Thursday, August 18, 2011

Weekend in Busan

WARNING: Link to video of crabs possibly doing something NSFW below.

Since Rebecca and I like to pretend that we are dutiful little members of the clerisy, we spent the bulk of our one-week summer vacation locked in our cell working on our theses.  Neither hers - an examination of science fiction through the lens of 18th Century sentimentalism - nor mine - a discussion of rare instances of legally exempted felonies - are exactly driving us to write night and day.  I fact, I am so tired of my topic that I had to bribe myself with the promise of retail therapy in another city just to drag my fingers to the keys.  We agreed to spend the weekdays in Jeonju writing and editing, then give ourselves an out-of-town adventure on the weekend before returning to work.

Our original plan was to hit Itaewon, the famous shopping district of Seoul. Unfortunately, the day before our planed departure, Seoul was hit with over 17 inches of rain (440 mm) in two days, and looked like this:

With over 40 dead, and billions of ₩on in damages, we thought it best to head elsewhere. Our friend in Seoul, Eunhyoung, who had offered to act as our tour guide while we were there, agreed to reschedule with us.

Then began the search for a new destination. We decided that since it has been quite hot and humid, a trip to the beach was in order - but which beach? Living on a peninsula means there are plenty to choose from, and the entire country is just slightly larger than the state of Indiana, so everywhere is within a half-day bus ride.

Not knowing that it was the first weekend of a major beach holiday in Korea, we opted for the booked solid city of Busan. Busan's Haeundae beach is quite famous, and the area around it feels a bit like a combination of Las Vegas and Santa Monica. We worked on the web for a couple hours to find a hotel and then buy bus tickets for an early Saturday departure.

After a false start caused by dogsitting arrangements that fell through, we finally got on the bus around 12:50. We slept for most of the bus ride, then I fell asleep again during the 20,000 cab ride to the hotel. After a quick shower and change of clothes, we headed out into the city armed only with a subway map.

We did so much in the next 24 hours that I can't really keep it straight in my head. There was the underground markets, dinner, fancy fountain with dancing water in Lotte Departent Store, several subway rides, and a quick trip to the foreigner district where they sell clothes in the freakishly large (by Korean standards) sizes I require. This area used to be known as "Texas Street" back when there were tons of GIs in Busan (it is also where one will encounter Russian prostitutes vying with Thai, Filipino, and local girls for business). After that, we took off our shoes and walked on the beach, strolled through the live seafood market, got lost in a construction zone, and eventually found an amazing little restaurant facing the water with cheap desserts and expensive drinks that was still hopping around 1:00am. I figure we walked about 5 or 6 miles that night.

The next day we headed back to the beach in the daylight. Koreans do the whole beach thing quite a bit differently. As you will see in the photo dump below, they carry their irrational fear of the sun right down to the shoreline. I spent my teen years in a beach community, and I have never seen 1) so many umbrellas, and 2) so many fully clothed people on a beach in summer.

We went to the Busan Aquarium, which was quite nice, and blessedly air conditioned. Here is where I acidentally videoed large crabs fighting... or possibly engaged in the act of making more crabs... I'm just not much of an authority on crabs (See video here. I am including this link mostly because the audio gives a pretty accurate portrayal of our relationship and the kind of conversations we have on a daily basis).

For our final act in Busan, we opted for the ultimate in terrible tourist behavior - we ate at TGI Fridays. We actually like to eat at Western chain restaurants to see how they stack up to their counterparts back home. As usual, the Korean version was an amalgam of East and West that improved on the original. Yes, they had the usual TGI Friday's drink specials and fattening dishes, but they were all slightly tweaked to be more Asian in flavor, and served by adorable girls in tiny skirts, knee-socks, and cat, mouse, or bunny ears. Much more entertaining than your ordinary happy hour basket of wings.

I attempted to make some sense of these pictures, and arrange them artfully within the text of the post, but Blogger was bent on frustrating my layout. Instead, you are getting a raw dump, straight from the iPhone. Enjoy!

Monday, August 1, 2011

8.1.11 Hurray for Hats!

I couldn't resist bringing out this number for Victorian Kitty's one-day hat theme. I bought it from a vendor at my university, removed some of the foofaraw (yes, there was originally more fanciness), and added the purple ribbon and the needles. Because you never know when something or someone is going to need sewing.
I didn't wear the little hat today, but I did wear this. I bought the pocket watch and the pearls from a street vendor here in Jeonju, then removed the works and substituted this cicada I found while walking one night. Don't worry, it was already dead. I'm not that mean. The kids love this necklace. And by "love," I mean "are totally squicked by."

(Thanks to Linus for all the lovely photographs and nifty filtering. Every girl should be lucky enough to live with a photo nerd.)