Errands in Busan

June 13, 2007
Mood: Broke.

This day was kind of a mad rush and not particularly fun. But anyone who's travelled for a long time knows there are some days (laundry days, ticket-buying days, reservation-making days, visa-getting days, etc) that are just throw-away days. You have to get certain things done, and no matter how long you avoid it, the day will come when you have to spend an entire day just running around and probabaly spending more money than you're used to. My 3rd day in Korea was one of those days. I hadn't really planned the Korean trip, actually, and there were some things that just weren't gonna wait any longer. For instance, I had been carrying around a sign built into the frame of my bike since Tokyo. It was a sign a Japanese nonprofit made for me to promote Japanese doctors working in Afghanistan helping with people (particularly children) who lost limbs due to the war. Great cause. Totally useless and perhaps offensive in Korea (they might not appreciate me biking around with Japanese signs in their country). Also, I was about to stay at Scott's house for my 3rd night, and i felt like I shouldn't impose on him for longer than that. So I needed to find another host (many had offered, so i just needed to take one of them up on it). I also had to find a map, and figure out where to go next, and what to do there. The choices were many - Due West, North-West, North, or North-East. Each would mean a different kind of trip, and in some cases, a much longer or shorter trip. You may be surprised to hear that I actually had not researched Korea at all. I had spent all my time thinking about visa's, ferries, the city I was in at the moment, jobs, crazy girls, and where I could pitch a tent without getting mugged or peed on. I never had the time to fully research a whole country. It's a lot to get done in one day.

I also had to find markers and art supplies to make a new sign. I had spent some time with Scott and some other teachers at his school looking for lists of nonprofits in Korea. My original idea was to find nonprofits and either work for them, or link them together through a website which could recruit English-speaking volunteers. Sadly, the list of (seemingly ALL) the nonprofits in Korea that a teacher printed out for me were mostly professional and hobby clubs. Many were political clubs. I couldn't find any child welfare clubs or anything, and the list was hundreds of pages long! In talking with them, the consensus seemed to be that the government did enough to help the disenfranchised, and that NPOs just weren't really prevelant in Korea (very similar situation in Japan - most Japanese NPO work is done outside Japan). So I decided to just draw a map of Korea on my sign and put the route on it, so anyone who saw me would immediatly know what was going on (or at least where I was biking from/to). Finding art supplies turned out to be a much bigger chore than I expected - and that was AFTER I had to make an actual plan for biking through korea!

The high-tech subway system looks a lot like the one in Hong Kong

I planned and emailed CSers all morning in the Seattle's Best Coffee (free wi-fi), and then set out to get art supplies. Eventually by the end of the day I had planned a route, secured a host for the next day, made a schedule, bought a map of Korea, and made a new sign with a big, fat, South Korean flag prominently displayed on it. Everyone loved it.


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