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Trip Report Busan Trip Report 31 Dec 14 - 8 Jan 15.

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Sorry I don't know how to do short reports.

Busan 31 Dec 14- 8 Jan 15

A spontaneous trip booked to visit our DD who has a 6 month gig at the Park Hyatt hotel in Busan.

Day One

Our flight left Nelson New Zealand on New Years Eve, 6.40am which meant we had to be at the airport by 6.15am. An early 5am start for us. Thankfully our bags were checked all the way through to Busan. We flew Air NZ to Auckland and Korean Air to Busan via Seoul.

We left Auckland at 10am arriving at Incheon in Seoul at 5pm, and then left for Busan at 7.35pm arriving at Gimhae (Busan airport) at 8.40pm, (12.40am NZ time).

The flight to Seoul was packed, the plane was a 747. We sat in a middle row, aisle seat and the one next to it, so we wouldn’t have to clamber over other people to go to the restrooms. We didn’t have much leg-room at all, and couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep, so dozed most of the way. I couldn’t wait for the flight to be over. Unlike Air NZ which keeps their planes on the cooler side, this one was very hot. I was totally over-dressed.

I did love the service on Korean Air. The flight attendants were very attentive and polite. The food choices were good, one Korean option and two Western choices. My DH tried the Bi Bim Bab. He ate it but didn’t order it again on the return flight. I think it is an acquired taste. I didn’t try it at all but the beef meal I had was nice.

We didn’t have to change terminals at Incheon, but had to make our way to the transit area to catch the next plane. We didn’t go through immigration until we got to Busan. We were given instructions to follow on how to get to the transit lounge and go through security, however in my view there should have been several additional steps. One of which should have told us we actually needed to catch a train to the other terminal. The instructions that were given made it sound like you got off the international flight walked for a few minutes until you got to the transit lounge. In reality you walked for at least 15 minutes with me saying we are doing this wrong, we should be there by now!!!. In any event if you follow the signs you eventually get there. They also make it clear that if you go through Immigration there, then you cannot catch the flight from the transit area, so I knew we shouldn’t go through Immigration.

The flight from Incheon to Gimhae was very quick. This was on a 737 and seemed to have a lot more leg room than the 747. We were met at Gimhae by my DD’s friends who volunteered to come and pick us up and take us to see DD who was already playing for New Years Eve at the Hyatt. This saved us having to take a taxi or airport bus to get to our accommodation and then find our way to the Park Hyatt.

I had spend several weeks trying to find an apartment on AirBNB (we couldn’t afford to stay at the Park Hyatt!!). I managed to find one that proved to be no more than 5 minutes walking distance from the hotel which proved invaluable when we were walking home after the gigs most night. Even when it was really cold we knew we would be home very soon. It was advertised as luxurious which it wasn’t, the couch actually had a tear in it, the rug had dirty marks, but it was comfortable and perfect location for us. Also grocery store downstairs, an Italian restaurant in the same building, Korean BBQ over the road and an Indian restaurant close by.

DD’s friends (now our friends) dropped us off at the apartment, it was nearly 10pm. We did a quick change of clothes and then they drove us to the hotel. When we got there the Living Room Bar was packed so we couldn’t even get in to see DD playing. Eventually a lovely Korean couple asked us to join them, they come to see DD play at least once a week. They were very generous to us. Our friends unfortunately couldn’t get in, but waited for us in the dining area until we wanted to go home. We were extremely tired by now so only stayed until 11.15pm. We did have intentions of staying until midnight but wasn’t fair to have DD’s friends hanging around waiting for us. We had a great sleep and all set to go sight-seeing the next day.

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    You must have been exhausted! But I'm sure it meant the world to all involved to be able to hear your DD play the evening of your arrival. Great way to start the New Year!

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    Warm Friday greetings, nelsonian, from another satisfactory business stay in Auckland, New Zealand. Thank you for your superlative opening post. (And do wish to extend gratitude to your fellow, fine New Zealand denizens for a most memorable ~ fortnight; initially, holiday, South Island, followed by the aforementioned meetings in Auckland. You are blessed with a special country.)

    Should you ever desire lodging, dining recommendations for our fine home of Singapore, honoured to assist. And, concerning flights, happy to give suggestions. You probably already know 'your' Air New Zealand officially entered into a closer alliance with 'our' Singapore Airlines earlier this week. And, speaking of Air NZ, will once again have the privilege of flying another work-related, business class flight - NZ 8 - from AKL to San Francisco this weekend. Have always enjoyed flying NZ for work and the occasional leisure flight.

    Keep up the brilliant work, nelsonian, and good travels to you. Warm Friday and early weekend wishes to you and all from Auckland,

    macintosh (robert)

    ... Singapore Girl, You're a Great Way to Fly ...

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    Glad to hear ( from your other thread) that you managed to keep warm.

    I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of your trip. You put me to shame as I still haven't reported from my October trip.

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    Looking forward to more! Glad you found a coat to keep you warm!

    The flight we took to Germany was so friggin hot I thought I would freak out! We were in business class on a 747 in the upstairs but in the back so maybe that was the problem but it was miserable.

    Too bad the Airbnb place wasn't up to par, but at least it was convenient.

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    Day Two (New Years Day)

    Had a good night’s sleep after adding some extra mattresses to our bed. There was a foam mattress rolled up in the lounge which we put on to our bed and made it a bit more comfortable. DH went to have a shower and we found we had no hot water. There was a control panel on the wall for heating but it was all in Korean. The owner had left a manual with some English translation but turned out to be of a previous unit!! We texted DD and she came over and by taking photos of the panel and importing them into Google Translate she and DH were able to work out which button was for the hot-water. It was all gas heating, so it didn’t take long for the hot-water to come through. I am sure if we had contacted the owner he would have given us instructions but it was a bit early in the day to do that we thought.

    There was about an inch gap around two of the windows, which was letting ithrough very cold air. DH went on a duct tape hunt and ended up taping up the windows, made it a lot warmer.
    There was also no toaster, or knives, but we improvised. As DD said it was like camping. There were spoons, forks and chopsticks but no knives, when we were shopping for the duct type we found a couple of knives as well.

    Our first sight-seeing venture today was to wander around Dongbaek Island and walk to Hauendae Beach which was just a short walk from our apartment. This was the coldest day of our visit. I was bundled up in a merino top, a wool coat, a windbreaker, hat and gloves. Hundreds of years ago Dongbaek Island was actually an island but is now part of the mainland. This was a very nice walk with great sea and city views especially of the Gwangan bridge. However this is much more spectacular at night when it is all lit up. It was Interesting to see a group of fisherman with very long fishing rods, fishing off the rocks. I never saw if they actually caught anything. Dongbaek Island is also where the 2005 APEC conference was held, and we went and had a look at APEC house situated right on the sea, with magnificent views. There were a couple of other memorials to see such as the mermaid, and the lighthouse. A very pleasant walk, not too strenuous after our tiring flight the day before.

    As we got closer to the golden sands of Haeundae Beach we saw there were a lot of people milling around, even though it was very cold. My DD said that there would have been hundreds of people there very early in the morning to see the first sun-rise of the New Year, more important to Koreans than New Years Eve and the count-down to midnight. Apparently the beach is packed in July and August which are the two summer months for going to the beach. Thousands of Koreans visit Busan this time of the year. They all disappear at the end of August, and the beach is virtually empty after that.

    We walked back to the Park Hyatt for lunch, did a bit of supermarket shopping, where I found a down coat at Home Plus for 50,000 won. It was perfect, a lot warmer than what I had been wearing. We then went back to our apartment for a bit of a break before we went out for Korean BBQ in the evening. The views from the Park Hyatt are also spectacular, looking over the marina and the bridge. The Yachting Centre is right next door to the Park Hyatt and was where the yachting was held in the 2008 Seoul Olympics.

    We met DD at about 4.30pm so she could help sort out our tickets for the subway. First you buy a subway card for 2000 won ($ 2) and then you add money to the card. DH and I loaded 10,000 won on each of our cards and that virtually lasted our whole trip, and we did many subway rides. Each subway ride was 1200 won. The closest subway station to us was Dongbaek about a 10 minute walk from our place.

    We were meeting DD’s friends at Gwangalli beach for Korean BBQ. This was two subway stops from Dongbaek so didn’t take very long to get there. The Korean subway is a lot cleaner than the New York subways that for sure. They looked pristine. The sun was just going down as we got to Gwangalli Beach, there were a lot of people around being that is was a public holiday, and the light display on the bridge was starting to come on as we walked along the beach for a short time. We met up with DD’s friends and headed off to where we were to have our meal. Unfortunately it was closed due to the holiday and ended up having to go to a Plan B. There were a lot of Korean BBQ’s around and their second favourite was not far away. We have no Korean restaurants in New Zealand and had never experienced this type of BBQ before. It was very interesting, watching the waiters bring out the hot coals and the hot plate, and then cooking the meat. There were a lot of side dishes too some of which we had not had before including kimchi. I am not a very adventurous eater so didn’t actually enjoy the kimchi. I stuck with the more familiar items like the spring onions, macaroni salad, sprouts etc. I loved the BBQ meat, we had pork and beef. I also tried some Soju which I quite enjoyed!! We had a great night, DD had to leave to get back to play at the Park Hyatt but DH and I decided to give it a miss tonight as we had been out with her all day, and also needed a reasonably earlier night. We took a taxi back home which cost 10,000 won. A very enjoyable first day in Haeundae Busan.

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    Your description of Korean barbeque is making me hungry! I like that they use scissors to cut up the meat.

    I hope you left a bad review for the apartment! We were lucky the house we rented was actually nicer than it looked. The price has also gone up since we stayed so I guess the owner realized he wasn't charging enough.

    Looking forward to more!

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    Yes I forgot to mention about the scissors, it is certainly a different way to cut up the meat. I decided not to leave a bad review, we managed to make it work and it was so convenient to where our DD was staying. There were big signs on the wall that we were supposed to turn the heating off when we left the apartment but we never did. It was the middle of winter after all, and we didn't want to come back to a cold house. We also thought it was more economic to leave the heating on rather than switching it off all the tine.

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    Day Three

    We were very fortunate to have our very own tour guide to show us around today. DD’s friend offered to drive us to the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple which was a short drive from Hauendae. She and her husband have an apartment at Haeundae beach so we walked there to meet her. I forgot to mention yesterday that there was a statue of a large sheep on the beach with the number 2015, we couldn’t figure out what that meant until we realised that 2015 is the year of the sheep!

    The Yonggungsa Temple is unusual in that it is located right on the coast amongst the cliffs, most temples are found in the mountains. We arrived there about 11.30am and it was very extremely busy due to it being New Year. Apparently a lot of Koreans visit at this time to make a wish for the coming year. We could see the number of cars ahead of us and decided to opt for one of the further away carparks rather than take a chance of trying to get a park closer up.

    We had a short uphill walk to the entrance, where you were greeted by street vendors selling different types of food and crafts. This seemed a bit too touristy for me. We then passed statues of the twelve Zodiac’s which had human bodies coated in armour and animal heads. I wasn’t sure how you knew which statute you belonged too and my DD said it was all to do with your birth year. I thought these were fascinating. I was born in the Year of the Snake. Many people stopped by their particular statue to have their photos taken.

    We then walked down the 108 steps to the temple complex itself, there are some gorgeous views of the coast-line and of the temple from about half way down. You need to take your time going down the steps though as they are very uneven, and not a set distant apart. We passed the wishing statues where you throw a coin into a bowl and make a wish if it goes in, unfortunately we all missed!!!! This is a very worthwhile place to visit, so many different things to look at and appreciate such as the Golden Buddha perched on the edge of a cliff, the beautiful Pagoda guarded by four lions, the dragon statue which I loved. There were many others also. We entered the shrine hall to listen to a monk chanting and look at the interior. We didn’t think it was a good idea to take photos at this point. We spent about an hour and a half looking at all the sights, and the wonderful sea views, and then had to walk back up all the steps. It was getting very crowded by this stage and the queues of people coming in were slowed down to a crawl. At least we could take our time walking back up as we just went with the traffic flow.

    We stopped for lunch at a cafe opposite Songjeong beach. There was only one other group of people there so were served very quickly. We enjoyed sitting in the sun eating our pizza (not very Korean) watching a man flying a kite on the beach and others taking a stroll along the sand even though it was rather cold out there. This beach is used by the locals more than Hauendae beach which gets extremely crowded with tourists in summer.

    After lunch our “tour guide” drove up up to the top of Mt Hwangnyeongsan Mountain to see the Smoke Signal Station, and where you could get a panoramic view of all of Busan. There are smoke stacks built on the top of this mountain which were used as a means of communication during the wars hundreds of years ago. There were other stations built on adjoining mountains so it was possible to warn others if enemy ships were coming. Every year there is a beacon lighting ceremony on the mountain. It was getting very cold by now so we didn’t stay around too long. 

    We got back in to the car, and drove to Mt Geumnyeonsan which was only a short drive away. There was another viewing platform here and again had a brilliant 360 degree view of the city. A lot of photos were taken!!! DD’s friend dropped us off at our apartment for a bit of a break before we spent the evening at the Park Hyatt listening to DD.

    We did get a bit of sticker shock to discover a glass of wine was 21,000 won. We ordered a glass each (a NZ Sauvignon Blanc which costs about $ 15 a bottle here!). We were debating what to order next when one of DD’s friends who work in the Living Room Bar appeared with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine each. This happened most nights, but when we were buying drinks we switched to spirits as they were much cheaper.

    We stayed for there for about two hours, and then walked back to our accommodation. It was very cold walking back but a very pretty walk, as a lot of the shrubbery and buildings were lit up with Christmas lights. DH thought about taking photos when we were walking to the Hyatt but decided he would wait until we were coming home. However much to his disappointment most of them had been switched off, so we had to wait until the next night to get some great photos.

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    I loved Yonggungsa and am so glad you got to see it!

    I, too, found that wine -- when I could find it -- was surprisingly costly. Wish I'd had someone bring me some complimentary sparkling wine, ;-)

    Looking forward to hearing more....

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    Day Four

    This proved to be a very long day, I actually had to call time on it as I had very sore legs and was just exhausted after all the walking.

    My DH was mainly interested in seeing two things in Busan, one was music shops, and the other was electronics, stores similar to Radio Shack when it used to sell electronic parts for making different gadgets. We had done a bit of research before we left and found that there were 25 music stores in the Busajin Market. This sounded very interesting so this was first adventure for Day 4. Well first of all we had a delicious breakfast at the Hyatt, and then set off with DD to find these music shops.

    I must admit I did get tired of walking to Dongbaek subway station most days, but cannot complain about how cheap the subway is at 1200 won per ride. We had found directions on the internet on where we needed to get off to get to the Busanjin market and find the music stores. We had to get off at the Bujeon subway station, take Exit 1 and walk straight until we came to the Bujeon station (Not the subway station). Then turn left and walk 3-5 minutes, look for a large building with two ramps out the front. We found the building no problem at all. However this was a major disappointment. Yes there were a large number of shops, a lot of them were repair shops, or just shops that were storing old pianos, keyboards or electronic organs. There were a few brass instrument shops, and some shops that stocked a bit of everything but nothing out of the ordinary.
    DH was interested in modern keyboards, and electric pianos, but didn’t find anything that sparked his interest. We owned a music shop many years ago, and DH works in one now, he wanted to be blown away by seeing all the products that are made in Korea but no such luck.

    We gave up on the music shops and instead started looking at the market itself. This is a much older area of Busan compared to Haeundae and more like what I imagined Korea to be. Haeundae was built on reclaimed land in the 1970’s and the majority of buildings are hight-rises. Busanjin on the other hand had much older buildings, narrower streets, and a lot more people!! There were hundreds of stalls, selling all sorts of produce, fruit, fish, spices, clothing etc. There were a lot of vendors selling oranges, mandarins, tangelo’s etc. It was the middle of winter though and couldn’t help wonder where they were actually grown. The smells, sounds, and colours were totally different to anything that we see in Nelson We do have some markets but normally only at the weekend, and mostly farmers markets.

    DD decided that as we were not far from the Busan Tower we should hop on the subway again and make our way to Yongdusan Park where the tower is located. This was a nice getaway in the middle of a busy shopping district. There were escalators going up to the park itself, where there was a pagoda, some donkey rides, a flower clock, and thousands of love padlocks symbolising you love by locking it up and throwing away the key!! There was a 4,000 won entrance fee for the tower itself. It is 118 metres high so very happy there was an elevator. We had a small wait for the elevator which took us up to the cafe level, but there was one more level to get to the top of the tower and the viewing platform. You were able to get a fantastic view of Busan, and there were signs on the wall describing what you were looking at. We stayed here for awhile and then it was time to go and explore that Nampo-dong Market. There were a lot of steps going down but it an easy walk.

    Our DD loves the Nampo market, she likes to look and buy the clothing as it is cheap. and loves looking at all the bags, and jewellery. There were just streets and streets and streets of stalls. I actually got tired of it all. There were crowds of people all pushing to get past, none of the clothes would actually fit me, so I wasn’t really looking at them. I was interested in getting some for my grand-children but couldn’t work out the sizing. We went through the fish market and that got a bit much as well. So many stalls selling the same type of fish and the smell was a bit off-putting. DH was getting a bit bored also. We were just starting to get to the lighting shops, camera stores, phone shops which he was interested in, when I decided I just wanted to get back to our apartment. I had no idea where we were either. DD managed to get directions to the nearest subway station which was still quite a walk away.

    It was the middle of a Saturday afternoon and the subway was very crowded We managed to get a seat at the next stop but then I felt a bit claustrophobic as there were many many people standing in the middle of the train. As we got closer to Dpngbaek station the numbers had lessened and it was a much nicer trip home.

    We spent the evening at the Park Hyatt, switching to Gin and Tonic's and Bourbon and Coke instead of wine!!

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    I loved the views from Busan Tower; didn't like Nampo at all -- not my scene!; and was glad to visit Jigalchi (the fish market) as it was closing, when there were fewer open stalls, the AC/refrigeration (whichever) more effective, and the smells subsequently diminished. So I can thoroughly appreciate the decision to return to a hotel and switch to a decent alcoholic beverage (not the wines most commonly available, IME, in the area).

    I guess I'm not alone in finding a few trying moments when traveling.... ;-)

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    Thanks for reading kja, we seemed to do a lot of the same things, but you a lot more adventurous than us, and fitter than me I think. DD did want to take us to Igadae Park but decided it was too far for me too walk!!

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    Well, I wasn't trying to visit anyone! And I wasn't there in winter. And much more importantly, I don't think the point is whether you did the same or different things, but whether you enjoyed yourselves -- and I sincerely hope you did. :-)

    Looking forward to reading more....

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    Yes, I feel like a travel wimp sometimes. I really hate trying to navigate large crowds of people.

    Funny you mention looking for music shops. My son did the same thing in Osaka and wound up kind of lost so spent cab fare to return to the hotel, after not finding anything. A few weeks ago in Frankfurt I walked out of my way to find a music shop in the hope they would sell t-shirts with their name on it so I could by one for my son. Of course they didn't.

    Did you try soju when enjoying libations? My husband is quite fond of it, but I don't like it. It is pretty budget friendly.

    How does your daughter like Korea?

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    We had a wonderful time on our trip. The only thing I didn't really like because I was out of my comfort zone was the crowds at the markets and on the subway. Haeundae where DD is living, is a very beautiful place, very clean, gorgeous coastal views, seemed a lot quieter than other parts of Busan, but that would be because it is mostly a summer tourist destination. It would be totally different in July and August.

    Seehag I had a couple of small glasses of soju, I actually liked it!!! We did find one small music shop in Centum City but it was actually part of a large department store and only sold Yamaha products.

    DD loves Busan, she has been out and about a lot. She has made friends with several of the hotel staff and likes to go out with them when she can. They all work different shifts and DD only gets Sunday off so a bit difficult to co-ordinate. She has a US friend coming to visit at the end of this month so will enjoy showing her around. I think they will do the more adventurous stuff that we never got around to doing.

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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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