I’m sitting in a high-rise cafe, downtown Pusan. On my right is an unhealthily large long black and on my left a stack of books I don’t understand. In front of me there’s a cinematic TV quietly shouting baseball. I can see the stadium is packed with people and adds that look like stock market updates. Baseball is huge here.
When I finish my coffee I’m going to buy the translated version of one the books, then I’m going to the university next door to eat some rice porridge. It will cost me $4.
The last two days have been bliss.
Yesterday was a strange day for me – I went sight seeing. I was planning to eat my way through the Pusan suburbs but I was keenly adopted by an unlikely pair, Nicole and Lewis. Nicole’s Malaysian, two months older than me, has the linguistic ability of a babel-fish and a smile made for TV. Lewis is Brisbaneian, he likes esports and beer and he says ay when he’s comfortable. Next to each other they look like a pair of lovers chosen by aliens for their genetic diversity. Lucky for them, and the future of the human race, they get along great. They’re incredible company and the three of us make quite a team.
This is where we went together.
Beomasa temple. Old, big and hard to make – the holy grail of tourist attractions. I was pretty impressed, not enough to instagram, but enough to utter a melodic stream of open mouthed vowel sounds*. There should be a scale for that. Somewhere near the top of the scale would be this guy.
4km from the prettyimpressive temple was a really fucking impressive mountain. Usually I take to photography with the confidence of a blind armless man with ugly feet and limp slugs for lips (there’s only one way for this guy to take photos and it requires a lot of mental fortitude*) but yesterday I was slinging my iPad around like a drunk Clint Eastwood – I’ll shoot you, I’ll shoot that, I’ll shoot anything.
This was all 30minutes from the centre of Pusan. It’s a pity Pusan is so overcrowded with a homogeny of monstrously beige skyscrapers because it’s surrounded by a ridiculously beautiful mountain range, bay and beaches.
None of us had planned for a day of hiking so we were ill equipped to deal any semblance of hunger, thirst or icy mountain winds, all of which were in great supply after several hours of mountain climbing. It probably didn’t help that we spend most of the day talking about bibimbap. Lewis had never heard of bibimbap* and seemed to be quite excited at the idea. I’m always excited by bibimbap.
When we got back to the city Nicole befriended a metro info dude to ask about locating us some tasty bibimbap. He turned out to be the most helpful metro employee of all time. He drew us a hand-made map to his favourite restaurant. He then called them to check if they were open. They were open so he told them some foreigners were coming and they should treat us well.
This is where he the map took us.
There was four tables, three customers and one chef. The front table was loudly occupied by two drunk old men who talked like they’d spent 30 years swallowing lit cigars. The table behind then had a young office who helped us navigate the a verbal menu. The woman running the place, old, doll-like and irresistibly huggable, treated us like a respectful pop-starts. She bowed constantly and swiftly and when when she talked her eyes leapt out with the same intense enthusiasm as her voice.
This is what she made us.
Actually come to think of it everything I’ve had has been fucking excellent.
The fashion here is so exciting. There are so many different styles. In Australia, with the exception of some more eccentric cultural minorities, our fashion sense is similar to our political situation – all the different groups blend into each other pretty seamlessly. Here in Pusan there is so much shit going on. I feel like a tourist at a zoo in the 1800s – sure I have some idea what lions and elephants look like but I’ve never heard of a tapir – wtf is a tapir? Yesterday I saw a guy wearing a matching two piece tracksuit. It was patterned like the fuzz of a lost tv and it sagged and clenched on his body in liberal waves. The top half, a singlet with a hoodie, sagged out at the belly and clung to the waist and shoulders. The bottom half, three quarter pants cut off by elastic just below the knee, sagged on the sides but clenched the middle ( I could clearly see the outline of his penis – a decent package). He didn’t even stand out, there are tapirs everywhere.
Tonight Lewis and I are going to watch Starcraft on TV and afterwards I’m going to meet Joshua at a bar for soju and football.
I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.
*Oooooohhhh, hhoooo-eeee, oh-we-oh, ohy. Koreans love to express themselves without words. I’m culturally fickle and I’ve already adopted these sounds into my vernacular.
*and sexual prowess.
*a Korean mixed rice dish – usually served either cold with a fried egg or in a hot stone bowl with raw egg.