After all the excitement of last month’s Rotary International Convention and the busy and hectic work week, I was more than grateful for Memorial Day weekend. This was technically the first day off we’d had since the school year began in March, and three months in, I was dying for some recuperation time. Rather than stay in my room for the long weekend, I decided to venture out to Busan. Busan, which was my first choice for living and working in Korea, is a cool ‘little’ beach city in the Southern part of Seoul. In my opinion, no other Korean region comes close, except for maybe Jeju Island. (I haven’t been to Jeju yet though, just speculating). When I booked my train ticket to Busan, I was told there were only standing seats left. To my dismay, I booked the ticket. I wondered how in the world I would stand for two hours. Fortunately, due to a subway technicality (it was kind of my fault for not leaving home early enough, but I’m blaming it on the subway) I missed my train to Busan by about three minutes. After pleading with the stern train lady, another woman overheard my issue and reissued my ticket for another train that would arrive 20 minutes later. And, it was a ticket with a seat! I was overjoyed to hear this and profusely thanked the ticket vendor.
After settling in my seek, I sat back and enjoyed the view. It was my first time traveling in the countryside in Seoul, and I was enjoying every minute of it. Being in the Korean countryside is like being on a different planet. Fields of lush green crops, towering mountains, and farmhouses lined the train’s path. At one point a huge, statue which appeared to be a type of Hindu figure of worship towered over a small city came into view. At the sight of it a dark feeling rushed over me, but I shook it off and continued to enjoy the ride.
Upon arrival at Busan Station, there was a bit of confusion about where I was to go next, but a very kind convenience store own who spoke broken English helped me find my way, and before long I was on the inner city bus on my way to the condo where I would spend the weekend. After riding for about an hour and a half, I arrived and again, after a bit of confusion and tremendous help from a local woman, I found my host, or rather he found me, on the sidewalk on a main road. John was a very nice Canadian who helped Hyunji, a local, with attending to guests to their condo. We had some great conversations about Korea culture and politics. I helped myself to his amazing Italian expresso coffee, and he made me blueberry smoothies each morning I was there.
While it was too cold to go swimming, on Saturday morning I ventured out to the local market. It was a busy place with lots of people and lots of stuff to buy. I didn’t really find the souvenirs I wanted, so just settled on having some traditional red bean ‘ice’ cream. This tasty dish is literally filled with ice, tropical chopped fruit, and red beans. It was delicious, but very, very cold, and I had to eat slowly!
After my outing I was too tired to explore much in the way of local restaurants, so I settled on getting a salad to go from the Hard Rock Cafe. I think the burger from the previous night was better, but I was offered a free dessert for the long wait the night before. It was quite delicious and tasted amazing with some black coffee.
The next morning it was time to head back to Seoul. John gave me a ride the the bus stop where I would take the two hour ride back to Busan Station. I thanked him for the ride and waited for the bus. While the ticket back to Seoul did not include a seat, this time, I got on the train early enough to get a seat by the door. I was so thankful to God for that foldout seat because I did not want to have to stand for on the train for two long hours. The ride back wasn’t quite as comfortable, but still relaxing, and I was thankful for the adventure I’d had in Busan. This has been a great precursor for next month’s adventure in Thailand!!!!!!!!