Tuesday, August 16, 2011

here comes the sun

While Gwangan beach is clogged with umbrellas and floaty toys, the rocky Eastern end just has shellfish. There are bikinis in the distance, but the people gathering mussels wear hats, gloves and bandanas.


Monday, August 15, 2011

the boy in the bright blue jeans

There are a lot of advertisements in Korean bath and body stores for men's products. My Korean boyfriend has less chest hair than I do.

(I think he's advertising face cream?)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back to the top

On the East end of Gwangalli beach (where Autumn lives) there are two big buildings that, together, kind of look like an owl's face. Like many tall buildings in Busan, they are mostly empty. Autumn and I went up to the fifteenth floor, just because we could.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Boris the spider...

Along Haeundae beach in Busan, there are a number of interactive murals.


(I don't know if I'm supposed to fear the future or the giant spider.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


It's become a custom for Autumn and I to spend weekend days (before and after the roller coaster rides, of course) people watching at cafes.

The Paris Baguette near Kyungsung University is an excellent venue, as it offers sandwiches and salads as well as tasty sweet things, and on very hot July days it is also air-conditioned.


(That delightfully shiny ring-o-balls on my tray is a mochi ring, which I highly recommend if you ever come across them in the States. They have them at Mister Donut and Dunkin' Donuts here, but I don't know if they do over there. It's chewy and sweet in the same way that you'd imagine Hello Kitty is chewy and sweet.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hail Caesar

Centum City is the world's largest department store, according to Korea. I'm not sure I believe that, as a department store with a Cartier department and a Tiffany department (and a Gap department and a Bookstore department) very closely resembles what we call in the West a "shopping mall."

But I would believe that Centum City has the most elaborate subway station. It looks like Caesar's Palace!


Monday, August 8, 2011

hotel, motel

Nancy Drew's got to have a mystery out there called "The Secret of the Navi Hotel."

I first visited it with Peter on Valentine's Day when we took a walk along the beach and he needed to use a washroom.

The open doors on the ground floor showed a shiny gold sign that says “Navi Hotel.” The front desk was on the fourth floor, so we took the elevator up and entered the dark, bare front desk area. Behind the desk there was sheet-covered polyhedron of chairs. This was not a bustling hotel. Pete wandered down the hall and managed to turn on the light for the bathroom. I wandered into the dining room, which overlooked the sea. A screen split the room in half, and the far side was piled high with unused furniture.

On the civilized side of the screen, there was a table with coffee service, and the stirring-spoon was in a dish of water with a quarter of an inch of evaporation. Someone had made tea and then tossed the teabag into the bin. The samovar was still plugged in. This place had recently been occupied.

The most unnerving sign of a quick departure was a turntable that sat spinning silently on a table by the entry. How many days ago had the record finished?

(This is where we danced to Roy Orbison. Come on, it was Valentine's Day!)

Anyway, I went back with Autumn last Saturday night. This time, we saw that the lights were on on the 4th floor, but the elevator was completely dead (there were actually spider webs.)

We climbed the stairs to the 4th floor and ended up in the outdoor patio area. This is the view of Haeundae beach.


Inside the dining room, there was a man sitting at a table. He didn't seem to notice us. When we left, we walked through the 3rd floor which is where the hotel rooms are. The elevator was stopped, gaping, on this level. All the doors were dark except for one that was open with a woman inside watching television. She looked up at Autumn and I and we hurried down the hall like really, really bad secret agents.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Every weekend, I take a bus from my little suburb to Sasang station in Busan. For the last couple of weeks, the Busan bus station has been under construction.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jumpin' Jack Flash

Much of the non-beach coast in Busan is littered with these giant concrete jacks, an attempt to subdue the waves that try to come over the walkways.

There are also public outdoor fitness stations which frequently have giant white hula hoops. This one looks so sad.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rollercoaster (of love)

This summer, Autumn and I have spent a lot of time on roller coasters. ME World is the amusement park at the end of the beach where she lives, and we definitely appreciate being able to say, "Breakfast was nice. Want to go ride roller coasters?" on a Saturday morning.

This is Me World:

The roller coaster thrills with sharp, jerky turns. Near the end of it, there is a big bird's nest right under the track.
(See the rusty ladder to the right of the yellow car? I dare you to climb it.)

Autumn and I rode the Merry-Go-Round picturesquely.

(Of course we dress like this on Saturday mornings!)

This is the drop tower

And this is the view from the top of the drop tower.

Autumn and I both appreciate how lucky it is that she lives on this beach! It's bittersweet that I will spend just one more weekend here before heading to Thailand again for my summer vacation.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

walk the dinosaur

I had heard that there were dinosaur footprints in Busan, but had never actually visited them. In June, for Peter's last weekend in Busan, we went to Igidae Park to find them.

And I'm pretty sure they're in this picture. It's about the same as the picture in the brochure, but I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking at. Interpret away.

Igidae Park has a lot going for it, though. There's fishing!

You can see the *other* side of the Gwangalli bridge

And those potentially-dinosaur-footprint-puddles are full of tadpoles and little frogs!

There's a path that goes along the water and past this structure

Which is full of...

I've been told that stacking rocks is good luck. I think this looks like the set of the "chatty duelists" scene in the Princess Bride.

There's a cave.

And Pete was brave and athletic.

Monday, July 4, 2011

among the silent temples

Tongdosa is the big, famous temple in Yangsan.

Peter and I walked there from Fantasia, on a path that took us along a creek surrounded by big, still pine trees. Someone was painting them.

These fellows were not amused.

There are rafter dragons.

And plants growing from the roof

At six, everyone gathered in one part of the temple complex

to watch this monk ring the giant bell.

Outside the walls, there was a skinny bridge

over a stream.

Friday, July 1, 2011

stop at the top of a Ferris wheel

There's an amusement park in Yangsan called Fantasia. Pete and I visited.


There was a FOUR-D dinosaur movie. The fourth dimension was lightning, as expressed by a strobe light.

Pete models his glasses:

The rollercoaster at Fantasia is way better than the one at ME World in Busan. It has two loop-de-loops and a corkscrew.


This track goes around much of the park, and there are pedal-powered cars that you can ride around it.

Here, Pete and I are about to start our journey. It is only beginning to dawn on us how uncomfortable the seats are.

Like the one at Me World, this roller coaster never stops. It's so big that it just goes very slowly and you have to get on and off quickly at the bottom.

Peter and Pan!

And this ride was pretty cool. The lever controls the height of your car, and the wheel the direction. You have to make the "pew pew pew" noises yourself.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cave of Wonders

The Yangsan Dinosaur Cave museum is... a... science? museum in Yangsan. Pete and I ventured there one Saturday.

Dinosaurs greeted us:

Caves are cool. Dinosaurs are cool. This cave was used during the Korean war for something and looks like it was part of the Dharma Initiative.


Inside there were some fossils of things. There were also some minerals, which can still fit with the "Cave" aspect of the museum's name, if not the "Dinosaur" part.

As we walked further into the cave though, the exhibits stopped making sense. There was a room full of interactive paintings like the ones I posted about here. There were some things in jars.

There was a dead chinese man, pickled and divided into one-inch slices in a questionable knockoff of "Body Worlds."

There were three Santa Clause mannequins, one with a saxophone. There was a 3-D Dinosaur movie!

Yeah, that's a pirate back there with the dinosaurs.

Outside, there were pathetic, angry monkeys in cages. And raccoons. And this:

It's a tunnel that rotates around a catwalk. The inside of the tunnel is splattered with blacklight paint, and as it rotates, you feel like you're falling sideways. It's an amazing illusion and probably the most interesting thing at the Yangsan Dinosaur Cave Museum.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I have a lesson

My second semester will end in three weeks, and I still haven't shown you my classroom!

This is the English room at Naedeok Middle School, where I teach on Thursdays and Fridays.

There are 36 seats, but I have a couple of classes with 38 students, so sometimes they have to share desks!

I wanted to share this. It's from an activity where I gave groups of students an answer (like "because it's fun!") and they wrote a question to go with it (like "Why do you play soccer?")

The answer here was "I feel happy."
(Monkey and People was the name of their team.)