Busan Blues…

31 10 2010

So, after roughly 48 hours of complete mayhem I find myself in Busan, South Korea. My company always like to give plenty of notice for travel, however in this case they excelled themselves. A little less than 24 hours notice to get packed, and spend the next 6 days in Korea. I think even James Bond gets more notice than this….

“James, this is Q. Listen we have a situation developing in Vladivostok involving a dissident Russian Colonel. We need you to be there within six days. Understood Q…I’ll just finish this Vodka Martini…”

The reality is…”Dan, get flights to Korea for tomorrow”.

Anyways, onto the plus side…

I’ve never visited Korea. Always fancied trying it out though. Like Russia I’ve always been intrigued by the political play in this divided country. It’s as if the world has a hand in Korea.

I flew into Incheon, which is an impressive modern airport. In order to connect to my next flight to Yeosu, I needed to get to Gimpo airport which is a distance away. Note, don’t bother with the bus connection. They are nothing but a stress. Go to the Airport Rail Express (or something like that). The ticket machines are in English, and a snip at W4000. Clean, and relaxing transportation straight through to Gimpo Airport. It took around 45 minutes between the two airports.

So to cut a long story short, I got to Yeosu (after much stress) and attended the chemical tanker. Cue the 3.5 hour drive to Busan at 1am…

Busan is a major port city located in South East Korea. In my opinion it isn’t really exposed to tourism or Westerners/English speakers. I’ve travelled to areas of China & Japan, and it’s been easier to travel around.

Anyways, I find myself in the only available hotel at 3am in the morning. Behold the “Prime Tourist Hotel” in Downtown Busan. Also known as the New Taeyang Hotel, or the New Sun Hotel. Why is it name changes make me nervous ! Oh yes, because it’s to hide things. The hotel looked impressive from outside, a damn sight less tacky than the various love motels around the area.

The impressive feel didn’t last…

After roughly 36 hours travel and work, I felt like a shower. Of course, I hadn’t checked the Korean box on the check in card that stated “HOT WATER”. A cold shower is refreshing at 4am I can assure you. Aside from the cold shower, the hotel was noisy and dirty. Hairs all over the bed, dirty grubby floors. For $65 a night (ROOM ONLY), I suppose it’s ok. However, a hotel that doesn’t serve food even in the day…come on ! Trip Advisor Rating…avoid !

I got away from the dreary surroundings of the hotel to downtown Busan. I went there on Saturday, and it is an absolute assault on the senses. Colours and smells abound everywhere. Garish signs adorn shop fronts, their wares touted by young girls in very short skirts ! A real experience was the Fish Market (Jagalchi Market). This was the real Busan. Away from the showy, fashionable excess…here the real inhabitants lay. It was wonderful, and took me back to one of my first business trips to the Wadi in Dubai. It’s a sensory overload, and well worth a visit.

I moved hotels, and ended up in the Hotel Centum. This is an uber plush hotel within the BEXCO district of Busan. Within walking distance was the BEXCO Exhibition Centre and Busan Museum of Modern Art.

There was a Comic Book exhibition at BEXCO. The centre was repleat with teenagers everywhere in cosplay dress. I’ve always been into anime, and it was a real treat to see the characters brought to life. The effort that was placed into their attire was amazing. They were proud of how they looked, and it kind of slammed home the differences between Asia and the UK. At home kids would be ridiculed for dressing like this. Here, they were celebrated for being different.

Busan was holding it’s Biennial Exhibition at the Museum. Entrance was W7000, which was I thought was pricey at first…until I viewed the exhibits. This was excellent timing as Liverpool had recently held it’s own Biennial Exhibition. It was a superb exhibition, providing an excellent array of static and video installations. My other half would have loved it, as she is far more arty than me. It did provide some inspirational thinking to me though.

So…two more days to go here before I go back west to the UK. Not sure what to do yet. I may attack “International Market” see what goodies I can bag.

BTW –  This is my first attempt at a blog. Criticism will be accepted as long as it’s positive.



One response

1 11 2010
Carl Bargh

Interesting read, Dan. Looking forward to the next installment..!

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