Saturday, July 28, 2007

Another Busan Entry---now 24 hours behind!

I am now slightly more than 24 hours behind on chronicling my trip. The two related reasons for this is that my hosts have done such a good job keeping my schedule full with visiting the marvelous historical sights that any spare time I have left is devoted to, well, sleeping. Finally, I had to say that I really needed some rest (which made me feel old!). So, right now it’s about 4:30pm on Saturday in Bloomington. Here in Busan it is about 5:30am on Sunday morning. Last night we arrived back from a full day of sightseeing around 5pm and I made arrangements to eat dinner on my own and not meet Professor Kwon until noon today. Dinner on my own was supposed to be right after I had a much-needed nap. I woke up at 1am local time. Guess I was even more tired than I thought!

But, as I said, it is now 5:30 in the morning and, well, I didn’t have dinner. I’ll write a blog entry ( I think that I’ll keep it chronological; even though that means I’m still a day behind, I don’t want to miss chronicling anything of my trip) and then walk down from the campus guest house to find a place for breakfast.

So, right, let’s start there. I’ve changed where I’m staying from the beach-front Hotel Homers to the Kyungsung University Guest House. Here’s a picture of it.
It’s a huge building, really. Not quite as big as the IMU and is much more reminiscent of Campus View House or Tulip Tree on the IU campus. But it is newer. Plenty comfortable and certainly more affordable for my hosts than the Homer. And, it is likely that there were no more rooms even available at the Homer because over the weekend it is the destination beach for Koreans trying to beat the 87-degree heat with really high humidity. In fact, I’m sure that my touring around in it is one of the reasons I just lost steam last night.

Here’s a few pictures taken from my room on the 15th floor of the guest house. Beautiful Korean hills---which are everywhere. Also, in the second picture you can see the bridge which was right outside my room at the Homer.

So, what happened on my Friday? First, Professor Kwon and I toured an area of Busan called the Dalmaji Hill which is where many English-speaking foreigners live. Interestingly, the value of real-estate in Busan is opposite of what it is in the States: it costs less to live on the water than inland toward the mountains. Apparently this is due to havoc of the salty breezes and fog that blow in off the ocean every morning.

My understanding from the tourist signs is that Dalmaji translates as “moon-viewing” and here is a pagoda dedicated to doing just that (although, when we were there in the daytime it seemed dedicated to a couple families having picnics and older men hoping that the higher altitude would bring breezes to relieve the heat.

After this we had lunch at a delicious Italian restaurant overlooking the water. The place was called the Opera and I would recommend it if you ever find yourself in Busan.

The only drawback to the lunch was that the courses were slow in being served [every restaurant…even the Italian one…serves meals in multiple courses. I mean, like 6 or 7 courses. Not only does it take forever…but there is SO MUCH FOOD and it’s all delicious…that by the time you get to the 4th or 5th course you WANT them to take their time serving you the next course so that you can digest. They, of course, oblige.

So, we were later than we had hoped getting out of the restaurant and needed to proceed straight back to Kyungsung University for me to meet Professor Taik Sup Auh who was Professor Kwon’s dissertation advisor at Korea University. Professor Auh came down to see my talk, which was a very big honor.

The talk went fine. It was a basic primmer on psychophysiological methods and the audience was very interested. Even had some students ask questions, which I found out later is something that culturally they find very difficult to do since in the Korean classroom they only dutifully take notes on every word the professor says. [This is something I need to keep in mind in my own graduate classes when Korean students are in attendance.]

After the talk, Kwon, Auh and Soyung took me to sashimi dinner. Later, Soyung went home and the two gentlemen showed me a Korean night of wine drinking. Although I have a health condition where drinking is contra-indicated, and I had told my hosts that from the moment I accepted their invitation, it is such a part of the bonding/friendship building in this culture that I eventually relented this evening and had a little bit with dinner and at the bar we went to. Sacrifices for international relations.

Well, now I’m starving. I have to go find food…even if a convenience store is the only thing open at 6am. I’ll try to blog about my Saturday before the day is through. For now, let me leave you with a final picture. Although I have enjoyed my trip immensely, and found Korea to be a safe, friendly, interesting, and beautiful country…there are things about there culture that I would take a LONG time to get used to. For example, here’s a vending machine outside the bathrooms at Dalmaji Hill pagodoa:

Aneyong-hi gamseo.

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