We dock in Busan, Korea and it is all skyscrapers.. with a backdrop of mountains and very industrialized. The population has doubled to 50 million from 25 million in 196o.Having said that the Koreans are on the road to extinction by 2750 if they keep up with one of the lowest birthrates in the world.
Now having never been to New York I am not sure if this would rival them in skyscrapers.. it’s more than I have seen anywhere in the world! But I am not finished with the world just yet. We are blessed with warm weather on shore and cool in the mountains.
A couple from Langley BC agrees to share a Taxi for a tour of the temples. The driver does not speak English but has a cell phone and keeps in touch with his daughter (she went to university in Boston and speaks very good English) so she acts as a translator. The taxi for the day is 150,000 their money (135.00 american) . Had we not done the cab thing we would have missed out big time.
We travel so high into the cliffs and mountains (which are not far at all) that our ears pop. The climb of so many steps at both temple sites are so high that I am sure we are gonna need oxygen. The temples are beautiful and plentiful but the HUGE GOLDEN BUDDA is our reward for all those steps. I make an offering and a prayer (that I don’t die of a heart attack all that climbing)..lol
This temple is one of the most beautiful temples in the world, it is situated on a cliff and on many levels with various budda’s and other temples . It would take too long to explore them all but we have covered the main ones.
An unexpected stop is the UN Memorial cemetery.. here is where all of the fallen soldiers from the Korean war are buried. This ends up being an emotional experience for us because there are so many graves with fallen Canadian soldiers. I am humbled and feel tears forming, my dad and Sharon’s fought in the war and I think it changed his life. I think men fighting in wars are all changed forever.
This cemetery is huge, it is walled and guarded with soldiers. They have services here everyday to honour these fallen soldiers and a museum complete with a ‘thank you commemoration’ to each and every country that helped fight this war of almost 60 years ago. 27.000 Canadian soldiers fought this three year war with over 1500 casualties and over 500 died here.
It was a real eye opener to see these graves and how they are so honoured and respectful here (I should mention here I was stepping on the grass and a soldier came over to point out this unintentional dis-respect.)
I need to read up on the history of these places.. I am so uneducated.. but now I want to know so much. Everything is all more interesting when we are actually here and can see and touch these places.
Well this trip is not complete without taking in the Koreas largest fish market . I have to say here that this is a surreal experience and it is smelly and at times disgusting , this was.. well you just have to experience it , words are not enough!!
Most of these fish creatures are kept alive.. talk about cruelty to animals omg.. eels.. squid (big and small), sand crabs in the sand and put on their backs so they can’t crawl away when they poke them with a stick to show they are still alive. Quick story.. a squid got away from an old gal selling them and she chased it down the street waving a stick.. yelling at it the whole time and cursing! Sharon and I were rooting for the squid but all in vain… darn!!
Humongous giant crabs in tanks (makes you wonder if they are mutants from radiation) every kind of fish and snail (so many species of snails) clams , prawns, stuff I don’t recognize, and here is one I do.. they look like penises!!
This is a marine spoon worm commonly referred to as fat innkeepers worm or penis fish.. Sharon though she was going to hurl..lol.. omg you have never seen anything like it! If you don’t like fresh they are also drying all these species as well.
I think they even sell fish guts ! They clean them on the spot and we can also eat them in little narrow couple tables.. places behind. There are little hibatchi fires in the middle of the tables or bowls with a grill and fire . Sharon and I take a pass on that one.. the smell is just too much. Besides , I did the haggis in Scotland.. it is Sharons turn…lol.
All this is surrounded by skyscrapers as well as old buildings looking like they are from the war. It is a incongruous mix of old and modern. I am trying to find a coffee and come to a Tom Tom Coffee shop (I am not kidding) it is like a modern Tims. I point to an ice cap because I can’t see a picture of a real hot cup of coffee, and a pretzel.
My overall impression is modern.. vehicles are new and shiny and surprisingly dent free. Did I mention the freeways are in excellent repair and they have lots of lighted tunnels and a few toll roads as well. Oh and also the longest spanning bridge in Asia, kinda looked like the bridge in San Francisco only twice as long.
Oh yes the beaches here are miles long and sandy and they look clean. The International Film Festival starts here this week end and you will see a lot of South Korea in the news and Hollywood gossip shows . We got to see all of this as well but unfortunately no Brad Pitt or any other movie stars.
The city seems to have smog , it is kinda hazy here. I think they import a lot of their energy needs. We did see a big development with huge solar panels on the roofs and it is encouraging. There are lots of open air shops selling goods and vegetables along with the huge shopping malls. Signs in English are a surprise but there is a lot of western influence here.
I am told by Nora and Ken (couple from Langley ) that North Korea is starving and very, very poor (she took in the lecture.. we missed it). They are also developing nuclear weapons and I am having a hard time figuring out why this should be, what are we doing to ourselves? Why can’t everyone get along?
Anyway we enjoy this excursion and when we get back onboard and leave port Sharon and I curl up in a deckchair and blankie and watch a movie under the stars. Xmen is showing.. .not a movie we would go see at home but we are tucked in and comfy and don’t feel like leaving. What is with all these super hero movies.. are we so short of our own role models that we need to make them up..hmmmmmm