Monday, November 8, 2010

Four seasons, one weekend

For anyone who loves the ocean, going to the beach, on a warm day with the sun on your face and sand between your toes, will cure any longing for another season, another time, or another place. When the bus dropped us off at Haeundae metro stop, we had no clue which way to turn to find our hostel, or the market it was in, or the beach. Usually, going with my gut leads me in the wrong direction, but this time it led me straight to a map of the city and toward the smell of the ocean. As soon as the ocean caught my attention, I no longer had any wish for fall. I simply enjoyed being a bit warm in my sweatshirt and occasionally cold enough to put on my scarf.

During the day Haeundae Beach held a magically warm pocket of air. It reminded me of summer and made me not even want to think about finding a good winter coat, but at night Busan fell into lower temperatures and my sweater, jacket, scarf combination did not even begin to protect me against this biting preview of what winter will bring. Not only did I get a taste of summer and winter this weekend, I also found fall and spring on my walk to the Busan Museum of Modern Art. While there was traffic on one side of the sidewalk, an unexpected green patch lined the other side. I saw flower buds and flowers in bloom and a bit further down the sidewalk, fall colors, leaves on the sidewalk, and wafts of the smell of fall interspersed with car exhaust and the crunch of leaves underfoot.

I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to see Busan for the first time, and the forty minute bus ride means I will be exploring the city a lot when I need a break from Ulsan. While I never imagined I would think a city of 1.5 million was small, I’m happy to have a slightly more cosmopolitan city as a break from what I have discovered is a quite small (in attitude and options), big (geographically and population wise) city.

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