Being spolied again

Trip Start Aug 14, 2007
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Trip End May 23, 2008


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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Busan, South Korea
GMT +8:00 hours

Just as we thought
I'm going to assume you don't have an eidetic memory (my apologies, not to mention admiration, if you do) and so will start this entry by reminding you that I finished the last one telling you that it was Saturday morning, we were on a one week break from camp and we were just about to leave Seoul for Busan, from where we were to catch, on Sunday evening, an overnight ferry to Fukuoka in Japan to get our work visa for the coming months. I also mentioned that Nick, one of my students in camp, would be meeting us in Busan and that Nick, we assumed, would be doing his best to extend to us the Korean hospitality we've become accustomed to over the past few weeks. Well, that's pretty much what happened for the day and a bit we found ourselves in Busan. We were indeed shown more hospitality in the form of food, a night's accommodation and a days sightseeing. We even had the obligatory late night dash around the supermarket to stock up on the staple western breakfast goods of bread (for toast), bananas, cereal and yoghurt. Yep, it was just like last weekend in Gyenonju, Gyeongsan and Deagu, except on a smaller scale. And when it was all said and done we found ourselves on the overnight ferry to Fukuoka, Japan enjoying the comforts of the cabin we were upgraded to thanks to Nick's 'connections', an upgrade we took full advantage of by sleeping for the majority of the 12 hours we spent on the ferry (only 7 of which was spent sailing).

A tale of two halves
Our time in Busan nicely sandwiched our 4-day, 3-night trip to Japan (see the next entry for more on that). I won't go into too much detail about our time in Busan because I have, after all, been there a few times before and have already documented two of my previous trips (in January 2003 and July 2004). Plus, there really wasn't much too report this time around, especially the 3 days/nights (days 101 to 103) we spent here after coming back from Japan. They were 3 totally self sufficient nights we passed holed up in a Korean motel, without any Koreans fussing over us, just waiting for the week to end so we could report back to Yangji for the final week, week 8, of our KE camp. What there is to report from our 4 night (total) stay in Busan can be adequately covered in the accompanying pictures (there I go again, shamelessly diverting you to the pictures... sorry).

Day 96, 97, 101, 102 & 103 Observations (November 17th, 18th, 22nd, 23rd & 24th 2007)
Btw, just in case you think I have difficulty counting with three digits, I don't. Days 98, 99 & 100 were spent in Japan (see the next entry).

Blue is as good as it gets
After being met off the bus from Seoul (yep, Nick surprised us and was the first thing or person we saw as we stepped off the bus from Seoul) we were brought to some sort of Seaman's Club (Busan, remember, is a big port/sailor town) for our choice of dinner from a western menu.

"Horray!", we inwardly thought.

Having seen nothing but raw fish, and various parts of fish, on plates for the past few weeks I couldn't help but order the tuna steak, sensing a perfect opportunity, I though, to boost my omega-3 fatty acid intake, all the while politely ignoring Nick's advice to order the most expensive thing on the menu (t-bone steak). I've come to realise now that, even in a western restaurant, Koreans really don't like applying heat of any kind to fish. The steak was cooked, but cooked Korean style, meaning it only just touched the pan and was quickly flipped, before an even quicker transfer to my plate. 'Blue rare' is how Wikipedia class a steak, be it beef or fish, that is....

'Cooked very quickly...the outside is seared, but the inside is usually cool and definitely not cooked.'

Yep, that was it.

Countess Who?
As if putting us up for the night, feeding us, showing us around Busan and swinging us an upgrade on the ferry wasn't enough, Nick presented me with a 'Countess Mara of New York' (I've never heard of them either) gift set of accessories that any discerning business professional would be proud to be seen utilising - an umbrella, pen, wallet and a belt, complete with a choice of buckles. The wallet and belt have that "ummmm, leather" smell and the whole thing came nicely presented in a fancy, expensive looking box. The only problem is at this stage of my life I'm far from being classed as anything close to a business professional so I might just put my new accessories into storage so they are in good condition when I do reach, if at all, my handing out business cards days.

Cold
Okay, even I noticed the cold in Busan so you can imagine how poor Meg felt. It's either officially winter down here or, most likely, we came from up north ill equipped for the colder southern coastal temperatures. Either way, it's cold and to Nick and his family we probably sounded like moaning westerners during our day sightseeing. I bet he wished he'd have bought me a Countess Mara coat instead.

Cabins 525 & 527
The ferry cabins we were upgraded to for the trip to (cabin 525) and from (cabin 527) Fukuoka in Japan were damn comfy. They had a window (yes, only one), a TV and a sink (but no bathroom) and were warm and quiet. The beds had those puffy, down-filled duvets, the ones you wrap yourself up in and feel all small. We liked our cabins so much that we both slept for the whole 12 hours we were on the ferry to Japan (7:30pm - 7:30am), with Meg sleeping most of the way back. We only left the comfort zone of cabins 525 (to Japan) and 527 (from Japan) long enough to get some noodles from the on-board vending machines and to check out the economy class digs, the ones we'd have been in had it not been for Nick swinging us the upgrade. To say we were thankful would be a huge understatement.

'Worry' Bank
I had a problem with my bank card shortly after arriving back from Japan. The timing was cruel, as we'd just received our first pay from camp and we were looking forward to being able to access our money for the first time without having to pay fees to our bank in Canada to do so. All attempts to access our new Korean money failed so we returned to the bank the next day where, not surprisingly, we were fussed over by the sash-wearing bank manager, who got the nice girl behind the counter to resolve our issue there and then by issuing another card, one, I might add, with a much nicer design. The manager then verified all was okay with the new card by helping us make a withdrawal, although his help with this task, while still appreciated, wasn't needed. We left the bank wondering if he, as his Miss World type sash claimed, really was the bank manager; he positively looked about 15 years old and his only duties, apart from helping us, seemed to be to stand there smiling while he opened and closed the door for the branches customers. Btw, the name of our bank over here is Woori Bank, roughly pronounced 'worry' bank. You can probably then understand our concern when the card, that had worked a few days earlier, decided to stop working mere hours after our first pay had been deposited. The prognosis? A faulty magnetic strip. It's not likely to happen again; the shiny new card is now safely tucked away in my new Countess Mara wallet.

The Husband
I stared reading the novel 'The Husband' today (November 25th). Kind of ironic, really. It better be good, because I've carried the damn thing all the way here from Canada.
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