THE BUSAN BEAT ISSUE 1 SPRING 2018

Busan Beat (Issue One, Spring 2018
(download and click on the above link for the PDF version)

The Jeonpo Cafe Street and Antique Market Walk
On a typically crisp Pusan winter day in January, my friend and I took off from the Seomyeon subway station, and headed towards Hwamyeong San (Mountain), along Seo-Jeon Road.  (Please note that if you aren’t interested in the scenic route, you can always get off at Jenpo Station or the Busan International Finance Centre Stations on the Green Line #2).  Along the way, you can find the urban pipe markets, shoe cobblers, as well as motor-boating engine stores.  Quite an eclectic group of stores and markets for such a short jaunt.   Naturally, along this street, you can find several Korean restaurants and coffee shops, of course, in case you need a cappuccino or iced latte.  However, things take a turn for the better at the first right turn on the route, at NC Department Store.  This is the beginning of the famed Jeonpo Cafe Street.  This lane has several international and local restaurants, coffee shops, as well as a very interesting cultural center, further up on the right, which is for Pusan’s South East Asian community.  They have many events, such as Vietnamese Film Festivals.  Even the government buildings in this area are orange and yellow, which really gives life to this area.  There is a great vibe to this area, even in daylight hours.  A little further along, is a river.  There is a nice walkway up above/beside the river, so it’s well worth it.  Even though there was construction in the river (they were laying pipe), since the river had been dammed, there were still many migratory birds hanging about.  Originally, this was the main purpose of my walk, to walk from Seomyeon to Kwangali, along the river, but then I discovered something wonderful.  Well, wonderful to me, anyhow.  Maybe to someone else, it could look like a hoarder’s worst nightmare (or a hoarder’s paradise).  One block or so past the E-Mart on the same street is a store on the left that appears to the naked eye as a pure junk pile.  However, upon closer inspection, we discovered a treasure trove of antiques, ranging from 20 to 30 years old, to items that may well venture into the Japanese occupation era and beyond.  We found old records, souvenirs from the Philippines, phones from the 1970s, farming equipment that rightfully so, should be in a museum, ancient bells (I bought one), school uniforms from the 1950s, plaques and awards for individual people, and even American Civil War era replica guns. If you want to spruce up your apt., can’t think of what to get your significant other for an anniversary, or would like to give your family a cool ancient relic from Korea, this store is for you.  For the more entrepreneurial minded, come here, buy up all the goodies and sell them on E-Bay!  Like I wrote, it’s a gigantic mess, but well worth a visit.  We knew that if we kept walking straight along the river, we’d eventually hit the sea at Nampodong, which is not where I live, so we turned left, in order to follow the subway line.  We found a typical Korean market on this street, but the great thing was, is it also turned out to be an antique store market.  Across the street, had a tea store, but the tea pots they sold were ancient, as was a doll that may have dated from “the good old days”.  This store also had manufactured new items that looked old.  We kept walking and then found some portable AM/FM radio stores, and across the street, we found another antiques store, which was better organized.  There was a near life sized wooden statue of Elvis, Japanese tea containers (I bought that), Hakka Chinese wax paper umbrellas, ashtrays made of glass, Lotte Giants memorabilia from yesteryear, many paintings of various things, such as sailing boats, watches, instruments of torture, vacuum cleans and even kitchen appliances that your great grandmother used.  Then we kept on walking, and less than half a block away on the opposite side of the street, we found the coup des gras; the grand champion of antique stores in this area.  There were fully armoured knights’ outfits, racy paintings, arts and crafts of varying lengths, sizes, and girths, dolls, Choseun era swords, top hats, religious paraphernalia, currencies/coins, statues, pots and pans, lamps and bird’s cages.  There is also a Korean restaurant right next door, serving up cheap soups and bimbimbap.  Give it a try.  Tell them Michael sent you.

Bujeon Market through the Citizen’s Park to Children’s Park
Once again, you will get off at the Seomyeon Subway Station and walk North underground towards the next station on the orange line, Bujeon Station.  Along the way, you are going to encounter Adjama.  I use this term one onto itself. If you have been here for longer than a few months to a few years, you will understand, but for a newcomer, Adjama means a short curly haired gum smacking woman with the physical strength of an NFL linebacker or All Black’s rugby player, who always manages to find a solar-plex to rest their shoulder in.  Adjama, will, however, give you the shirt off her back, or an umbrella when it is raining, or a free shot of soju in a local market, so in essence, they are the sweetest Korean babushkas you’ll ever meet (not).  Okay, back to the point; you are walking in an underground mall devoted to Adjama.  Take your time; go over all the items; it’s a treasure trove of oddities, from wigs, to clothing that should only be worn by a clown, to seamstresses.  Once you make your way to Bujeon Station, get out at one of the exits on your left.  Meander through the Bujeon Market, which is, in my opinion, the largest and friendliest local market for Koreans in Busan.  If you are lucky, you may chance upon an older gentleman wearing red exercise clothes who ran in a marathon.  He sells sunglasses, but is really there to show you his laminated newspaper clipping from 1971 (or was in 1982?) about his run and 15 minutes of fame.  Once you are done exploring the market, which could take several hours, make your way down to the next subway station on the orange line, which is Yang-Jeon Station.  Hang a left up the next major intersection.  You’ll know if it’s the right one if you head under a bridge for a train about five minutes later.  Then you’ll chance upon the entrance to Busan Citizen’s Park.  It is the park of the future, because right now, it ain’t much.  There are little to few trees, but there are no scooters or cars, so it can be a good place to jog, walk or get away.  Sometimes there is art work, and at times, an underground museum, which seems to have unusual hours.  Just beyond yonder, is an E-Mart Traders (the Korean COSTCO), if you’d like to buy some groceries.  The one saving grace of this grandiose park is that at one time, it was a horse racing track during the Japanese Occupation era, and it used to be U.S. Army Base Hialeah.  You can see some reminents of this base in a museum and in some barracks.

For those of use that remember Pusan in the 1990s and early 2000s, take the exit out of the park where The D (Dallas) Club and The Legion used to be, and head north towards the Busan Grand Children’s Park.  Along the way, you’ll pass the Busan National Gugak Center.  Once you reach the end of the road, you’ll hit a small roundabout.  At the roundabout, turn right and you’ll be right inside the Pusan Grand Children’s Park.  The name can be a little deceiving, because you’ll see lots of seniors, and very few children.  There are multitudes of buildings where your children can learn things, such as transportation education, and there is a zoo there.  Last I heard, there was a liger (a tiger lion) mix.  There are funny looking status and paintings for children to look at, and the lake is okay, but the best part, in my opinion, is the walking and hiking.  If you head north, you can find the Guemjeong Mountain ridge trail, which you can take all the way to Pomosa Temple, which takes about four to six hours, depending on your level of fitness and how many times you stop. Enjoy this and the many walking tours of Pusan to come in the following issues of the Busan Beat!!

Bio: Michael is a Canadian English professor, but traveller and trekker at heart. He has been living and working in Asia since 1997, having called Pusan his home for six of those years. When he is not binge watching television or eating out with Taiwanese wife, Carol, he is hiking in the beautiful mountains of Pusan or visiting one of the local markets.

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THE BUSAN BEAT ISSUE 1 SPRING 2018

SIXTH PAGE AND MY BIO

 

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The 1970s. Man, what a trip.

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Who am I?  The traveler.

Mike’s first true foray into true travel writing.  As an expat, I’ve always been travel writing through emails to friends and family, or the occasional local magazine, but, what with long subway rides to and from work, and with the true desire to do this so since forever, I figure no better time than the present.

Today is actually not a long commute to and from work, but a short jaunt.  Anyhow, I digress.  Where to begin?  I’ve traveled to every country in South East Asia, every country in East Asia, except for North Korea (not counting the DMZ), and now making stabs at South Asia with Sri Lanka and the Maldives last summer and Nepal and India this summer.  I’m currently living in Korea for the third time since 1997, and have lived in Taiwan for six or seven years, twice, since 2000.  We, Taiwanese wife Carol, and I have lived together in Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Mongolia, as well.

Let us go back to the beginning. Since 1973, I’ve been looking for places to visit with Colleen (Mom) and Jim (Dad) and two years later, Erin (sister).  We started traveling in Ottawa, making short trips around Ontario to London Waterloo, Toronto, Port Stanley, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and other places I’m sure that I don’t remember.  We also used to visit (Great) Grandma Becky in Montreal from time to time, while picking up a smoked meat sandwich and bagel. We also visited Lak George, NY, but I barely remember that trip.  We also visited Florida in 1978, a trip I remember a lot about (yes, I do have a great memory).  Tampa Bay’s Bush Gardens, Disney World (Epcot Center was just being built), Alligator World, as well as visits with (Great) Auntie Dorothy and Uncle Morty, as well as Cousin (Auntie) Benita and Steve. We also went to Circus World, where Erin and I had our faces painted like sad clowns, that had tears streaming down our cheeks.  There are photos of these on slides, which we may one day see.  I also voluntarily had a snake draped across my neck (a poster was made). Later, back in Ontario, Canada, we also travelled to Silver Lake often with Uncle Sean and Sandra.  Once, we also visited Rob and Joy at their place in the woods, where I stepped on a nail.  Luckily, Joy was a nurse. We moved often in Ottawa, at least once every two to three years.dad

THE 1980’S: TRIPPY

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In 1980, we moved to Kirkland, a suburb of Montreal, Quebec. These are some of the trips we took in the early 1980s.

We visited the Laurentian Mountains often, as well as a cottage in 1981.  There, we shot at bats and frogs with Gary Ross, and of course, Uncle Sean visited, as he always did.  We spent that summer swimming in the lake and playing with the owner’s kids.

We visited Toronto in 1982 with Dad’s broken foot.  We went to the CN Tower, as well as Marineland and Canada’s Wonderland.

In 1985, we also stayed at a cottage, where more of the same ensued.  We also ate at Au Petit Poucet, where we had their signature ham. Otherwise, summer vacations and weekends were spent going to Ottawa to visit family.  I did not like having to move to Montreal, so the 1.5 hour trips to Ottawa were regarded as a highlight of my youth.  I also spent some great summers and winters with Brian Daly and brother Jason, building tree forts or going camping in Boy Scouts.  We had great times in the summer parks programs (easy going day camp), and many days talking about Star Wars or playing pitching machine.  In 1984, we won the championship game against a team we were never able to beat in the regular season. Brian’s mother, Victoria, was from Saint Vicent and Brian had visited when he was younger.   It’s always been a goal of mine to eventually visit.  Maybe this winter…  The other Jason, Jason Forbes,  also became a lifelong friend when we were 10. We met at a YMCA Saturday morning cooking class.   He eventually travelled somewhere, which would influence my life, which I’ll tell you about a little bit later.

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The Maritime Trip of 1984

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In 1984, we took at three week trip to the Maritime provinces. We drove though the first day, stopping in Maine, USA. At ten years old, hitting Maine was a major accomplishment. I only remember the restaurant for dinner, but it is a memory I will always cherish. We then drove the next day to Fundy’s Bay, but did not see Magnet Hill or the famous tides. I think we saw the longest covered bridge. Then next day, we drove to Halifax. We spent a few days there, where we saw the Blue Nose II, the boat on the back of the Canadian Dime (10¢). We saw Peggy’s cove, as well. We also spent a few days in Cape Breton. Then we took a ferry to Newfoundland. I made a friend on the ship. Dad took care of Mom, who had major seasickness, while Erin played games with a sort of “camp counselor”. I played games with him, too, when I was not fooling around with my friend. I remember going outside and throwing coins into the ocean. The waves were huge. Amazing that they let kids roam around freely like that. The 1980s was a different time. We visited St. John’s, the capital, which had Signal Hill, as well as deep fried breaded code tongue (delicious). After eating the cod tongue, I remember a drunk homeless guy telling us they the storefront maniquines we’re talking poorly about him. We also went to Bell Island to visit Nanny and Granddad’s old home. While waiting for the ferry, we looked at icebergs (in July), as well as fishermen cutting out the code tongues. They had also caught a shark that day by mistake, so there was a lot of commotion at the harbour. On the ferry ride over, we looked at more icebergs. once on the island, we found the front steps, as well as the foundation of the old family home. We stopped and asked a farmer if they knew where great-grandfather Stephen Fitzgerald’s home was. He said: “Yes, follow me”. We thought he was going to point to a road or give us directions. We followed him and he pointed down: “Right here”. We also visited a beach full of huge pebbles. When Granddad was younger, he had thrown these same rocks and one bounced off the ground and hit him on the head. Then we visited Uncle Mike. He was quite old and had these Coke bottle glasses. He was married to Nanny’s sister, who was actually in Ottawa, visiting with Nanny and Granddad. He was very friendly, shaking hands with Mom and Dad. Dad later said he smelled alcohol on his breath. I hope it was Screech. After Bell Ise, we went to Gander, where Mom had grown up. We visited her sister Gale’s grave with Auntie Joan, who was also visiting from Ottawa. We stayed at a hotel, but after having visited Mom’s Aunt, we got a phone call and her aunt insisted on us staying over, so we did. We played with cousins in the backyard, while the uncles made jokes. We had to deal with a bee hive, too. All of Mom’s cousins came over. It was a summer of dreams. Memories were made for a lifetime. I’m getting goosebumps thinking about how great those times were. After Gander, we drove to Gross Morn National Park, where we saw a decapitated seal on the beach one morning. The scenery was spectacular. We also played in a waterfall, where some teens were making fun of me for not jumping into the water bravely and that bothered Dad. We made our way back to Prince Edward Island (PEI), where we ate unlimited amounts of lobster in church basements, ate lots of Eastern Canadian potatoes, visited Anne of Green Gables, and also swam in the ocean, which had a red sand beach (actually, all the earth is red on PEI). I had been playing in the water (waves) with Erin and I didn’t tell her that I was going to the shore, so she came back frightened, telling Mom and Dad that I may have drowned. Then I appeared. It was quite distressing for Erin. I’ve always felt bad about. I wonder if she remembers? Well, Erin, if you do, I’m sorry for not telling you I had left the water and for frightening you.