Not this again

23 10 2008

So an interesting thing happened to me the other day, for the third or fourth time. I was being evangelized by some Koreans. This has happened to me several times and, honestly, it is really annoying. They always come up to and act really friendly like they just want to talk. Then all of a sudden they starting asking you “Have you heard of Jesus Christ?”. The funny thing I personally find about this question is that, this far into the conversation they know I am from America, which is basically the most heavily Christian country in the world. Asking me if I know about Jesus Christ is kind of like asking me if I know who George Bush is. I probably knew who Jesus was before I could even speak, and I am in no way religious.

I try not to be rude to these guys as they do not mean any harm. If anything they think they are doing something nice, but they aren’t, so the other day I just told the guy that I was Jewish (which I’m not) as I thought that he would get it as I would have bee part of another religion. He goes on, however, about wanting to talk about Jesus. I find this all kind of strange, because not only does he not realize that America is a far more Christian country than Korea, but also that he either doesn’t realize what Judaism is or just doesn’t care. Although I very well could have discussed Jesus, since he was Jewish and all. Overall, this guy was so strange, much like how I see most Korean Christianity.

I really don’t think Koreans, quite get Christianity. Some believe that just by saying Jesus’ name that they can get into heaven, and this is 100% a ripoff from Pure Land Buddhism, where you chant the name of the Bodhisattva Amitabha to gain entrance into the ‘Western Paradise’ which heavily resembles Heaven. This amongst the rampant evangelism is pretty strange. It is essentially the same thing as door-to-door people in America, but you don’t have a door to close in these people’s faces as they are approaching you in a public area, and trick you into talking with them. I think if this happens much more then I am going to just give up on talking to Korean people in public, which is a shame, but this probably won’t happen anyways because that’d be stupid. Maybe I will just pretend to not speak English or something.


Osaka Osaka Ah-h-Ah!

13 10 2008

Japan is expensive. That’s pretty much all I got out of this trip to Osaka/Kyoto/Nara. The reason for this is that I did not do anything that I have not done there, other than be in Osaka city. I have only driven through it and been at the airport. Anyways, this is what I think about it…

So Friday we got to Japan and spent the night in Kyoto. We did the normal temple/shrine tour there, which I won’t go into as that isn’t what I would really consider the interesting stuff, as I have done it before. After all that we got to our ‘ryokan’, which is a traditional Japanese inn. The group went into Gion, the old part of the city, and saw some geisha women walking around there, it was cool. After a good amount of time walking around we finally found a bar. I was the only one that spoke Japanese in the group and I have never really gone drinking in Japan so it was a bit hard to navigate.

The place we finally found was a tiny place that held about 14 people and was run by a 20 year old girl and a 30ish guy. They were really friendly and talkative. It was a very cool small little bar that was pretty intimate. The food I got there with the beer was also extremely good. It was some wagyu beef with balsamic reduction sauce. Not typical bar food. After a drink there we walked back to the inn, where we went in the public bath they had. I always like those, they are very relaxing and all that. The yukata that you get to sleep in are also really comfy so it went well.

The next day we went to Osaka, where we walked around the Korean areas, which is pretty large. Osaka has by far the largest population of Koreans in Japan. They even have a semi-official ‘Korea Town’. By semi-official I mean the locals have declared themselves this. It was pretty interesting though to see all the Korean influence in the area, which is pretty huge. Lots of Kimchi and the like being sold in the streets. This was also the first time I really heard Korean being spoken in Japan, not just in the strictly Korean places either. I am not sure if this is due to the fact that I now know some Korean and can distinguish it or more that it is the area itself. Either way I heard some of it being spoken which was pretty cool. So after the Korean areas, I met up with a friend from highschool who is studying in Tokyo at Waseda University. She came back to the hotel with me while I checked in and then we went out to dinner.

We had some ramen, which is amazing. Ramen in Japan is sooo far from any other type of Ramen, so don’t think that it is in any way bad. The beer that they served goes really well with it too so I enjoyed that meal quite a bit. After dinner, we walked around for a little bit, but she had to get going back to her boyfriend’s parent’s house and then go back to Tokyo early the next morning. I met back up with people from my group and we went in search of a bar again. It took an equally long time, but eventually we found a place. This was a much bigger bar that had real capacity. They had great chicken and beer again, so it was good. The staff was also really talkative and friendly so it was fun. Our waitress thought I was Australian. After that we went to a karaoke place, and we got a room there. I liked it more than the Korean Noraebang, as we were able to order food and drinks and stuff. Then we went to bed after that.

The next day was uneventful during the day, more temples and such. The night was fun though. We went to a very busy part of town, known as Namba, and we just walked around. It is a BIG shopping district with a river that cuts through it that is pretty cool. The people watching was amazing as there were all sorts of people there. Lots of bleached hair and mini skirts as examples. It was pretty cool there though, and kind of made Times Square unimpressive, and this isn’t even Tokyo so… We then continued the night with food, drinking, drinking in the hotel, and slapping eachother’s hands in a game known as ABCD, where basically everyone just gets slapped. It was great.

That about sums up my trip to Japan. The day after that we just did a few things, and went to the airport so I will leave it there. I didn’t really take many pictures so they might not be posted. I still need to upload and decide and such… so thats it.

Pusan/Busan… I dunno which spelling!

9 10 2008

Pusan is a fun, fun place, especially during PIFF. PIFF is the Pusan International Film Festival, and actually the largest film festival in all of Asia, so it’s actually a pretty big deal. But back to Pusan proper.

So I was in Pusan last weekend and we went down Friday morning. We stayed at the Gwangjang Tourist Hotel, across the street from the train station. It was a decent place that could fit seven to a room so it worked. Around the hotel is an… interesting place. A few streets down is ‘Texas Street’, which is where all the Russian and American sailors go to hang out… yea… We walked through there during the day without really realizing it and it was interesting. Lots of Russian ladies waiting outside buildings and such. There were also Filipinos ladies inviting us into their restaurants for cheeseburgers, in English. It was pretty weird and sketchy, but colorful I suppose.

After our adventure through Texas Street we moved onto Gwangan Beach, which is literally in the middle of the city. By the time we got there it was about 6PM, but that didn’t stop us from going for a quick swim. Despite the fact that it was late and October the water was actually really nice. We then went and got some really expensive sashimi stuff, which is cool in Korea as they eat it with chili paste instead of soy sauce like Japan, but I wouldn’t say it was worth as much as we paid. We then walked along the main drag which is parallel to a bridge that has basically a light show, see the pictures below, and it was a nice evening, even though I was sick by then. We finished the night with the cab going super fast through the streets of Pusan… like 100km/h… through a big city.

The next day (Saturday) a small group of us got up and went to the Jalgachi Fish Market, which is supposed to be the biggest one in Pusan (there are many others). It was a pretty cool open air fish market, that actually barely smelled of fish, so you know it was good. We walked around and saw all the many fish to eat, even a few sharks for sale… there was also alot of blood there… After that we stopped at one of the many eateries along the way and got ourselves our very own octopus to eat, killed especially for us! This made it expensive too! It was pretty good though, sadly it wasn’t the raw, living octopus we were after, but it was good none the less, once again with chili paste.

After the sea we went into the mountains, literally. We went across town and hiked up a mountain in search of what we heard was a really cool hidden Buddhist temple. It took a good two hours to get there from when we started hiking, but it was sooo worth it. We met some random 60 year old guy up there who showed us the way and provided us with gimbap (rolls of rice with veggies, like sushi but without fish) and soju (alcohol!). This moment made me realize why Korean people love hiking so much, it gives them an excuse to drink in a really nice location. Once we got to the temple I was also once again really impressed, there were carvings in the rock wall and it was pretty cool to see that sort of thing in person. We then got to hike all the way down and go to another temple, Beomeosa, which is big and commercialized and not as cool, but they were having a concert there and these Korean girls were singing “It’s Raining Men” and “Dancing Queen”… it was a bit weird.

After the temple runs we went back to the ocean to Haeundae Beach, which is the big popular one. There we had a boat tour of Pusan which was cool and colorful since it was by then night time. After that we just sat on the beach, drank, and played games. We did have a piggyback-ride race and I was champion so I am happy with that. Given I was the biggest and carrying one of the smallest girls. It was a fun night.

On Sunday we went to go see a PIFF movie which was interesting. The movie we say was ‘Decade of Love’ and was a Hong Kong movie. It wasn’t the best movie, but it was interesting. I don’t feel like explaining it so I won’t… maybe try google? After that we walked to this park next to Haeundae beach (yes, we were there again) which was really cool, and it almost seemed like a fantasy land or something. I didn’t quite feel like it was a real place… I don’t know. After that we had the wonderful experience of taking the KTX (Korean Express Train) back to Seoul where I was sad to be away from the ocean.

Overall, it was a really fun weekend and I hope to go back to Pusan sometime, and I recommend that you go to Pusan as well. Here are some pictures:

Gwangan Beach at day/dusk

Gwangan Bridge at night

Jalgachi Fish Market

The hidden temple with some of the stone carvings, there were many more

Some of Haeundae Beach with Pusan in the background