Steve and Sue arrived in Busan on Friday the twelfth. We took the car ferry and drove to the airport to meet them, and then we drove them to the Lotte Hotel where we were staying. Much to my surprise, they seemed wide awake and eager to spend some time chatting and having a quick glass of wine and a snack at one of the hotel bars.
Sunset from the car ferry on the way to Busan.
On Saturday we spent the day exploring the area near the Jalgachi Fish Market and the Busan Tower. The fish market was as slimy and squirmy as I had remembered, but the tower was a new and cool experience. You get a fantastic view of Busan from the top. Not that Busan is a particularly beautiful city, but the sheer mass of buildings, streets, traffic, and colorful signs makes it undeniably impressive. Saturday evening we all went to the ABS Korea Christmas party. The most amusing part of the evening was of course the karaoke contest. Keegan and several of his co-workers participated in the contest, representing the Geoje Island ABS employees. They dressed in drag and were all set to sing "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night. Unfortunately, the karaoke guy only had "Joy to the World" the Christmas carol. So, under pressure, they picked the song "It's Raining Men," which no one knew. It was unfortunate.
Keegan and co. sing karaoke at the ABS Christmas party.
Other highlights of the karaoke competition included the scantily clad women of the Busan office and the amazing falsetto of the lone Korean man who sang "What's Going On" by the Four Non-Blondes. Keegan fared much better in the beer-chugging competition, and for his pains he won a package of ginseng tea and some ginseng capsules, which led to some embarrassing comments to Steve and Sue about the ginseng-enhanced likelihood of a new grandchild.
On Sunday, we spent some more time in Busan. This time, we visited Beomeosa, a Buddhist monastery in the mountains to the north of the city.
Keegan, Ellen, Sue, and Steve at Beomeosa in Busan.
In the evening, we got together with Yoon's brother, Moon, whose apartment we had visited at Chuseok. He took us out to dinner at a really wonderful little restaurant out past Haeundae Beach. We ate some delicious Korean food, including some absolutely wonderful fish and some divine pureed pumpkin and potato dishes. There was more teasing about future grandchildren because we had some dried jujubes with us. Apparently there is a tradition that a bride's mother-in-law should throw a handful of jujubes toward the bride, and the bride should catch them in her shirt. The number of jujubes that are caught is predictive of the number of children she will have. So we laughed a lot and tried it out. I'm not sure how many I caught, so I'm just saying it was no more than two! Keegan and I have been invited to go hiking in the spring with Moon and our other dinner companion, Dr. Lee, and we are very excited about that.
Monday was a travel day back to Geoje Island. Taking the car ferry back was a bit of a headache since we had a little trouble finding the ferry terminal, trouble buying the tickets, and trouble parking in the tight spaces on the ferry. Let it suffice to say that the gestures of Korean officials directing traffic are often indecipherable, and this can lead to some frustration. But we made it onto the boat and back to Geoje in one piece, and next time, we'll be like old pros. We spent the afternoon unpacking and grocery shopping, and then we enjoyed a good old-fashioned Western dinner.