Everything counts in small amounts

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Busan Christmas Photo Essay

Hello Everyone. Well, even though I've gotten lots of encouraging responses, people have been pretty slow in joining and posting to the site. So, I thought I'd push things along by putting up the first extended entry. It's a photo essay about the trip Jiyeoun and I took to Pusan during Christmas. Sit back and enjoy and then post something of your own. Post damn it!

So Pusan is on the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. It's South Korea's second largest city and biggest port. It's a 45-minute flight from Seoul.

The trip was meant to be lowkey. We reserved a swank hotel room in a 5-star hotel right on the beach and planned on laying in bed, getting drunk at the bar, and walking on the beach. It was more of an end of the semester celebration and a change of atmosphere than a Christmas celebration. Christmas is a modest holiday here. It's more significant for the accompanying days off work than for the things like exchanging gifts and meeting family that Americans know it for.

We flew down early Christmas morning and were in the hotel by 9:30 a.m. Here's Ji in front of a Christmas tree in the hotel lobby. This is about as Christmassy as it got. The boxes of presents are empty and there are no name tags on them incase you're wondering.

Here's me in front of a traditional Korean Christmas painting. The waves symbolize God's wrath and the sun represents God's furry when he smote Cain for killing Able... I'm kidding. There's no such thing as a traditional Korean Christmas. Christianity didn't come to Korea until the 14th century... But the Lilly pads do represent Het-ban, the traditional confectionery King Wang-gun ordained all Korean children eat on Liberation Day in celebration of his victory over the Japanese army in 1349... No I'm kidding again... Ha...

Here's Ji in our room. Those two picture windows overlook the ocean. They offered some spectacular views. More on that later.

Here's Haeundae beach on Christmas day. It was beautiful and sunny, but a little bit nippy. It was much warmer and less polluted than Seoul, so we were happy. Haeundae literally means turtle mating beach. For thousands of years hundreds of turtles have returned to this beach to mate and lay eggs each June... Ha! I'm joking again. No matter how many times I do that it never gets old... Ah...

Jiyeoun looks happy enjoying the sun, sea, and sand. Beatific smile.

We came across this sight on the way back to our hotel. These aging Church mothers were playing Christmas tunes – Rudolph the Red Nose Rain Dear and Frosty the Snowman – on Korean versions of a pan flute. It was surreal and cute. I guess you should expect that when you go to the beach for Christmas.

This net full of balloons was behind the stage the Christian grandmothers were performing on. They were waiting to be released later in the day - the balloons that is, not the Christian grandmothers.

I took a long nap.

Then we headed to happy hour. It ran from 6-8 p.m and was included in the price of the room. They weren't stingy with the alcohol either. Here's me enjoying my current drink of choice, rum and coke. Notice the huge smile. And, I'm not even on the beach.

Here's the view from our room at night. Gorgeous.

The next morning Jiyeoun and I went to the Pusan aquarium. It's right on the beach and is one of the best aquariums I've ever been too. Not that I'm an aquarium connoisseur.

Jiyeoun and a penguin. (Jiyeoun is wearing glasses so she can see the animals better.)

Scary lobster

Scary jellyfish

Scary tiger fish

Scary tiger fish from the side

Not so scary blow fish

Arrrgh it's a shark look out! These half-ass aquariums letting the sharks just swim about waiting for unexpected otters to gobble up. Really, you'd expect more for 10-dollars a head.

Look Jiyeoun, I found a fish! Look! You're not looking...

This is the view from our hotel room the next morning.

We got up early and went to the Chagall exhibit at the Pusan Metropolitan Art Museum. It was huge. There were approximately 100 of his paintings along with a photo history of his life. I was really impressed. But, we couldn't take pictures inside the exhibit. So you're going to have to be satisfied with this poster.

But, we were allowed to take pictures in the rest of the museum. This was part of a crazy instillation art exhibit. Jiyeoun had a blast... Settle down Jiyeoun. You're going to get us kicked out with your rambunctiousness.

Whoo, shinny exhibit.

Look out Jiyeoun there's some kind of crazy pink, stuffed saw-ax falling from the sky! I don't know Officer. She was just standing there. I was taking a picture of her and all the sudden this pink fabric saw-ax thing just came crashing from the sky. I mean, isn't there someone we can sue. There has to be a law against this. What kind of godless country is this that they don't have laws against pink fabric tools...

Here's my attempt at art outside the Pusan art museum. It's a metaphor of man's existence: a child caught in a maze, running back and forth, always ascending to the heavens but never knowing it because he's trapped in a world of gray tile and cement. The pain! I'm selling prints for $500 a piece. E-mail me if you want one.

Well that's it. The rest is just more of the same. More drinking. We ate some sushi and bought some books. Walked along the beach. Slept a lot. Went to the sauna. There were too many naked old men and it was too wet to take pictures. I know you're disappointed.

Hope this has encouraged you to post. See how much fun it is?

Best wishes, Isaac.


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