Busan Trip Report 31 Dec 14 - 8 Jan 15.

Old Jan 17th, 2015, 01:09 PM
  #21  
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Day Four

This was a bit more relaxing day for all of us. As it was Sunday DD did not have to play in the evening. I think she had planned a full day excursion but flagged that after yesterday’s adventures where I had got tired of walking!!!

I wanted to go to the UN Memorial Cemetery as I have a client who was in his late 80’s who had fought in the Korean war. I also have a Korean client (in his 50;’s) whose family had been ‘adopted’ by the first client. When I told my elderly client I was going to Busan he told me how he had two members of his platoon buried in the cemetery.

We decided this was the main thing we would do today. It didn’t seem too difficult to get there on the subway, it was on the green line which is the one from Dongbaek and then there was a 15 minute walk from Daeyong station. It was a nice day , about 10-12 degrees C so didn’t have to have all our winter gear on. The cemetery is next to the Busan Museum, we didn’t go there but DD intends to go and visit in the future.

The cemetery is set in a very large park area, and is very serene and peaceful. As you walk through the gates the guards ask which country you are from. There is a short video at the visitors centre that you can watch and gives you some facts about the war. We did this last though rather than first!!!! Each country has it’s own separate area in this beautiful setting. Lovely landscaping, and well set out.

New Zealand was one of the first countries to participate in this war, (technically it was not a war, as the people participating were all part of a peace-keeping force under the UN). It is only recently that the New Zealanders have been eligible for the same entitlements as service-men from other Wars. There were only 36 New Zealanders killed but this was a very high percentage of the number who actually took part. It was so sobering to see all the gravestones, not just of New Zealanders but of all the countries. A huge number of young men from the US were involved which was reflected in the memorial walls where at least three long walls had the names of soldiers from each state in the US. There were some lovely memorials/statues from each country. There is also a water feature which runs alongside all the gravestones but doesn’t operate in the winter as it just freezes over.

My client had given me the service numbers of his friends who had died, but as you were not allowed to walk on the grass between the graves, I could not actually locate their specific graves. He had said that one of them ended in 4, the other 6, and he was number 5!!.

We probably spent two hours here just wandering around looking at everything. When we left the guards saluted us. I had read there were flag raising and lowering ceremonies at 10am and 4pm which are good to go and see if you are organised to be there at those times.

On our walk back to the subway station we walked through the grounds of the Museum, and then grabbed a coffee to drink on the subway. We planned on being back at the Park Hyatt for lunch. The subway was not crowded, and it was quite relaxing as we didn’t get off it for 9 stops. I still think 1200 won is an amazing price for the subway.

Lunch service stops at 2.30pm we got there at 2.25pm. DD wasn’t sure if they would let us in seeing it was so close to time, but they did and we had a really nice meal with a wonderful view of the marina.

DH and I went back to Homeplus to try and find some souvenirs to take home. This was proving difficult as DD had actually given us and her brother and family a lot of these for Christmas.

We met up with DD later on in the evening and went to an Indian restaurant close to our apartment for dinner. This was a lovely meal, there was only one other party there, so not sure how they make money, although DD said most Koreans eat out later in the evening. As DD did not have to play tonight she went to bed early, it is usually 1am-2am most nights after she has finished playing.
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Old Jan 17th, 2015, 02:49 PM
  #22  
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I, too, was impressed with the UN Cemetery -- I thought it well done and well maintained. You probably couldn't tell in the winter, but there is a different rose bush at each grave -- different in color and size and various other ways. I thought it a magnificent way to individuate what was otherwise elegantly simple and uniform.
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Old Jan 17th, 2015, 06:21 PM
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I did see the rose bushes kja, but didn't realise they were all different. That would have been great to see.
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Old Jan 17th, 2015, 06:28 PM
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Next time!
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Old Jan 18th, 2015, 12:23 AM
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Day 5

Not too much to say about today. We only had two days left and DH still hadn’t found any electronic stores or music shops, so we were on the hunt again!!! We discovered there was a large department store called E-Mart not far from Hauendae about two subway stops further on from Hauendae at the end of the green line. DD wanted to show us the Hauendae markets as well so we headed off in that direction after breakfast at our apartment. We had walked to the beach a couple of times but hadn’t actually looked at the shops or markets in this area. DD had been told there was a shop there that sold Amercian size shoes. She has a problem getting shoes in Busan as she is a size 9, and most shops only go up to size 8. She did find a pair that fitted her and was very happy. I must say the selection was very limited but she was just delighted they were a size 9!!!

She also showed us a large store that had 5 or 6 levels and she spent a long time looking at all the clothes. DH and I got a bit sick of waiting around while she looked but it was interesting to see what was being stocked. No luck with electronics or music stores!!! There were a few streets that had stalls selling fish, fruit, household products etc. We spent a couple of hours walking around this area, and decided that was enough time looking at shops. We flagged going to E-mart, and thought we would go back to the Park Hyatt for lunch. DD then remembered that there was a fish and chip shop in the Bay 101 building near the Westin hotel. It was called Fingers and Chat!!!

Coming from New Zealand fish and chips is one of the iconic take-away foods so DD wanted us to try it out to see how they compared to NZ. Well they were okay but not nearly as good as what you can get here, and the seafood chowder wasn’t very nice at all. As you can probably tell by now we did not eat much Korean food at all.

That was about all we did on Day 5 except going back to the Park Hyatt for dinner and to listen to another evening of music. As this was a Monday night, there was no-one in the bar but us and the bar staff. DD took requests and played us some of the old songs she used to play when she lived in NZ, she also played some of her originals that we had not heard before. We only stayed for one set, thankfully some more people came in before we left.
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Old Jan 18th, 2015, 12:24 AM
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Day 6

Another shopping day, this time to Centum City the home of the biggest department store in the world, the Shinsegae store. We got there just before 10.30 so it was opened yet. Next door was a Lotte shop which wasn’t open either. We did see the staff doing what seemed to be a beginning of the work day type of chant. When 10.30 came there was some march music being played and we were welcomed in. As we walk down the aisles and passed each department all the shop assistant s bowed to us. It was quite a strange feeling. One thing I noticed was that you only had to appear to be interested in a garment and the assistant was right there to tell you all about it. A bit daunting as I prefer to look and something and then if I needed more information to ask about it then.

We left Lotte and went into the Shinsegae shop which seemed a lot less formal that Lotte. The staff were much more relaxed. Shinsegae is a beautiful store, and huge. It has two cinemas, and an ice-skating rink. We watched a lot of children being coached on how to race on ice skates and there will probably be an Olympic champion amongst them in 10 years time. This is where we found the Yamaha music shop, a very small department in the corner of one of the floors.

We then decided that we should go to E-mart as we didn’t get there yesterday. Quite a few more subway stops in the other direction. We actually got off one stop too far and had to ask for directions to find our way. When we got there it was right beside the station we should have got off.
We still didn’t find what we were looking for, so gave up and went back to the hotel for lunch at about 2.30pm.

This was our last day in Busan so DH and I did some more souvenir shopping, went home for a bit, then took pizza back to our DD for dinner. It felt funny carrying a pizza into a 5 star hotel!!! Another great evening although very quiet in the bar.
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Old Jan 18th, 2015, 12:25 AM
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Day 7

We had to be at the Busan airport by 1.30pm and had been told it could be up to a two hour taxi ride depending on the traffic. We had a final breakfast with DD at her hotel and she got the receptionist to order a taxi and give instructions to the airport. There were a few tears as we were leaving from everyone concerned!! We were flying domestically from Gimahae to Gimpo in Seoul and then had to transfer to the international airport in Incheon. The taxi ride only took 40 minutes so we were a tad early. The taxi fare was only 22,000 won or $ 22 which was very reasonable. We managed to get booked on an earlier flight which we really appreciated although the computer went down just before our baggage labels were printed. Our bags were checked all the way through to Auckland. There was about a 15 minute wait before the computers were working again and it was getting close to our boarding time. We rushed to Gate 11 and there was no-one there. All the announcements were in Korean so weren’t sure what was happening. Luckily a Korean woman ended up at the same place and she heard that there had been a change of gate. We rushed to Gate 15 where people were already boarding. It seemed very strange to go through the boarding gate, and then walk down some stairs and get on to a bus!!. I hadn’t stuck this before but DH had, when he had visited Japan a few years ago. We were bussed to the other side of the airport to our plane. The flight between Busan and Seoul is only an hour so passed by very quickly.

We were bussed to Gimpo terminal when we landed and had been told to get to Incheon all we needed to do was go out the exit doors and there would be buses waiting to take you to the international terminal. This proved to be very easy, we had thought of taking the train but we could see the airport bus out the door and seemed to be the best way to go. We bought the bus ticket from the driver, 10,000 won each. The bus was nearly full by the time we got on. It left straight away. The route we took seemed to be a special bus route to the airport which had been built for the Seoul Olympics. There wasn’t much traffic but it still took nearly an hour to get there. I was glad we had been given an earlier flight from Busan.

The bus dropped us off at the Korean Air Terminal. We had some lunch, looked at a few shops for more souvenirs. I found a nice chopstick and spoon set that I was going to get for my son and DIL, but thought I would wait and get them once we were through security. Big mistake, once through security all the shops were big brand shops and there were lots of them. Getting through security was hassle free, no need to take your shoes off, although you still had to take laptops out of bags.

Our flight left at 5pm, another full flight with hardly any leg-room. As it was a night flight we were able to doze off but didn’t really sleep. It was a long 11 hours. We got back in to Auckland at 8am the following day and arrived back home in Nelson by 1pm. We managed to stay awake until 7.30pm more than 30 hours since we left Busan.

We had a fantastic trip, it was great to spend a lot of time with our DD and see how she is coping with doing this hotel gig. She still has three months to go but seems to be enjoying it. We would have never have visited Busan if she had not been there and we loved seeing a new country, and experiencing a different culture. We didn’t immerse ourselves fully though as we only ate Korean food on two occasions!!!
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Old Jan 18th, 2015, 12:37 AM
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Oops just realised there are two day fours, sorry about that.
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Old Jan 18th, 2015, 10:54 AM
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I'm glad you enjoyed your trip and your visit with your daughter. Thanks for telling us about it!
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Old Jan 18th, 2015, 11:34 AM
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I really enjoyed your report! I am glad to hear that your daughter is enjoying her stint in Busan. I felt like I offered encouragement based on my son's experiences so I would have felt bad if she hated it!

Is she still doing a gig in Japan? Maybe another trip for you to see her?
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Old Jan 18th, 2015, 02:20 PM
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She was offered the gig in Japan, but then the hotel wanted her to extend in Busan for another two months, so she turned down the Japan gig. She is thinking about doing this sort of thing once a year but probably for only three or four months.
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