Tuesday, June 30, 2009

다대포 낙조

This is Dadapo Beach (다대포해수욕장, 多大浦海水浴場). It is located at the western end of Busan city and is a good place to enjoy both the sea and sunset. The view of sunset is almost unobstructed from the beach.

Dadaepo Beach is not a resort beach or at least it doesn't look like one currently. You don't find tourists around except for locals. It is not one of those beaches in Busan that is easy to get to.

Dadaepo Beach has a very large area of shallow patch. You can actually walk very far out into the sea and water level is just at waist level. Due to the relatively flat gradient, waves arrive at the beach like 'sheet' of water being drawn across the seabed.

Time is 7:29PM - Sun is about to set at Dadaepo. The carpark is packed with cars. The beach may look kinda 'quiet' from the pictures above but the truth is, it is quite crowded.

Dadaepo Beach has a new attraction - Dadaepo Sunset Fountain (다대포 꿈의 낙조분수). It is supposed to be the world's largest 'floor' (or 'dry') musical fountain with a diameter of 60m. Time is 7:37PM - Large weekend crowd has already formed up around the musical fountain waiting for the show to start at 8:00PM.

탈출 서울

Took out my beach sandals and rested on the beach. The day doesn't look sunny but trust me there was a lot of sunshine. So much so that I got myself burnt.

Last Friday was the last day of Spring Semester and the start of Summer Vacation. My friend asked me to join them for their weekend Busan trip. We met up at Seoul Station and took an almost 3-hour KTX ride to Busan. The train left Seoul at 3:10PM and arrived Busan at 5:55PM. A standard KTX train ticket costs 51,200won but as we were made to take back-facing seat, a discount of 2,600won was given. We ended paying 48,600won each.

Once we arrived at Busan Station, we walked out of the station building and found our way to the subway station. Our destination, Haeundae Station (Line 2) is 21 stations away from Busan Station (Line 1) and there was a need to make transfer at Seomyeon Station from Line 1 to Line 2. The subway ride took about an hour and costs 1,300won. Coincidentally, on the day of our arrival, a strike was going on and the subway was made to operate at only 50% efficiency. As a consequence, the waiting time for train was longer and the cabin was also tightly packed with people.

We didn't made any reservation for our accommodation at Haeundae but it didn't took us very long to settle on B&B Hotel which is located just one street behind Haeundae Beach. A decent single-bed room in the hotel costs 60,000won while a twin-bed costs 70,000won. Out of curiosity, we also checked out the room rate at the 5-star Paradise Hotel. The quoted rate for sea-view and city-view room was about 380,000won and 250,000won respectively. My friends weren't really 'dazzled' by the room rate since they are from well-to-do family but I was.

B&B Hotel - the hotel we stayed in. The room is quite decent though there is no sea view. But there is a 24-hr convenience store at its lobby which makes it quite convenient for us.

The weather at Haeundae over the weekend was pretty good. There was so much sunshine that I got myself burnt. However, it felt so much cooler in Haeundae than in Seoul. The sea breezes were cool and the sea water chilly. One good (or bad) thing about Haeundae Beach is that there is free wireless. I could access the Internet through my iPhone while lying on the beach. On Saturday morning when I was out at the beach, Haeundae was covered in morning mist. On witnessing the phenomenon, I suddenly realised why Haeundae is called Haeundae. "Haeun" (해운, 海雲) means 'sea cloud' and the morning mist was like some sort of 'sea cloud'.

Haeundae covered in a thin veil of morning mist. It really lives up to its name. "Hae-un" (해운, 海雲) means 'sea cloud' and the morning mist is like some sort of 'sea cloud'.

Getting to Haeundae from Seoul is pretty much straight forward and it also doesn't cost much. A short weekend getaway can cost as little as 160,000won (S$200) with everything included but of course there won't be KTX ride or stay at 5-star resort hotel. I don't know about others but I do think Haeundae is a good getaway from Seoul though there are beaches which are nearer to Seoul and are cheaper to get to.

Monday, June 29, 2009

해운대의 아침

Haeundae Beach at 5:39am - Sun has already risen. The tide was at its lowest level exposing a large span of beach. Temperature was a chilly 22degC.

Haeundae Beach at 6:24am - Ajumma was in joy when she saw a lot of fish swimming in shallow water. She signalled to me to have a look.

Haeundae Beach at 6:35am - Tide was rising slowly. Morning mist, like 'sea cloud', almost enveloped the whole of Haeundae.

Breakfast at 8:18am - Buffet breakfast at the cafe terrace in Paradise Hotel. The breakfast was slightly pricey but the ambience and view was good.

Friday, June 26, 2009

부산에 갈건데

Coming July, a 'mega tsunami' is going to going to hit 'Haeundae'. But before it releases it 'massive destructive force', I will be on a summer escape to Haeundae this weekend. Among others, I have made plan to visit the world's largest department store - Shinsegae Centum City and the world's largest musical fountain at Dadaepo Beach (다대포해수욕장, 多大浦海水浴場). I am also looking forward to spending an evening at Gwangalli Beach watching the beautiful Gwangan Bridge. It seems like Gwangan Bridge is not going to be spared when the 'tsunami' hit Busan this July. Anyway, I shall be back in Seoul just in time to catch the first Korea's disaster blockbuster in history.

Monday, June 22, 2009

돈은 "머니"라고 불러도 돼?

How do you say US dollar in Korean?
Answer: 달러

Then what is Australian dollar?
Answer: 호주 머니(money)

Do you know which is 아저씨's favourite money?
Answer: 아주머니

Then what about 할아버지?
Answer: 할머니

I was reminded of the money joke when I was listening to the news on the new Korean 50,000won note during lesson today. The news is about how the Korean society is gearing up for the arrival of the new note. While businesses are concocting sale ideas to make customers part with their 50,000won notes, the public are worried about having to give more for gift money during wedding ceremony and Seollal. The taxi ajeosshis are also concerned about the extra burden of keeping more smaller denomination change.

Anyway, the new note will be issued tomorrow. At long last, my wallet can get rid of its extra bulge. The era of lighter wallet has finally arrived in Korea.

마음으로 보는 세상

I am not a photographer. I don't know anything much about photography techniques. The only reason why I use a DSLR is because it gives better colour reproduction and not that I am interested in photography. I take pictures because I have a story to tell and not that I like it as a hobby. I am not a person who can write very well and so pictures are helpful in expressing my thought. If I am to describe the beauty of Korea in words, I would do a terrible job. Therefore, more often than not, I prefer to express my images of Korea's beauty through pictures.

The following three pictures are representative of those images that lie in my heart. The images are not meant to impress, they are just meant to be a part of the world that we live in.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

일요일 오후

Today afternoon was spent at a cafe in Myeongdong which is opened not too long ago. The cafe is owned by a Korean celebrity who need no further introduction. Tea.Us as the cafe is called, is located near to the exit of Myeongdong Station and right opposite Myeongdong's Caffè Pascucci. Besides tea, the cafe also sells gelato and coffee. Compared to other cafes, the drinks are generally about 500won more expensive but I guess that is the price to pay for bragging right. Other than the actor's pictures which are hung all over the shop, there are really nothing exceptional about the cafe. Personally, I prefer the cafe opposite.

You can't mistake the cafe for someone else. Not only are the celebrity's pictures hung up all over the cafe, they are also pasted on the wall of the stairs leading to the cafe's main door at 2nd level.

Sitting by the window will allow you to observe in comfort the weekend Myeongdong crowd below. At the rack in front, which is lit, there are "Tea.Us" T-shirts hung up or sale.

A small-size Iced Cafe Latte costs 5,300won but I don't think people who patronise the cafe, especially the Japanese tourists, would really mind the extra cost.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


The above picture of a flower bed was taken inside the Rose Garden located in the Seoul Grand Park. I think it looks like a painting. A group of painters was actually painting this flower bed when I was taking the picture. Just click the image to see a larger image (1280 x 800 resolution).

Just as forecasted, it was raining since early morning today. I stayed indoor and cooked ramen for lunch today. I think I have 'mastered' the method to a good bowl of ramen. Actually, it was my teacher who taught me the method. First, let the water boils. Then add the seasoning and let it boil for a few minutes before putting in the noodle. One very important point to note is never to stir the noodle while it is being cooked. My teacher said that stirring would cause the noodle to lose its texture or whatever. Simply put it, the noodle won't taste nice if it is being stirred. Frankly, I have been doing all the wrong things about ramen cooking until now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

흐린 날씨가 이어지다

The sky has been staying gloomy for the past few weeks. Perhaps that is a sign of monsoon season (장마절) approaching. If weather forecast has it right, the monsoon season is going to start this weekend and for the next one month, I can only expect either rain or overcast sky. And after that, I will probably be shouting "Hot Hot 뜨거 뜨거 Hot Hot" when the summer heat reaches its climax. It seems like the weather for the next 2 months will be anything but benign but whatever, life still goes on.

As for my daily routine, since being 'sent' to the College of Business Administration, I feel like I am attending lesson in another campus. I have stopped using the main gate to get into my campus and I do not eat my lunch at Cheongungwan's (靑雲館) canteen anymore. I am now using the side gate beside the College of Dentistry and for my lunch, I am having it at the canteen at HUFS which is just a short walk away. The meal is also quite cheap over there. The most expensive dish at HUFS is 2,200won and the cheapest 1,400won whereas the most expensive dish at Cheongungwan is 3,500won and the cheapest 2,500won.

View (from the Crown Hall) of the new College of BA, where I have my lesson. The weather isn't very cheery these days as shown by the picture. It is either cloudy or overcast sky.

View (from the Crown Hall) of the area behind the College of BA. HUFS is a short distance away. The food at HUFS's canteen is both cheap and good.

Apart from daily routine, my lesson has also seen some changes. Since there is no textbook this semester, we are instead trained to listen to news, read novel and write thesis. The 'real-world' Korean is what I am being taught now. The lesson should have been difficult but frankly speaking, the first week has been rather relaxing since I am not required to prepare for next day lesson. There is also no homework or presentation to do. Without textbook, I don't really know what I will be learning next week but I am still looking forward to lesson. Perhaps there may be some surprises awaiting.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


The red flowers above are known as Scarlet Poppy or 꽃양귀비. 양귀비 (楊貴妃) is also the name of one of the four ancient Chinese beauty. 이쁘지?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

여름 학기의 첫 날

My summer semester started today. My classroom is located inside the College of Business Administration which is a relatively new building. There are altogether 19 students in my class and that makes it a very big class.

For this semester, my class starts daily at 9am and ends at 12pm. Every day, there will be a different lecturer taking us for different topics. Tuesday is Korean Culture but all we did today was self-introduction.

All my classmates speak very fluent Korean and I am not trying to be polite here. I know I can't be comparing myself to them because most of them are either Korean language majors or have been studying the language full time for more than a year.

My oldest classmate is a 60 year old Japanese retiree who has been studying Korean for the past 10 years. I have full respect for people like him who persevere for so long in order to come so far. My horizon has broadened by being a small fish in a big pond.

Like before, I will do my best for this semester. Perhaps, my dream of a Masters in Korean Language may not seem so remote after this. I like the possibility which future presents but for now I shall focus on the present.

어렵다는 말은 다 거짓말이다. 여전히 난 할 수 있다. 난 잘 할 수 있다. 난 날 믿는다.

아시아 하나되다

A group of Japanese children, in bright red outfit, performing Japanese traditional dance by the side of the pond in Pyounghwa Plaza.

The sky has been quite gloomy recently with occasional showers that would set me scrambling for my umbrella in my bag. It seems like the monsoon season is arriving early this year though the usual period is in July. The hot and humid weather of summer is not really something that I like. But rain or shine, I shall enjoy myself this summer.

Last Sunday, while I was at the Pyounghwa (Peace) Plaza (opposite World Cup Stadium) for the 1st Asia Culture Festival, the sky broke a few times. To stay out of the rain, I ended up shopping at Homeplus inside the World Cup Stadium.

The festival wasn't any where near large-scale. Besides Korea (the organiser), it only attracted 10 other countries to set up cultural stalls at the Peace Park. The countries include Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed myself. Firstly, there were towel and drinks given away free. Then there were free performances with the highlight being the Asia Pop Concert.

I was extremely thrilled when the Korean singer, BMK, sang. Relatively unknown outside Korea, her powerful vocal was simply awesome (x3). Not many Korean singers can match her singing prowess and she sings like a Black singer.

A puddle of water after the afternoon shower.

Free sports towel with the word "One Asia" printed for all visitors.

Free 'unlimited' supply of "zero-calorie" drink.

Asia Pop Concert

The Korean hip-hop group "Dynamic Duo" (see below) opened the evening concert. I generally think that all Korean hip-hop groups are good regardless of what they are called. "Dynamic Duo" is no exception.

Next, came a Japanese band called "Moody Rudy" (see below). This band is not one of those mainstream bands that people are familiar with. They have a character of their own which is not easily copied. I shan't explain further because it doesn't really matter unless you have the chance to hear them out which can be quite enjoyable.

The next artiste is Raju Lama (see below) from Nepal. Apparently, he is a very famous singer back in his country. His name alone attracted hundred of Nepaleses to crowd the Pyounghwa Plaza. When he came on stage, his supporters jumped out of their seats and surged forward to the stage while others stood on their chairs and sang along with him loudly. When he left, his supporters also left leaving behind a lot of empty seats.

Next artiste was Gita Gutawa (see below) a 15-year old teenage singer from Indonesia. She doesn't look like a girl of her age and her voice can reach an incredible high pitch. It looks like she is all set for stardom in Indonesia.

Second from last was Kyla (see below) from Philippines. She is branded as the Philippines's R&B Princess and she does not disappoint with her sweet and melodious voice.

Last but not least, BMK (see below) from Korea came on stage for the finale. To hear her sing is a total pleasure. "실력파" (實力派) is an expression that best describes this Korean singer.

BMK singing "꽃피는 봄이 오면"

BMK brought on the concert's climax with her song "1234"

All artistes who performed for the day joined BMK for the finale.

Members of "Moody Rudy" having their share of fun during the finale.

"One Asia" is a lofty goal when even "One Nation" still remains a distant dream for some countries. Nevertheless, it is still good to dream big as it will give you a sense of mission. But when it comes to implementation, it is better to start small. Perhaps we can all start with "One Family".