From Frying Pan into the Fire?

Busan (South Korea) – 28 km (bike might just about berth, well the ship is …)
09 May 2016

“Vom Regen in die Traufe?”

 To be my best german-organised self, I booked my hotel in Seoul and Busan ahead. Seoul was the ‘Hanok-Experience’ and Busan …?

Well, when was the last time you checked the number of apps on your smart-phone?
I certainly have accumulated one after the other and ‘anal-ly’ organised them into folders. Prior to this trip I did a massive clean-out to create space on the iPhone for maps I wanted to download (backup to the Garmin Zumo). But Post clean-up I still had about half-a-dozen apps which searched world-wide for accommodation. One of them is Bookings.com.
I find it intuitive to use.

So I booked my Busan accommodation via Bookings.com and selected a Hotel in the mid-price range northern town with close Metro connection, Hotel OH. Being north of town would give me a relatively easy get-out-of-town run.
After my first Busan-Metro trip and getting my bearings coming out of the station I schlepped my bags, being close to exhaustion, towards my hotel. Getting close, I realised I found myself in the red-light district of town. Perhaps they are others, but most certainly this was one!

I always believed prostitution was illegal in Korea. Korea is a country, which still exercises a lot of censorship. For example, on the telly when Humphrey Bogart smokes a cigar aboard his Africa Queen, the actual cigar is pixelated!?? Same happens with cigarettes in other movies. Certain adult sides the Internet are blocked – so I was told. So Government control is alive and kicking. However, prostitution is illegal in many parts on this planet , though still exists and survives.

Naturally the special location of Hotel OH was NOT mentioned in the bookings.com info, neither in any feedback accessible in their app.
“Ok” I thought, no worries, all part of the adventure.

Hotel OH was difficult to find. It is in a sidestreet’s sidestreet.
Upon entering my room, ‘Boy-oh-Boy!’ … not only had I ended up in a red-light district, moreover I was staying in a ‘Love Hotel’ – a name coined in Korea for Hotel-space-by-the-hour. Still illegal, frowned upon, but tolerated. Apparently these hotels emerged when the Olympic Games came to Korea. My room had all kinds of printed love-schmaltz-words on the walls and ceilings! “I am yours forever” “I give you my body and my life” and similar corny phrases. Even the Hotel corridor had words on the walls. I half imagined the walls starting to groan. My room also had three ceiling mirrors, adorned with ‘lovely’ statements. Towels were of the small & white kind and at least 5 Kleenex Tissue boxes were strategically placed in the room. I also had an extra-large double bed (although I had booked this to ensure I fit on it – length-wise of course). So, petit moi in a love-hotel! … but my love is in Australia!? What to do??

IMG_2536

“Roll with it!” Go with it! was my self-talk response.
The all male staff were nice, helpful, although spoke very little English. It was one of the staff who pointed me to me the cab-driver eating-place literally ‘round the corner. So, I certainly cannot fail them. My Hotel OH room had no window, just a little hole in the wall, semi-blocked by an old air-con box. I could see no sky whatsoever but a little breeze got through and noises from lower floor rooms as well – what a stud!

I failed in trying to make clear to the staff that my room ought to be ‘refreshed’ daily. However this was impossible: no beds made, no coffee/tea restocked, no floor swiped – nada. Had to go down and gesticulate to get some tea bags. Still everybody remained friendly, but somewhat incapable to properly run this as what I would have expected from any hotel anywhere in terms of room upkeep.
Later, I hear that these Love Hotels attempt to change their image. Some are trying to attract ‘normal-staying’ customers. Well, good on them, but Hotel OH has a lot of work to do so.

I left after my four nights were over. Undeterred I again used bookins.com to secure another place, as the bike was still in transit but advised to arrive soon. Trying to learn from past experience I opted for a Hostel, Bexcon Hostel. I also selected one close to a Gwangali beach, so ze good life was only in walking distance and not 13 subway stations away. The information provided on the website sounded all positive, as the feedback did. The price was good, actually cheaper than OH. I was able to captured a ‘private room’ – meaning no dormitory and my own bathroom PLUS a room with a view onto the sea and Busan’s famous bridge: Gwangan Bridge. This is a remarkable structure. South Korea’s largest bridge, stretching 7.4 kms !! and traffic flows on two levels.

One level from west to east and the other into the opposite direction. The bridge is features a ever-changing light display set to music (which I never heard, but that could be age-related ;-).

However getting to my new abode from Hotel OH proofed a little difficult. Despite showing the full address in Korean print to my the cab-driver, he still had difficulties finding it. He also had a navigator in his car! Nevertheless, he still stopped and asked other people in the street for directions. My maps.me app finally guided us into the right part of town and after asking a few more people we found it!

Indeed the Bexco Hostel is a stone-throw from the shore.
Indeed my room had an uninterrupted view of the sea. All good.
Bexcon’s common room/kitchen is friendly, light, well-stocked and beams a good vibe. My host, Okseng Pil is a friendly-to-everybody middle-aged man, speaks several languages looks Japanese but assures me he is Korean. He goes out of his way to help you. Today he drove me to the Metro Station, which he figured was too far to walk. I guess it’s about <3kms away from the hostel.

BUT, But, but, but ,but …. there always is one, no Two ‘buts’ which weren’t mentioned in bookings.com … the property is surrounded on three sites by a life-fish market! Looks like almost a wholesale market, Asian-style: big containers with water splashing over filled with live fish, crustaceans, molluscs, sea-gurkens and what not. It appears as if restaurants get their supplies from here. You know, the places where you pick the life-fish from a tank onto your plate. Forellen Hof an der Unterschweinsteige, oder??

But wait there is more: the remaining border of the property, actually across a very slim lane, is an amusement park! FullSizeRender-1Throned in its middle is an age-old Viking ship swing. I also can see the throw-the-darts-onto-the-balloons stand, a dodgem car spot – all old-fashioned funfair stuff. Almost like a mini version of St. Kilda Luna Park, or even better a Rosebud summer holiday fairground.

So, I am nicely hemmed-in by fish & fun. No complaints though, as I am in a clean, fresh room, with great vista and a large window which I can actually open as well! I shall sleep tonight like a babe-in-arms.

Good night.

 

 

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