Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sunrise 2006 - Pusan

This new years was like no other. For starters, I didn't wake up with a hang over, instead, I celebrated it Korean style, watching the first sunrise of 2006 on Hyunde Beach in Pusan.

It started late Friday night. Alice and I, being the rebels we are, decided to bypass all the Koreans patiently waiting for permission from a sign to line up downstairs for the train. There was virtually no one on the platform besides a small group of individuals, all-peering at the tracks. That is what drew our attention to the man lying on the rails!

The guy was dead still. Other than the fact he wasn’t moving, he didn’t look to be in too rough a shape. The only visible trauma was to his jacket. None of the on lookers were actually doing anything. I had a flash back to First Aid 101 and remembered the first rule of helping a person at the scene... make sure it’s safe. During this thought some staff ran by to tend to the situation... so I decided to get some footage.

A Korean guy near me was filming the whole event as well. An authoritative figure in a black uniform carrying a radio approached and asked him to stop recording. The guy blatantly ignored his requests. After a minute or so of confrontation, the guy tried to get ME in trouble and justify his own actions using the classic “but he’s filming it too” argument. For some reason, Mr. Authority opted not to try and stop me; perhaps the language barrier deterred him. I didn’t want to disrespect so I started filming covertly, my camera by my side.

Eventually the men put the victim up on a stretcher and carried him to an ambulance. Alice and I tried to eavesdrop on whatever information we could but in the end it was the train station workers who came to us looking for answers. Rumor has it the guy jumped in front of the tracks as the train was coming and the conductor slammed on the breaks.

Alice and I, both having studied many seasons of CSI, were able to agree that the positioning of the victims body on the tracks and the extent of his trauma did not support the hypothesis that he jumped in front of the train. In our professional opinions he tried to jump in front of the train and instead hit the side. Both of us were surprised at the lack of scene preservation by the authorities. They simply picked the guy up, dragged him to the ambulance and brought the next train in.

The ride to Pusan went quickly. We drank a few beers I had packed and then passed out for the roughly thee hour journey. Once in Pusan we headed for a Jim Jil Bong (Bath House) Alice had heard was good. The whole Jim Jil Bong experience was a lot more comfortable this time, both mentally and physically. I still got stares but I think my being more at ease put everyone else more at ease.

When Alice and I met upstairs in the sleeping area there were people splayed out everywhere. It was nearly impossible to find a clear patch of floor. I’ve always though that you were supposed to be able to actually have a good nights sleep at one of these places and it was just the fact I was Canadian that kept me from achieving this. So I was surprised when Alice told me how awful her sleep had been while stretching the kinks out of her soar body the following morning.

There are many factors that contribute to a poor sleep at a Jim Jim Bong. Usually the floor is too hot, the lights are on, the TV is on, the kitchen is noisy, people cough, snore and walk around, yappy adolescent girls use the Jim Jil Bong to host their sleepless sleepovers, doors to saunas and smoking rooms are constantly opening and closing and cell phones with the most irritating ring tones are constantly going off. Oh, and did I mention the floor is made of stone... and the pillows are made of wood?

I wasn’t even lucky enough to get a “pillow” that night and I’m not even being sarcastic when I say “lucky” as the following morning I realized just how comfortable a wooden pillow is in comparison to the floor. When Alice handed me chunk of wood in the morning I buried and snuggled my head into it like it was plush, oversized, feathery, down pillow... it felt sooooo good. While I have managed to construe the Jim Jil Bongs as hell on earth they are actually very pleasant despite all the mitigating factors. I slept far better this time than the last and I have a feeling this trend will continue.

*Concrete stars piled up along to coast to stop erosion... I presume. (Click On It!!! It's a killer photo!)

*A fish market we checked out on the walk -- never knew squid could jump like that...

The next morning we had a walk along the and then breakfast at a funky bakery in Heyunde, where Alice used to live and work. Sleep deprived, we decided to grab a nap in the hotel we had booked for New Years Eve. We went back out on the town later that afternoon and checked out some shops and our new beach. I played this shooting game and won Alice a stuffed animal, it was all very cliché. Actually, I was one shot away from winning two prizes in the same game! I figured out that if I took up a kneeling position and shot upwards at the smallest and lightest animals I would have the best chance of winning. I nailed this little dog thing right between the eyes and sent it flying backwards, just millimeters short of falling off the shelf.

*I'm gonna start a Top Ten List of what NOT to name your bar...

Thai food was on the dinner menu and I fulfilled my two-year yearning for Masuman Curry. One of Alice’s old friends joined us for dinner and then took us to a funky Japanese restaurant that served up some processed fish byproducts in broth. I mostly stuck to my peanuts and hot Saki. We spent most of the night there and then went back to the hotel.

*Funky fish byproduct restaurant

*Crowded beach

We were up at 7:00 the next morning and ready to catch the Sunrise. It was magnificent! The beach was absolutely packed with people from end to end. Swarms of helium balloons with wishes attached drifted into the sky and many fishing boats, ship and tankers patrolled the shores. Then three helicopters did fly bys! When the sun peaked from behind the horizon the crowd let out a giant cheer.

The first thing we did in 2006 was check out the Aquarium as it was half price. It was the best I’ve ever seen, very nicely done. The biggest tank held 4 or 5 sharks, a giant tortoise and schools of fish. You could also walk under sections of it! Everything was there from critters that lived in the Amazon river to creatures from Korea’s coast line.

*The extreamly rare GregoFish - Can be found in Lake Kokanee, Pilsner, Prime, Hite and all other beer based lakes

After the Aquarium we ate some traditional Korean beef stalk soup and than grabbed a short nap. The last part of the trip was spent doing some shopping for me. I needed a winter jacket and sweater. I ended up getting a jacket with a patch that said “Funckin Freezing” with a half a maple leaf beside it and a sweater made in Canada... kind of ironic. We bought some apples, oranges, Gim Bop and other goodies from the market and picnicked on the beach before catching the train back home.

I like Korean style new years. I think I’ll do it again next year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am glad you liked korean style of new years. I had great fun!Good to have something like this which can remind us of what we have done together for the new year,2006.However, I am not going to spend my new year's eve at Jim Jil Bang!!! I needed nice and cozy sleep..It's amazing you had better sleep than I did.You are getting "koreanized".^^