Sunday, June 20, 2010

May 27- Busan, South Korea


I wasn’t sure what to expect of Busan, much less Korea. Things were dicey, to say the least, and tensions were high with North Korea. Here we were, bound for South Korea.

Unlike China, now my second home, I had never studied anything about Korea. I didn’t have a clue about the language or the culture. I had friends who came to the University of Akron to study and they were shy and sweet. It was a sampling of 3 out of millions, so I am guessing I am not getting a true reading.

After a grueling day of traveling that started at 5am China time, I was looking forward to sleep. I expected a single person waiting for the group at the airport if anyone. As I dragged my tired self and my heavy backpack down the ramp to follow the rest of the group I began to hear cheering and laughter. I walked through the doors to see about 10 students, several men in suits and giant banners welcoming us. This was not expected.

They gathered around us rapid firing questions in English about what we liked and had we had a good trip so far. It was like we fed off their excitement to see us and gained some energy back. The students of Pusan University for Foreign Studies walked over to the baggage claim with us and helped us with our bags.

We followed their smiling faces to a giant tour bus sized nice bus. They loaded our luggage and we boarded. The bus was decorated with a mix of old and new Korea and was quite comfortable.

Once aboard they announced they had a gift for us then proceeded to hand out beautiful gift bags. Each one contained a paper weight and a very expensive umbrella. Which they stated, we might need.

Driving to our hotel the braver students would sit next to us and point out things that we would pass. I wish I would have had batteries for my camera because the views were exquisite. The city was lit up with lights as if set out to welcome weary souls.

We arrived at our hotel and expected what we had grown accustomed to in China, a standard and sparse room with a view of our neighbor’s house. This was not the case.

We are given room numbers and told that it is 4 to a room instead of our customary 2 in China. We all go with the flow and head up to the 6th floor to see what awaits us. Getting off the elevator was the first clue that we were in for a treat.

Our doors were open and we walked into what could only be described as “wow.”

Beautiful wood floors, no beds just ornate pillows and pads for us to lie on. The furniture was set up for lying on the heated floors and on our beautiful dresser was a large bunch of bananas, a huge box of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, bowls, spoons, instant coffee, cherry tomatoes, and below was a refrigerator. All this wasn’t from the hotel but the school and the students. They even stocked orange juice and milk in the fridge. We hadn’t seen such western comforts since leaving the States 2 weeks prior.

We rushed to look at everything. Toilet-check, bathtub-check, amazing balcony with a view of the ocean and mountains- check and double check! We have arrived in paradise.

The group was full of excitement as we investigated all of the rooms. The girls all had rooms like ours, with the traditional style bedding and heated floors. The boys, however, got beds. Which was cool by me because how often can you say you slept traditional Korean style with an ocean view.

As we settled in for the night, I could hear the waves crash against the beach and I thought to myself, “yep, I’m going to like it here,” and I did

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