Well, it’s been six years since I was last in Korea and I’m in Busan for a short time to promote my new ESL summer camp in Montreal. I lived in Busan from 2005 to 2007 working as a teacher in an international school and while I saw a lot during that time, I did not do a lot of touristy things, since I was involved in the daily routine of full-time work.
Although I am also here for work this time, I appreciate that I only have 10 days and have decided to play tourist while I can. There have been many new additions to this city in the last few years, and I have also been happy to go to my old spots and just experience my more familiar quirky Korea again.
I took a long walk yesterday from my very equipped love motel all the way to BEXCO Exhibition and Convention Centre and then had to restrain myself from spending too much money in the world’s largest (it’s official!)
department store, Shinsegae. This store was just starting to go up the last time I was here. On the way there, I passed through the Olympic sculpture park, which I had never seen before, and found a little quiet oasis there and some really interesting art. I also easily spotted some of the wild new apartment complexes – the most notable named “We’ve the Zenith” (not a typo) and stands as the 8th tallest residential building in the world, 2nd tallest in Korea – at least for now. Before I knew about this complex, I had seen a photo and mistakenly assumed it was a fake! It really is something else, straight from the future, Blade Runner style (that dates me doesn’t it?) In any case, it’s something to behold – queasy tummy and all.
For the record, I’m here on my own and perfectly safe in my happy love motel. While love motels are most often frequented for the illicit encounter; they are also the best value for money in Korea. Some of them, like the one I’m in – the “On Motel” is actually so well equipped, I don’t understand how they could possibly make a profit. It has a 50-inch flat screen TV, a large bathtub, rain shower, electric toilet, computer and wifi, stocked fridge (no extra charge if you consume contents), tea and boiler, and a great many hair and bath products to my disposal – and it’s spotless. You won’t get all that at the Westin Chosun at $350 a night, I’m quite sure. So in effect, for about $70 dollars a night, I’m getting more than George Bush did during the Busan 2005 APEC meeting (except for the private island part). And true to quirky Korea, the stylized wallpaper has a good example of English as décor, and reads: “The shimmer, the sparkle, the shine. Without the light you put into my life, I would be nothing. A single leaf on the ground in autumn, Lost, forgotten, alone.” Makes me sad every time I read it – snif. Adding to interest, I have also officially counted 21 items in this room that are monogrammed with the motel name and logo on it, including the hair dryer, kettle, bottle opener, hair spray bottles, telephone and even the wallpaper. Maybe the owner has a family member in the monogramming business. One can only guess.
Yesterday I had the joy of going to my old favourite store, E-Mart. I know it’s not really considered anything too fancy here, but it has everything, including kitchen wear, toys, food, clothes, and an amazing array of humidifiers – badly needed in the colder months here – including this one which is also a fish aquarium and planter, now why didn’t I think of this? Wish I could take one home with me. I’d be so popular.
Today I’m off to Dalmaji hill, an interesting section of Haeundae with a great view. Since today is Sunday, there is a free art market there that I thought I would check out if my jet lag doesn’t get the best of me.
Cheers from Busan, Korea’s premier port city!