Day One: Matsuyama – Busan
On Friday March 30, at exactly 3:45 pm, I literally danced my way out of the office, much to the amusement of my co-workers. I embarrassingly had to return 10 minutes later when I realized, in my excited haste, I had forgotten my phone. Regardless, I could not be brought down, as I was flying high on the anticipation of what I called “James & Rachel’s Spring Break 2012 Adventure to South Korea”. (It was appropriately named.)
We met up at 7:30 at Matsuyama JR station, which marked the official beginning of our trip. We had about an hour to spare before our bus to the ferry port, so what better way to start our vacation than with a few beers while waiting. We were too excited; we couldn’t wait to start celebrating. We caught the bus and off to the port we went! Our journey went exactly as planned and our motto was “God has blessed this trip!” (We came up with many mottos along the way.) We boarded our ferry with time to spare and despite the dreaded “Sunflower” ride – as our boat was named– it turned out to be okay… once we had a few more beers. Literally passing out on the ferry at God knows what time, we awoke to find everyone on the ship seemed to have already disembarked. Confused, I ran to the window to see what was going on. We appeared to be docked, so we gathered our things and stumbled to the exit. There seemed to be no problem, however, as the crew wished us a “good morning”. There seemed to be a few other passengers who had overslept as well, who were also wandering off. The time was 6:55 am on March 31st and it turned out the ferry had been docked for 2 hours. Oh well, we were in no rush. At this point we were in Kitakyushu on the island of Kyushu, far from our home of Ehime, but we still had a ways to go. We walked, bags in hand, to the station where we managed to catch the Shinkansen to Fukuoka. After riding the Shinkansen, and wandering around the wrong bus station for a while (before being given directions), we caught the bus to the Fukuoka International Port. Here we arrived in time to catch the mere 3 hour ferry (this time called “The Beetle”) to Busan! Woo!
The best part about this ferry was the fact that we could nap, and luckily we did because if one were ever going to feel sea-sick, it would happen on that boat. Fortunately I was feeling another type of “sickness”, which put me right to sleep and I managed to avoid any sea-sickness. “The Beetle” moves incredibly quickly and “only stops for whales” – as the introduction video informed us. (James claims he heard a whale while I was sleeping, however “The Beetle” must have avoided it as we kept on keeping on.) Three hours later we were pulling into Busan, South Korea, at approximately 1 pm.
THE BEETLE! (In case you couldn’t imagine what this ferry might have looked like.)
We were scheduled to meet Danica and Nick at 1:30 at a nearby subway station, and we could not have been more excited. We came out of the port, bags in hand, and started wandering into the city… or what we assumed was the city but was actually the wrong direction. If we had in fact turned left and not right we would have seen the subway station literally 50 meters from where we were standing and made it to our meeting place on time. Instead, we chose to go right, wander down the dead end street for about 15 minutes – we were convinced that we were “committed” at this point and if we kept going we would eventually come across something that wasn’t severed fish heads and men wish masks sitting creepily in the back of open vans… we were wrong. So, eventually (with a little help from some tunes on the ol’ iPhone) we mustered up the strength to return to where we started, and found the error in our ways. We hopped on the subway and headed to our meeting spot. Danica and Nick ended up running a little late themselves, so we put our bags in a locker and went to grab some food.
This pretty much sums up the first 24 hours of our journey, and since my day at work is almost done, and my hands tired of typing, I will save the rest for later.
Next up, the reunion of 3 residents (at one point or another) of 24 Union, my first night in a “minbak”, and the incredibly difficult journey to said “minbak” after Danica abandoned Nick and I at a convenience store without Nick’s phone or any idea where we were or where the “minbak” was. Thanks Danica.