Weekend (from hell)

8 Aug

Our first weekend in Korea was going to be three days long as the Monday was Buddha’s birthday. So after asking other foreign teachers, the one place most mentioned as the place to go was Busan in the South of Korea, (South, South Korea). After being told about beautiful beaches and a relaxing atmosphere we were sold. We decided to get a bus down on the Saturday, admittedly we slept in longer than we’d have liked, so arrived at the bus terminal around half 2. We were told that the next available bus wouldn’t be until 7. In hindsight, we should have decided there and then not to go as the bus takes 3 and a half hours, but we thought if we stay until Monday it would be worth it. So we bought our tickets and waited, and waited, and then waited for the bus to arrive. When it came it was the most comfortable bus I have EVER been on, the seats are what I’d imagine they would have in the first class area on BA flight. In fact, the bus was the undeniable the highlight of the weekend.

We arrived in Busan at around 10:30pm, the next task was to work out the subway to get to the beach area. The subway it turned out had a lot of signs in English and was suprisingly easy to get around on. So it’s now 11:30 and we’re there. Armed with a phrase book and a guide with hotel names in we look for a taxi to take us to a hotel. After a good while waiting we got one, got in and pointed to the name of a hotel in the guide. The Taxi Driver says ‘no’, so we point to another, ‘no’ again. We look up hotel in the phrasebook, again we get a straight forward ‘no’. Does he just not like us? Confused we got out and went to the beach area on foot as we were told this is where most hotels are.

On our way to the beach we notice a lot of drunken rowdy people stumbling about, this doesn’t seem that relaxing after all. In fact, if I had to compare it to anywhere, it would be the Korean Magaluf. We reach the beach after dodging taxis and drunks to discover ALL hotels are fully booked. After about an hour of walking around being rejected we bumped into some other foreigners who have given up finding a hotel and plan to stay up until 5am when a spa opens and sleep there. (Recent Edit: we had no idea at this point about the overnight option of Jimjilbangs, oh if we’d known). So after being confirmed we won’t be able to find a hotel we decided to find somewhere to eat. After spotting a restaurant that looked nice we decided to sit down (on the floor). Now most restaurants in Korea are very friendly, this wasn’t most. We attempted to order through the method of pointing, which the waitress somehow took to mean we want 3 courses despite there only being 2 of us. Tired, and unable to find words in the phrasebook to argue, we accepted this as were starving. The food was okay but very filling, and cost 67,000 won, which we had come to learn works out as quite expensive by Korean standards. We paid, left looking for a late bar to spend the night and got the first bus home.

We then decided to get a taxi to anywhere with a hotel. Again, armed with the phrase book, we found a taxi, who unfortunately can’t understand anything English or Korean we say. Thankfully, a passerby stops and takes pity on us and offers to translate, we didn’t catch his name but this good Samaritan may have just saved our weekend.

However, after a 15 minutes in the taxi to the next area we still had no luck in finding a hotel with a vacancy. EVERY hotel in Busan appeared to be booked, we would have at this point willingly stayed in a stable if any hotel had one going spare. Our only hope was to find a bar for the night and promptly leave in the morning. We found a bar, had a few beers, played the longest game of name-a-celebrity-beginning-with-the latter-letter-of-a-previously-said-celebrity, (does this game have a name? If not I’m now calling it The Celeb’ Name Game), and tried to look on the bright side, (we’re in South Korea – not North Korea!) After 2 hours of The Celeb’ Name Game the sun was coming up, so we grabbed a hot chocolate, got the subway, hopped on the bus all by 7:30 am. The rest of the weekend was spent sleeping and trying to forget about our trip to Busan.

Jonathan and Tamsyn



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