After saying goodbye to my taxi buddies, I headed to the train station hoping that I could get a space on the train that night. I could, I had to wait 3 hours, but I could!
My phone was dying and a Korean friend was sending me desperate messages telling me that I was crazy and that there were no accommodation options in Busan because of the mass influx of people due to Golden Week. I wasn’t too concerned. If the worst came to the worst I would be able to get a bus or train back to Suncheon, and have a lovely few days at home. Determined as I was to find a place to sleep, and prove the world wrong, as soon as I got to Busan I walked into the fist motel I saw. I may have had to go down a terrifying alleyway, up an elevator that wasn’t quite in order, speak to a man who clearly slept in his office, and pay in cash only, but damn it! I found a room. A super sexy, red lit, out-of-order-rotating-circle bed, with pink polyester sheets, situated next to the train station kind of room. It was dodgier than Butch’s hideout in Pulp Fiction, but they gave me a free toothbrush, and assured me that the room was neither clean, nor would it be cleaned – I didn’t ask about this, they were just determinedly honest; I appreciated that.
I’d read that the world’s largest shopping mall was in Busan and I was in the mood for the cinema so I decided to check it out. The problem with the world’s largest shopping mall, is that it is rather large. I promptly got lost on my way up the escalators, and I’m fairly sure I took a goods lift in order to get to my final destination. Grabbing my obligatory “nachos” and “ice tea” I made it just in time for the opening credits of “The Great Budapest Hotel”… I think it might be Wes Anderson’s best. Getting home on the subway should have been a breeze, except this is me, this is me in a strange city, at midnight, during Golden Week. At 12am the subway arrived at a random station and stopped. It didn’t finish the route. It just… stopped. And so, I got out, and attempted to hail a taxi. Except this is Golden Week, in Busan… there were no vacant taxis. And so I walked. I walked for a really, really long time, in the rain.
I used to this all the time at home, walk for hours and hours, in any weather, I’d walk everywhere. I still do. It’s just that everywhere isn’t that far anymore. Since that walk, and the endorphin rush, and the peace of mind I gained, I’ve been sure to keep walking, as long as I can most nights of the week. Anyway… back to Busan.
The next morning, I decided to make my way to Hyundae Beach. However, on the bus I was accosted by a middle aged woman who desperately wanted me to speak English to her (rather unwilling) daughter. She decided that I was to tour with them that day and took me to the outskirts of Busan, namely Taejongdae Park, which apparently has a really interesting lighthouse on a rocky peninsula. We didn’t get quite that far, the poor woman got a bit too tired, and after seeing the ocean for the first time in her life, was a little overwhelmed and we went back to the bus stop chomping on octopus jerky. They wanted me to join them for dinner, however I needed some breathing space and I headed back into the city.
Wandering around I eventually made it to the famed Hyundae Beach where families were setting off fireworks in celebration.
There isn’t much more to say, except to point out that the train journey from Busan to Suncheon is one of the most beautiful journey’s imaginable. Rolling hills, small mountains, coast, rivers, rice paddies. It’s just stunning. And yet, I have no photos. I was far too busy skyping my aunt and enjoying her company. 🙂
I couldn’t help but feel incredibly humbled, and calm, and lucky at the end of this trip. Korea has so much too offer, and I tend to forget this all too often. I get wrapped up in the bubble of the GPP and my job – both of which I love, but I need to step away sometimes and appreciate this country while I’m still here. Tomorrow (actually today – derp), I’m heading to Jeju island for a few days of hiking and (maybe) some sun. See you on the flip side!