adventure, exploring, personal, travels

Busan, Summer 2017

I hopped onto the earliest train headed to Busan, having bought the ticket just a few hours before. I was restless, and I was determined to get away from Seoul and clear my head. I had forgotten how to appreciate the still that comes with the holiday, and being comfortable with just being after being preoccupied for so long. Did it work? The clear skies, cooler weather, and just the experience of being somewhere new filled me with a renewed sense of wonder and optimism. Here is my week in Busan, Summer 2017.

Upon arrival, I realized that I was possibly the only person there not travelling with a lover, as they flooded the front with their tripods and selfie sticks, hopping around and daintily lifting their legs as they captured their first kiss in Busan. Hardly disgruntled, I heaved my big duffel bag and made my way out to the other side of the big street ahead of me, for my ritualistic Chinese noodles in the China Town across from there. Yet again, there are places with substantial lines, but I continue to walk down to the tried and tasted place. IMG_7529 (2).JPG

This is the Samcheon Jjajangmyeon, which you may know to be black and thick. This particular sauce is made of spicy seafood of the same paste-like consistency. Delish.

I arrived finally at my grandmother’s place wedged up in the hills. I’ve been coming here and is the place most strongly imbued with memories of a childhood spent in Korea before I left for Zimbabwe. Of course being the person that I am, I had forgotten to remind my grandmother that she should be expecting me down sometime. Upon arrival, I found that she was at the temple, and she did not walk around with trivial things like phones. So instead, I trailed my sister to the vet and ended the night with a stroll down Jagalchi market (the most popular and overpriced destination for Korea’s seafood) after a hearty meal. I was amused when my friends visited once and were shocked at the number of side dishes that the average Korean meal has, consisting of every type of vegetable from lotus roots to your average leek.

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My uncle tells me that there are two ways you can distinguish whether a person is from Busan or not– by the place he eats his seafood, and whether or not he swims in the sea.

We ended the night watching a small water fountain show held hourly at the Lotte Department store nearby. It was a disappointment compared to the one I saw a few years ago at Dadaepo Beach, and we left before it trickled down once more.

The Second Day

After visiting my grandfather in hospital (a trying and depressing ordeal of its own), I decided to head out to the popular ‘hip and happening’ place for young in’s. First stop? The bookstore.

 IMG_7585.JPG IMG_7586.JPG   – I was not heading to this bookstore in particular, but they made a huge sign leading here from the subway so I decided to go give it a shot. It was nice to see an independent bookstore that was not Kyobo, and had books wrapped and in stacks in the corridors.

Later on that day, we headed to Songdo beach which had recently been refurbished with a particularly snazzy cable car and a mountain walk trail. My friend messaged me to complain about ruined shoes due to Seoul’s downpour, but it was just breezy.IMG_7651.JPG IMG_7669.JPG

We walked from one end, past the camping vans and the water sports center before walking to the other end, crossing the “Cloud Bridge” where you are suspended above water. It was clear that they put a lot of effort into making this place more interesting for its visitors, with cultural motifs found around, and it was good to see that it was popular with tourists as well. The weather was just pleasant enough to walk across the bridge and back, just in time for the next cable car across the vast water we just saw.

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We decided to pay 5000 won more to take the cabin with a see through bottom, but hardly needed to look down when we were surrounded with a 360 panorama of the beach and the mountain trail that edged it. IMG_7765.JPG

Upon arrival, there was a photo taking zone, and a line of restaurants selling boonshik-or quick foods like tteokboggi and icecream. There was a garden still under renovation lined with cute, motivational messages. On another floor there was a deck overlooking the sea and the mountains, with cute photozones like the above where you could leave a message in a bottle and store it up here (forever?) There was an oyster bar that had 0 customers, guessing it’s overpriced. At the underground layer they had an exhibition on the history of cable cars, if that’s your thing.

Third Day

After visiting my grandmother who is also hospitalized, I headed to the Busan Museum of Art that is located nearby in Haeundae. Their on-going exhibition, “Vision & Perspective 1999-2017” told the stories and challenges of people, as humans and artists through the ages. They told stories that questioned the role of human aid to developing countries, the role of humans in developing cities and rapid urbanization, of our futile beliefs in capitalism and consumerism, of failed politics and the removal of our autonomous state as machines to the system. Most of all, it spoke of human loneliness, and as I left the museum I felt comforted and at peace. I got the sense that I was not alone in this strangeness I was feeling. I will perhaps write a more detailed blog post about this display as it warrants some more explanation.

 

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Final Day

On the last day I decided to discover some hip areas around Busan, namely Nampodong, Gugje Shijang (International Market) and Seomyeon, which I gather is the most popular area for college students

.IMG_7876.JPG “josh ur out of the band”

Walking around Nampodong, there was a strange mix of everything- from small independent boutiques to shops selling everything at 5000won (approx.  4USD), a temple and Busan Tower (to those familiar with the couple hotspot Namsan Tower in Seoul), a toy figurine shop to a sex shop, and many hole in the wall cafes and eateries to indulge in. I entered the famous Gugje Shijang but did not spend much time there as it was rows and rows of particular categories, for example I entered a row of curtains and curtain rods and by this time, I was too dizzy and full from eating too many tteoks and lattes.

I hopped onto the subway and headed to Seomyeon Station, not so far away, where I met with my uni friend with whom I only seem to be able to meet in Busan. We headed to the Coffee Street nearby, and it was interesting to see that within two years the street had multiplied into many other nooks and crannies. We headed into a cafe that had a cute upstairs section decked in fairy lights, and we finally caught up over everything that had happened in the past semester.IMG_7904.JPGIMG_7907.JPG

It was good to talk so honestly and openly about everything, without having to calculate the other person’s response or judgment. It was possibly exactly what I needed in that moment.

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Finally, it was time for dinner. We headed to a fancy Italian place called Cochelin because my dieting friend craved some heavy steak. Unfortunately, the heat stroke during the day caught up to me and I was too ill to eat my $20 pasta, but had its weight in water instead. The interior was really cute, but it was one of those … I don’t want to say pretentious, but small morcel-sized places that disappeared quickly and sadly. Can’t vouch for the taste, but it wasn’t enough to bring me out of my sickly state. ^_^

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My way home

From Seoul to Busan, I tried to save costs by taking the Mugunghwa train which was almost half the price of KTX. It also took almost three hours longer, had no foldable desk, and bumped in rhythm to every stone on the track. I refunded my ticket and changed it to SRT instead, which was just wonderful and incomparable to the horrors of Mugunghwa. Everything felt cleaner and smoother, with ample leg room and fast enough wifi to watch Youtube the whole way. You can also charge your electronics as well. I got home in a breeze.

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Even though Busan is my birthplace, every single time I go back I feel like I’ve experienced something new and refreshing. There are still so many places to go and things to discover, like the postcard here with the ever so popular Gamcheon village that I am still yet to go to. Most importantly, I slowly began to rebuild myself up again. The night before, over a drink with my friend, I confessed that I was becoming increasingly introverted to a fault. Ordering coffee or talking to a stranger was a burden that I tried to avoid fully, and the social anxiety was crippling. On this trip, bolstered with the need to do everything myself, as excitement overcame my fears, and encouraged by the idea that I will most likely never meet any of these people again, I slowly began to open up again and learn that it’s okay to just breathe, and just be. With everything that went down this summer, this trip was one of the most memorable things that I did because in little, unnoticeable ways, I did a lot of healing, and that’s the best thing anyone could ask for in a solo trip.

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exploring, personal, Uncategorized

why words matter

The older I get the more I realize how soft my mother is to words. The last time I met up with her in Korea, she was so furious with my dad, over something he said in passing, that she ignored him for months and was on the verge of getting a divorce, when I told her to confront him and deal with it once and for all. They talked about it, best part is he didn’t even know she was mad. He apologized and she was all good after that. I’ve come to realize that my mom is not that steel hard wonderwoman I always pictured her to be. I remind myself to be kind and send some words of affirmation to her now and then, especially since we now live apart. I’ve done it countless times for strangers in club bathrooms. Reminder to be kind to those who matter the most.

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It’s only been four days since I’ve been back at school, and I must admit Senior Year is not quite cutting it.

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Being in the IB program, nothing has really changed. Same classes, same friends, same everything. There are so many things that I have to now manage, handle and submit it’s crazy.

I don’t know.

It isn’t that great.

I’m constantly trying to find the good in each day, in each moment. It’s truly, truly quintessential when entering the most challenging year of your academic life. It’s truthfully not all that doom and gloom. There are several things that I’m remarking about myself, which is quite pleasing actually.

I’m more confident. I started wearing sleaveless tops now, something that I’ve refrained from doing for the earlier 17 years of my life due to my insecurity with my arms. Now, I realise that I’ve been wearing tanks nearly everyday.

Not very earthshaking, but this is a memorable thing to me.

Also, I’m no longer intimidated by teachers who I constantly felt like running away from, I don’t care about little children and carry myself with self importance. This is not being conceited. I think I fully deserve it, because I’ve done my part groveling in the scrutiny of elders. I’m a fucking senior now.

So Swerve.

Hahahahaha. Peace.

Senior, betch.

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Teenage Angst…especially going onto college

Hello reader, most likely another teenager like me. Life is getting a little tough huh? Suddenly there seems to be a wave tsunami of forms that need to be filled out and outstanding curriculars that need to be recorded. At least, that’s the way it feels for me. I’m at that stage of my scholarly (haha) life where I am pretty much susceptible to all forms of negative influence, and I admit I’m not the brightest little sunflower seed out there nowadays.

An event that triggered this post was my recent toefl + sat exam results. My grades are really good in comparison to the standards of the US or the average school, yet I am incessantly being told that I’m not doing my best- that I can do better.

Now how possibly can I argue about that? Thing is, it’s getting real hard to get a compliment around here. I truly thank my family for believing me that much that they believe that I can push and be one of the best, but repeatedly I get that sinking feeling that my good just isn’t that good enough. 

I guess, what I’m just saying is that encouragement would be a bit more effective with approval and praise. Or perhaps I’m being a spoilt brat about this all. Who really knows.

So, for all my seniors to be, spending waaay too much time on the internet and watching/reading too many series, I salute you. Because even though we may guilt trip ourselves that we are wasting our time by not studying or that we haven’t got the best grades that we can possibly get, we are young. We are teenagers, years full of angst and indescribable joys that we can never possibly get back. So, viva la jeunesse! (hahaha that barely made sense) so yeah. To hopes, and to sorrows. May we find happiness.

 

(Any teenagers wanting to share their struggles/joys of studying feel free to comment below or send me a message!) 

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Next time you see her

Because this is something I wish he’d do.

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Next time you see her

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Think Hippie

Listening to One Love by Bob Marley, watching the silent rain presumably thunder and thinking, hippie thoughts. 🙂

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Think Hippie

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The Lesson from Goodbye

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I broke up with him because I believed there was no future. He, being a senior means that goodbyes are inevitable. I was so happy, he made me feel so secure. However, there was something that left me unable to fully express myself. I often times found myself returning home filled with regrets, thinking I should have done this, done that. I should have thrown my arms around him, said “I’d love to” when he asked me out instead of shying away and hurriedly heading to class. I could have gone over to him when I saw him studying by himself, instead of shying away with the look of my classmates. See, him being a senior and I a junior always placed itself as a heavy barrier between us, an invisible boundary that stopped me from doing anything. Dating him was already something of a risk for me.  I was filled with regrets everyday, and that’s when I realised that in fact, there was no need for me to feel that way. I was apologetic towards him for not returning the affection, whilst I hated myself for not being able to open up to him. 

However, I just believe that these emotions should come naturally. From the start, I’ve been calculating every single thing, every move about us and that is what stopped us from necessarily moving forward. He previously broke up with my friend (another complicated reason to our beginning) because he told her that he loved her, and pressured her when she could not reply.

He said the same to me, told me he loved me. It made me feel warm, and I glowed in his love, but I knew that there was no spark that I could later ignite into love.

I want a free love. A love that comes to me in overwhelming emotions which makes me dream of our future together, excitedly sleep in hopes of the day growing closer to it’s end to see him the next day, a love where I see him and my heart fills with joy and light.

I want a love where I can run into his arms at any time of the day, a proud love which I can proclaim in my heart’s herald day after day. I don’t want him to fulfill me, but help me positively grow into something that I never knew I had in me. 

I leave with a quote-

“Try not to confuse attachment with love. Attachment is about fear and dependency, and has more to do with love of self than love of another. Love without attachment is the purest love because it isn’t about what others can give you, because you’re empty. It is about what you can give others, because you’re already full.”

I eagerly await for a lover who I can pour and pour out my love, and leave me feeling satisfied at the end of the day.

 

He was a great lover and made me believe that there is someone out there for me. 🙂

Thank you lilly. You were a great first.

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