Friday, September 26, 2014

Whirlwind Busan

Arriving in Busan, South Korea on Fri 5th September after our 2 night stay in Shanghai, Mark and I were thrilled to be met by Kate at Gimhai Airport.. contrary to her typed instructions she had taken the day off and caught the train to the airport to meet and greet. Awesome surprise!

From that moment on we were on a whirlwind tour of Busan including the mission to get to her apartment to get our bags dropped, a walk to Haeundae (pronounced hai(r)-un-deh) Beach for a swim in the East China Sea, then by train and bus to a temple alongside the sea in another part of the huge city (South Korea's second largest after the capital Seoul); then back to the Gwangali area where we met up with Kate's mates at a Jamaican restaurant for cocktails, beers and good food. Lovely to meet this rad bunch of lively and likeable colleagues from all over the world, including a few South Africans - all working teaching English to Korean kids as well as tutoring some adults for extra pay.

Here's the Google Map link to my office in Durban and Kate's place in Busan.. click on Kate on the left of the map and the map will zoom to her location in Korea.

Kate meets Mark and I at Gimhai Airport

Fortunately Kate knew what she was doing with the train system - most places we went to were about 9 stops away and a 45 min high speed train ride

2 train rides and a quick walk and we were at Kate's apartment

Comfortable large studio apartment within walking distance of the beach. The Koreans sleep on the floor on a roll-out thick duvet thing, but this apartment was specially kitted out for westerners with a bed

Yellow ribbons with wishes tied on a rope in the street

Haeundae Beach, beautiful and clean, but tiny waves

Our first day in Korea.. the water was warm and lovely

Tall apartment buildings are visible in most parts of the city - looks a bit like the Pearls in Umhlanga

Stunning pic of my daughter Kate-Lynn

Trying out a yummy fritter filled with sesame seeds, chocolate and syrup

The Mc Naught clan at the seaside temple

Beautiful wood carvings of dragons adorn the temple - all decoration is done in the same colours

The rocky beach scene from above the temple

Street scene and vendors

Trying out one of Kate's favourite dishes - Kimbap .. tuna, spinach and veg rolled in rice and seaweed covering, very tasty

Full moon as we head down the stairs to the Metro. The Koreans made some policy decision to keep all Metro stations free of escalators.. keeps the population (and us) fit, climbing up 2 or 3 flights of stairs after every train ride

We're en route to our Jamaican restaurant rendezvous with Kate's mates for our welcome party

Mark checks out the menu on the waiter's iPad

The first mates arrive

Jamaican margarita for me

Cheers guys, great to see that Kate has so many awesome friends in Busan who travelled quite far by train to come from their respective zones for the central welcome party

Lots of new tastes and different things to eat

Dan (left) from Alaska and Lane (right) from Florida

Taryn and Chido (left), Chelsea (3rd from left) and Leonie (second from the right) are also from South Africa

Lane and Kate

Jarod is being assimilated into the culture with his new shirt

MC saying cheers with another South Africa, Ryan (right) from PE or Klerksdorp ha ha

A Korean guy Ryan bumped into who was enjoying the company but we could hardly follow a word he was saying in English
One thing we learned quickly is that when you go out you pack a bag for like 24 hours... because is like going to Gateway Shopping Centre on a huge scale.. you need to be at this end for something, then the other end and you are all meeting up at the beach in the evening.. and each destination is 45 mins on the Metro train in the opposite direction to the one you have just been in. So it would take you an hour and a half to return home to change for supper... so Kate has become a master of guise with all sorts of clever accessories packed into her backpack.. snacks, a change of shoes, socks, scarf, hat etc so she would arrive looking fresh in a new outfit at each destination ha ha

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