A Ginger Weekend

Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Indy guesthouse

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Busan, South korea - Knowing I was going to be in South Korea, I emailed an old buddy from University, Andrew. He's been teaching English in Korea for three years now and we last met over drinks in the East Village in New York City in 2007. What better way to catch up, on foreign soil again! He responded while I was in Eastern Europe and we agreed on a weekend in Busan, it would be pretty much the same vibe as in NYC though maybe it would include some nudity this time! Just read on!

I caught another slow train from Daegu and arrived in Busan during a heavy rain shower. Andrew and I agreed to meet by a fountain in the square infront of the station but luckily, I spotted him on some stairs. We trudged off to the subway and he found our hostel pretty quickly, although, we were both drenched! We were staying near thre beach in Busan, opposite the crazy bypass that goes through the sea! A quick change and we found a bar and drank 3 or 4 pitchers of beer while chewing the fat over the last 4 years or so. Those who know me know I love telling stories and I'm lucky that Andrew is on my wavelength and enjoys every story that I tell. It doesn't take long before the cheeky and sometimes harsh 'Ant' from university days appears. We talk about some of the stuff Tom, Stu, Line and I got up to at uni! Fun days and fun to remember the times and people I spent it with. Bars in Korea do not close until the last person leaves, so I think that was us around 3am, we were both certainly ready for a long sleep. It was great to see Andrew again and just slip back into the uni mode! The lad even treated me to all the drinks and food as well on the first night, top guy! I assume I did the same in NYC, no, I'm certain I did!

Stupidly, we slept through the free breakfast (toast, eggs and coffee) but eventually dragged our asses out! Andrew took me to a Korean style diner and we feasted on chamchi kimbab (tuna kimbap), kimchi jjigae (kimchi soup) and bibimbap (mixed rice and vegetables). Utterly delicious!

So what would we do with our Saturday while beer was still flowing through our veins? Well, we hit the fish market and the harbour. A great sight, some fish are trying to escape and jump out of the containers. There were plenty of eight legged fish as well, little ones and big ones! We almost witnessed a fight at the harbour, a great place to chill and relax. Andrew showed me around downtown before we moved onto Jjimjilbang. I guess you could google it, but it's a Korean bath house/spa. He did warn me about going but then mentioned it was also very relaxing as well.

After some research, we found the biggest one in Busan (Jjimjilbang) and here is where the fun begins. Basically, you are separated into males only baths, you walk stark bollock naked and enjoy as many different water sensation as you can, while relaxing, and letting all the toxins leave your body. The word 'changing' room should have been altered to 'get your kit off' room. Oh what the hell, it wasn't as fun as Boise but something to experience. I forgot to mention that Andrew is also ginger, so the poor Korean guys were searching for their sunglasses with two very white guys walking around! I suppose, one could descibe the baths as a little sausage factory, except for the two large pork sausages that walked in! There are many pools, some below freezing, some at 45 degrees C, far too hot for me. There were showers that massaged your back, steam rooms, sauna places, normal temperature pools, a pool where you could have a drink, eat some food and one guy was even reading a paper!! Andrew and I both has a sweet rice drink call sikhye, which apparently replenishes you.

We got plenty of stares and I guess it is understandable, but I do enjoy being unique, most of my travels involves feeling unique but then it also feels like when I lived in the 'hood' in NYC. We stayed in the pool area for a couple of hours then headed upstairs to a relaxation area. On the way you dry off, hire some PJs and then enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of kids running around screaming!! We stayed in a cool room, around 11 degrees C before we both took a nap in a warmer room. Andrew ordered and ate some food but I went without, I felt incredibly relaxed but also pretty weak and very light headed. This feeling continued till we eventually sat down to dinner. It was a great feeling, just an unusual one, maybe I was too relaxed!! For dinner we ate Korean BBQ, samgyeopsal (pork BBQ), and doenjang jjigae (soybean paste soup). We also had a small bottle of Soju, a disgusting spirit that everyone recommends in Korea.

We continued the evening in a beach side bar, enjoying the night view of Busan beach and downing three large beers. We wondered why our conversation hit a mumbling low, but we totally forgot about the three shots we did during dinner! We talked crap all night and I got very confused when a Western guy entered the bar with two pretty ladies. He sat opposite them but spent most of the night looking away from them to the road outside. It just didn't make any sense! Or maybe I wans't making any sense. We didn't plan on another beer filled night, but what the hell! This led to another late night and drunken sleep!

Next day, I grabbed the free breakfast at the last minute and we set off for a long walk to Haeundae beach in the north east of Busan. This day was hot and delightful. We talked more seriously as we made our way north east. It's great when you can talk the crap with someone but also take it to a more sensible level. Andrew has discovered his own Korea, he has found a place that does a Sunday roast, a good chippy and even a place that sells marmite!! MMM! I'm definitely looking forward to a roast when I return to the UK.

The beach of Haeundae was cool and Andrew knew a tasty Panini place. Before we knew it, the day was over. We headed to the train station and I said farewell. I'm sure we'll be meeting up again sometime soon, just unsure which country it'll be next time. It was a great weekend, great to be around company I know and great to talk crap for a couple of days.

I booked a ferry to Fukuoka, Japan as my couchsurf host in Busan pulled out, nevermind. I boarded the late evening ferry, found my empty second class room and then noticed the fold up mattresses. So ten guys slept on little mattresses on the floor. A great sleep was in store. Before I boarded the ferry, I enjoyed one last Korean curry with some left over coins. Just love that curry!

Next stop, Fukuoka, Japan.
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Kimberly on

It's always nice to catch up with old friends. Can't wait to hear about Japan!

charlotte on

LAUGHED out loud when I got to the bit about sausages, pork and general gingerness. wicked post.

Steve on

Just about to visit my son, who has been teaching in Korea for 2 years, Busan for 1. Loved reading about your experiences and wanted to thank you for the post.

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