In the next of a seemingly never-ending and murkily funded series of trips, I present Korea. Kana and I went over on Golden Week, the stretch of holidays in Japan which annoyingly has two non-holidays in a row right in the middle of it. It is often "frowned upon" in Japan to take these days off and go on an extended vacation, because assumedly everyone else will be in the office working, and you might recall my issues with heading to Laos last year
. So this time I just cleared it with my teachers and the principal, got on the boat, and told the BoE about it when I got back and handed them their souvenirs. I COMPLETELY RECOMMEND this as a far better way to do things. Plus my new boss is Aya's dad, who has had us for dinner many times, and been to my place in Perth on top of that, so I think it went down OK, comparatively.
So anyway. Despite the difficulties in getting away on GW, the travel companies jack up their prices because they know everyone will be trying to take holidays at this time. Is this a typical practise in other countries, and I have only noticed it since coming over? I appreciate the whole concept of making supply meet demand, but in some cases doubling travel fares just seems a little too opportunistic and cold to me. I hate it. So, we took the slightly cheaper option of hydrofoiling it over to Korea rather than going by plane. A 3 hour ride from Hakata to central Pusan sounded OK. For those who need some geography help:
I've been lucky enough to have been to a reasonable assortment of countries over the years: for posterity and for my own recollection's sake:
Australia; Japan; New Zealand; Indonesia; Hong Kong; Singapore; Laos; USA; England; Scotland; Wales; Ireland; Russia; Czech Rep.; France; Austria; Germany; Holland...
and, apart from Chunneling to la France, it's always been by plane (or train across Europe), Australia being the massive island that it is. So a brief 3-hour boat trip across to Korea just didn't hit me as being a foreign excursion - immigration procedures were brief, we walked out into the middle of Pusan, and the city looked just like any big city in Japan. What I mean is that it took me some time to realise and adapt to the fact that I was no longer in a country where I could speak the language and understand the customs. The last time that happened was Russia, the scariest caucasian country going around. I guess that's a symptom of having adapted to life in Japan over 3 years as well.
Anyway, I think this time I'll spare you the details of Pusan - let it be known that it didn't take so long for me to spot the differences with Japan. I think my nose was probably the first to realise... On the surface, Pusan was just like Osaka or Kobe, but a quick detour even a block from the main drags soon reminds you that Korea is not the almighty urban development centre that Japan is proud of being. Kanako had predicted that.