“lo que me hizo crecer”

Date: 1/3   –   1/5

Location: 東京   –   大阪   –   The Open Ocean   –   부산    [Busan, South Korea]

My last day in Tokyo had basically one goal: The Square-Enix Shop. If you didn’t know, Square-Enix is the conglomeration of video-game producers Squaresoft [Final Fantasy, Chrono Cross, etc.] and Enix [Star Ocean only comes to mind] and their Shinjuku store contains heaps of character goods. Incidentally, I was [am?] also a gaming nerd [see photo below], so a visit to the shop was essential, [basically]. They had fukubukuro of Square-Enix Toys, which was unfortunately abbreviated as “SQEX TOYS” but I felt like most of that would have been Dragon Quest goods which I don’t really care about. I bought a few things but decided against buying Sephiroth and Cloud’s personal colognes [wtf, those even exist?]. Speaking of which, there was a life-sized Sephiroth in the floor.

Afterwards, I had about SIX HOURS to kill so I just went in and out of bookstores in the Shinjuku area waiting for the departure time for the bus. In Shinjuku’s skyscraper district, there are a handful of free observatories on the nth floors of some of these tall buildings and I was able to take this shot of Tokyo. It’s a nice city, but really too big. Sorry 関東, Osaka has my heart. Well, actually, Kyoto does, but don’t tell Osaka.

Oh and also, Murphy’s Law applies anywhere and everywhere. I got a nasty surprise when I tried to check-in for my bus reservation and they told me my bus had already left. A month ago. -_-;; I had booked the bus a month off. In the haze of anger at my own stupidity, I had to ask them to place me on a bus that left Tokyo that night or else I would miss my ferry the next day too. Also, I accidentally saved over my fall expense reports. Derp. And so I shelled out an unnecessary 60 bucks to book another bus that was just as miserable as the bus to Tokyo lol, complete with the crying baby and the snoring man sitting in the seats behind me. I made it to Osaka alive, though. Years of extracurricular-club related travel on coach buses have numbed me to the pain involved. If I can make it from Miami to Washington D.C. on a bus, then I think I can handle  Tokyo to Osaka.

PS, I am also writing this portion from a McDonalds in Shinsaibashi. [Boy is it good to be back where I know where things are.] I don’t really have to be at the
International Ferry Terminal until like 1:30 so I have some time to bum around Osaka. Which I literally am doing because I have NOWHERE TO LIVE. Lol.

Anyway, I’ll probably write more later once I’m actually on this ferry. We’ll see if it’s anything like the “ferry” I took from Barcelona to Rome.

~ ~

And there she is, the PanStar Dream. A freight liner-cum-cruise ship that is set to depart Osaka carrying its passengers to Busan, in South Korea. It was definitely better than the cluster of logs held together with rope image that I always get when someone says “ferry” but it certainly wasn’t an ocean liner on the way to the Bahamas. Although it tried to be, it really did. There was a nice VIP lounge we weren’t allowed in, a dining room with velvet curtains and plast ::cough:: crystal chandeliers. It reminded me of what I imagined Casino Princesa [of South Floridian commercial fame] would be like. In my mind, the phrase “Asian Titanic” kept popping up and if that were actually the case, we were definitely in steerage. The entire bedroom portion of the ship smelled like the oriental store my aunt used to work at. And things were only just clean enough.

The food, however was pretty good. We had a buffet style dinner and breakfast included in the ticket price and it was traditional Korean fare, which was tasty. Aka kimchi kimchi kimchi and spicy spicy spicy. Let’s see, what else happened. Oh, I exchanged all of my money with stoic asian men on them for different money with stoic asian men on them. The showers were public in nature and included a sauna which I didn’t use. Naked etiquette in Asian showers seems to follow the rule of: “It isn’t awkward if you don’t look.” And it wasn’t. And knowing that, I am ready to conquer Japan’s onsens upon my return.

Also included was a little show that the crew [the same that had served us dinner and welcomed us aboard] had put together. It was mostly sad and consisted of a bunch of solo instrumental acts, a skipping CD player, one [actually very good] magician, a looping fireworks display, a couple of dancers from Russia, and a man who sang a garbled Engrish version of “I just called [to say I love you]”. It was sort of amusing and sad at the same time and it definitely helped me form some “memorable nostalgia” as the emcee liked to call it. I also thought up stories for the people on stage while they were performing. On the left we have Irina. She inherited the accordion from her ailing father and now plays the folk songs of her mountain village every night to a crowd of people that can’t appreciate them. On the right is Nadia who attended the Conservatory of Music in Kiev but due to a family emergency, had to seek work as a crew member on this ship. Now this is the one night a week that she gets to wear her nice dress. Ahoo.

Everyone I was traveling with, myself included, was also a little worried that none of us spoke any Korean except… what we know from the Korean pop songs everyone is into and… korean foods. So if we were ever in an emergency situation, all we could say is like: “AUGH, BIBIMBAP. NAE GA CHAEIL CHALAGA! NOONA NOMU YEPPOH! SARANG HAE! D; BUGOLGI!” [Augh, boiled rice with assorted vegetables. I am the best. Noona is so pretty. I love you. D; Simmered beef.] The thought itself was so amusing.

The seas got rougher as we approached the Korean peninsula and Julia and Andrea got progressively more seasick, but finally, after 16 hours, we reached our destination. South Korea’s second-largest city, Busan, loomed on the horizon, an industrial monster backed by mountain greenery. After I received my fancy Republic of Korea stamp in my passport, we were set loose on the city… and we had no idea where to go. I entrusted all planning for our two days in Busan to my friend from Japanese class, Ji-young, who is actually from the area. Her cousin would meet up with us and show us around for the two days.

We checked into our hostel [which is a converted apartment and actually very quaint and nice] and set out to meet Ji-cheol. After a short time freezing our asses off in front of the Lotte department store in Seomyeon, he found us and we went sight-seeing and all that. He took us to this restaurant for some hanshik traditional Korean food and it was awesome and ridiculously cheap. Did I mention that basically everything in Korea is cheap[er than Japan]? It’s such a relief after the beating my bank account got from living in Japan.

I won’t bore you with historical details, but here are some pictures of Nampodong [the southern shopping district], Yongdusan Park [with Busan’s tower] and the Jagalchi Fish Market. Thanks Ji-young and Ji-cheol! Couldn’t have done it without you!

I finished the day off with a maccha [excuse me, nakcha] green tea McFlurry type thing from Lotteria which was one of the greatest things ever. Korea, I like you already.

One Response to ““lo que me hizo crecer””
  1. hopeinjapan says:

    most fun everrrrrrr

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: