As previously mentioned, I finally will be able to “talk” about Busan! It’s been a really really weird week. Usually to me the school week goes by pretty fast until Friday hits. However this week was a combination of boredom and stress. Why you may ask-All of my classes were cancelled on Wednesday leaving me with nothing to do. From 9-440.
BUT at the same time I was informed that I would have to plan three lesson plans for the same lesson because 1. we are having a parents visit next week which means special condensed lesson plan 2. an added on longer version of said condesned lesson plan with co teacher 1 3. and a completely reworked lesson plan with co teacher 2.
So yes while I was half bored to tears half the time, I was also immesley stressed trying to figure out how to create three different lesson plans for the same lesson.
Now that that mess is taken care of (wrap it up and send it away to the most outer regions of space) we shall dive right into happier Busan times.
TRAIN INFO (Pyeongtaek to Busan)
I think I mentioned in the previous post that I left for Busan on a Friday evening and wound up arrive at around 9pm. It was a surprisingly comfortable trip despite the fact I was next to a stranger the better part of 4 hours.
In case anyone cares about the actual travel portion-I took the Saemauel ITX train to Busan from Pyeongtaek AK Plaza for 66,000 round trip. The train itself was clean and relatively comfy. You are assigned a seat unlike American-Amtrak-where the seats are a free for all, so yes you do need to reserve a seat online or at the ticket counter a head of time. I have been informed that those tickets tend to sell out fast so it’s recommended you go a head and buy them as soon as you can.
Also I am not super chunky but I’m also not the Korean standard of 100lbs for women so the seats were not as wide as those cushy Amtrak seats. I wasn’t uncomfortable and I had no issue but I can forsee this as an issue if you are in fact on the larger size-also the middle arm rest is not moveable so you are stuck in the space you are given with no real wiggle room.
Now the train was on time and the seats were pretty comfy. The recline was really nice, and I def. was able to sleep both ways. I believe they have a snack car but I brought my own water and food to make it and not have to wander around the train too much.
I do wish I could have gotten a window seat because the scenary was very interesting but I had to look over my seat mate (awkward ) or across the aisle (even way way more awkward) to see outside. We passed by a of mountains, really cute towns, some lakes (I think) but when we finally got close to Busan there was so much neon I thought I had arrived in Macau instead.
My train station AK plaza is big with a ton of shops and a movie theater. However compared to the Busan train station it is miniscule. Busan looks like an airport. It has so much in it and the sheer size of it is overwhelming.
I met my friend Whitney and then we went back to her place. We rode the subway (t money card!) and it took like a half an hour or so. She lives right down the street from her subway stop. I’m supremely jealous. That was one thing I had requested in my application-there is unending happiness when you can literally take the subway anywhere.
Korean Apartments And Whitney’s Shrine to KPOP
Her apartment is much more modern than mine with the really cool keycode lock. I have two sets of keys. Much less cool. Inside though it is much smaller. It’s the size of a very small studio with a bathroom (more on that later) and a narrow kitchen. But man has she decorated it-it’s like a shrine to Kpop. I have never seen a collection so extensive before. Posters everywhere, 5 different lightsticks, a ton of music, random things, pillows, the list is endless. I knew Whitney was crazy about Kpop but damn! I was half wigged out by the sheer amount and half really jealous.
Because I had spent the day at school and then traveled for 4 hours on a train I was supremely gross. So I went to take a shower-NEWSFLASH! Showers and bathrooms in Korea are NOT like home.
I am lucky enough to have a decent size bathroom-a western toliet, a sink, and a tub with a shower head-I did have to add the shower pole and curtain myself which is not a big deal.
I was quick to realize though HOW lucky I actually am. In Korea the toliet, sink, and shower head are all in one square room. That’s right no seperate space for the shower. If you google “Korean bathroom” you will understand what I am failing at explaining to you. People buy flip flops for the bathroom because after you shower everything is pretty much soaked so you’re feet will get wet if you want to go to the bathrrom.
It was an experience unlike any other for me. It was uncomfrotable and awkward. I guess if you’re the only person in the apartment than it’s not a big deal but it would be something I would have to become accutomed to like Whitney.
I was so exhausted I quickly passed out on Whitneys “GOT7 Jackson” pillow which was surprisingly comfortable.
Busan Shopping: Record Stores that will make you miss the days before iTunes
The next morning we slept in, took our time getting ready and then headed out for a fun day shopping in Busan before the BTOB concert.
It was windy that day which caused us to wear extra layers of clothes but it wasn’t completely unpleasent. We took the subway to some underground shopping mall (I will update with the name when I find out) but we were so hungry (I had not had a proper meal since lunch the day before at school) we went to lunch first. I hadn’t had western food in such a long time that we wound up going for Italian at a restaraunt nearby (once again when I find the names of these places I will update). We got the creamy seafood pasta and french fries which were amazing. I don’t know if it was the combo of being so hungry and not having western food in over a month, or the fact it was actually really good but we eat the entire plate-think like a giant skillet. It was so good. It has piece of squid, scallops (I think?), pasta, mussels was just amazing.
Afterwards we went to the record store she frequents. When I think of record store I think of second hand vinyl record dusty store that smells faintly of must. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! Record Store in Korea is like a mecca for music lovers. Not only do they have the biggest selection of Kpop music (seriously its amazing) but they have an extensive selection of western music-from both america and Europe-some of the CD’s they had were ones that I had wanted when I went through my British Pop Group phase (Girls Aloud /Westlife). It was really something else to behold.
Also not only did they have CDs, DVDs, but CASSETTE TAPES. That’s right. Those things after 8tracks and before CD’s. I was so in shock that I must have gushed over them for a solid mintue.
I didn’t want to bore Whitney (who said she could never be bored in Syannara Records) so I tried to limit myself. There was just so much to see and look through. I wound up looking through the Kpop section. Here’s a little bit of information about Kpop Albums. They aren’t just in little plastic CD cases with the album cover and a list of the songs on the back. These things are huge with a generous size photo book, photocards and some come with posters.
In America most people have switched over to buying music on iTunes. I admit most of the time I will buy my music online because it’s easier. There are rare times when I will get the physical copy-and usually I have to order amazon because American stores just no longer carry the wide seletcion of music.
The art of going to the store, wandering and picking up your copy has not been lost in Korea and it’s really enjoyable. The thrill of buying the album!
I picked up Vixx’s latest album and then we headed out to go to a cafe.
Sidenote: there was a group of school girls handing around the EXO section-Whitney guessed they were having an “EXO” buying party. I still stand by the fact that EXO fans just so off putting I don’t even bother with the band.
BTS Cafe and Underground Mall
We headed over to “Alice Table” for drinks. As I mentioned Whitney is a HUGE BTS fan. She explained to me that most of her paycheck goes towards BTS merch (as I’ve said before that means merchandise to those of us who are less wordly about buying ….stuff).
The cafe is cute. With the menu cover being a picture of the “Alice in Wonderland” story and the cafe taking it’s name from said story, one would think the inside would be somehow related the child’s tale.
Apparently though it has changed a lot since BTS has become a better known band. There are so many pictures of the band with their songs on a loop played in the background. It’s very cute to see how proud the dad is of his son (I think it’s Park Ji Min but I’m not sure…as you can see I don’t really know them at all). The owner is so nice and very friendly. He recognized my friend right away. He goes around from table to table to check on his patrons.
After having a really good Vanilla Latte (my first drink with “latte art”) we went shopping. We went back underground and I dropped about 160$ on makeup and face products. We didn’t do too much because we had to get to the concert but it was probably for the best. I can be cheap (frugal) but most of the time…I’m not. I just can’t help it.
We went back to her place, dropped off my bags and then headed to the concert.
BTOB Concert no longer was playing on my computer screen!
Now I had brought my umbrella with me, checking the weather for Busan prior. And that Saturday, while it was mostly sunny, it was obvious it was going to pour. But silly me, I left my umbrella at Whitney’s place thinking “I’ll be okay.”
We arrive at the venue and the first thing I see upon exiting the subway station was dark clouds. I said to Whitney “It’s going to pour.” Oh if I only knew.
The venue was the KBS hall and it was a short walk. Whitney got her new “slogan towel” (I’m still trying to figure out what that means) and I bought a bag with the name of the concert on it. We ran into a friend of her who was also there with her friend. Thank god we did because Whitney had gotten standing and I had not so we were going to be seperated from each other. I wound up having seats exactly next to her friend. It was bizarre-of all the places.
Whitney wound up going in first but we texted the entire time. She wound up being pretty close to the front of the stage and I was on the second floor. Due to “fortunate circumstances” Whitney’s friends and I wound up being much closer to the stage on the first floor.
The concert was so good! It was crazy! Right before I left America for Korea I had really gotten into BTOB. So seeing them live was so surreal and amazing. They weren’t on my 13inch laptop screen anymore.
At one point they went into the audience and we got to touch their hands and it was…no words. They put on a really good show and perform so well live.
When I met Whitney afterwards I asked her if she started crying during the ballad (she had admitted to tearing up during Vixx) . She said she was crying way before that. Sometimes I get the crying thing but most of the time I don’t-however if that’s how she felt in that moment than more power to her.
She also had managed to get us a bunch of the “Hello Melody Busan” posters. After saying our goodbyes we headed back to her apartment and then I crashed on the “BTOB” Beep Beep pillow-this was of course after both Whitney and I had come down from our concert highs.
The next morning I did have to leave for the train station to head back home because me train left at 11. I was in and out of sleep for the ride home.
And after a little look around the shopping mall part of the train station I wound up at my apartment with a little daylight to spare. I was so tired that I didn’t do my laundry. That’s right I now had two weeks of laundry to do. It cost me 14$ and an hour and a half to do the following day but it was worth it.
I really loved Busan. It was awesome to be able to see mountains peaking from behind the buildings. The energy was great and the subway took you just about anywhere. I admit my jealousy over Whitney’s more desirable location.
Because I have been struggling with the decision to stay another year in Korea or move back home, I wanted to used Seoul and Busan as testing grounds. Busan was amazing and I hope when I got back I can see more of the city and sights.
However, Seoul was just so amazing and there was always so much to see and do. I feel like living in a city like that would give me the better experience I feel that I am slightly lacking in my current location. I plan on heading up to Seoul tomorrow to check out Myeongdong shopping and Yeouido Cherry Blossom festival. Despite having spent the last two weekends travelling like a bird mirgating back and forth, I think that instead of sitting my apartment watching TV and eating alone, exploring Seoul and being a little tired is the clear winner.
Random little dribbles that don’t fit anywhere but I find extremely entertaining and hope you do too.
I had tried to get tickets for Big Bang’s comeback-yeah right. As soon as 8pm hit on Monday I clicked on the button and nothing happened. It was insane and stupid and just made no sense. I think if it was a year and a half ago I would have been crying like some of Whitney’s co workers. However because that has cooled off, I wasn’t as upset-I also knew going into the ticket sale that it was going to be like this so it pretty much matched my expectations.
I looked a little around on the sight and saw that my Maroon 5 would be in Korea in September. My colleague recently has started talking to me about Maroon 5 and her love for them. I had considered going but I’ve seen Maroon 5 already and who knows what possible other concerts will be around that time.
I told my colleague about it and she was so excited-it had turned out that the tickets went on sale that night-she got standing and now she is so thankful and happy she will be seeing them in September.
Wow this post turned out to be so much longer than I expected but Busan was so packed and I really didn’t want to split it like Seoul.
Until next week.
Next time of The Real Black and White Dog Archives of Korea: My solo trip to Seoul, the discovery of gmarket incahoots with my dissappearnce of money, banking puzzles, and parent’s visit day.