On my way to Marubee!

When I wake up in the dark, creepy motel, it was already 11:30. I was afraid that I might have to pay something extra, especially because I had no money left at all. When I arrived at the lobby, I saw the male clerk sleeping on the ground. Should I just leave my key there? No, that would be too rude. I woke him up, and gave him my key. He took the key, and said nothing. I left the motel as fast as I could. I was now back at start. No money, nowhere to go. I followed the same routine as the day before. Search for a bank to withdraw cash and go inside an internet cafe to search for another place to stay. After I had done that, I decided to have lunch. I saw a small eating house where they were selling Tempura, but I was not sure whether that was something eaten in Korea normally or not. As a main dish, I pointed a picture that looked like a cup of noodles. The man nodded, and headed to the kitchen. When the noodles had arrived, I chose some tempura. The noodles seemed to be Japanese Udon. I had ordered a Japanese dish by mistake, while I had wanted to try something Korean!

Next, I took the subway to the station were the guesthouse I had found had to be. It was supposed to be called the Marubee house. It was also located at a coast, this time called the Haeundai. The guesthouse was located at the 8th floor of a tall building. I entered a room with 3 Korean guys. It was a bright, cozy room with a huge window. A brown striped cat was lying on the floor. From the window, there was a great view of the Haeundai beach. The guy who spoke the best English of the three, Joy, explained me the system of the guesthouse. There was one dormitory for men, and one for women. I was the only guest for the moment being. He showed me inside the dormitory. The blue double-deck beds made me think of the rooms of young children. I talked a bit with the guys there, and used the internet. Two Korean girls came in. New customers. So I wasn't the only one to stay here today!

Finally a nice place to stay in Pusan.

Guesthose for nobody!

August 31, 2011. Written in Hueundae, Korea.

Arrived in Pusan, I just starting walking into nowhere. But soon, I started to get worried. I hadn't the slightest idea of where I was going. I looked back at the harbour, and saw a white guy with a backpack like mine walking this way. I had seen him on the boat as well. I waited until he would come by, and asked him if he knew a cheap place for backpackers to stay. It was a German guy from Munich. While showing me his Lonely Planet, he gave me a too long and complicated explanation, so when he left I hadn't remembered anything of it at all. Ah well, I would go to an internet cafe and look something up. First though, I needed to search a bank, because I had no Korean money yet. I walked the streets randomly, and suddenly found a wide street full of banks. I tried two or three, but I couldn't use my card in any of them. I started to get a bit scared, but at the forth bank I was finally able to withdraw some money. I had no idea about the currency of the Korean Wong though, and just withdrew randomly. With no idea of how much it was worth, I took my money, and went outside again. I walked inside a convienence store called Mini Stop. The same store exists in Japan too. Like I noticed when I was in Seoul 5 years ago, the Korean convienence stores have Onigiri (rice-balls) like in Japan. I bought one, and gave the female clerk one of the bills I had just received at the bank. I walked outside again, and now headed towards the subway station I had passed before. In the front of the station, there was a man selling something that looked like Baby Castella (mini cakes). I wanted to buy some but couldn't see how much they cost. Ah heck, I just give the man one bill of thousand, that would be about the same price as the rice-ball I just had. The man took the money, and gave me a pack with 10 cakes in it. They were still hot. Inside was something that tasted like white bean paste, and it was remarkably good!
Allright, now I had to take the subway somewhere. But where would I go? The center of the city maybe, but were would that be? I looked at the subway map, and chose a random station, that had many transfers. I bought a train ticket, and got at the train. I noticed the fact that they sell Pocari Sweat (a Japanese sports drink) here, and saw two women have some. At the station I had chosen, many people left the train. Maybe, I had picked a good place to go out. I followed my fellow passengers to the exit, and when I got outside, I couldn't help but smile. I had done it! I had made it right into the center of the city.

Many people were on the streets. I passed a lot of restaurants, bars and stands were people were selling all kinds of food. I found an internet cafe quite soon, and headed in. I searched for a guesthouse to stay this night, and remembered the site of a Japanese man that had travelled around the world a few years ago (http://www.kakura.jp/hw/). On his site, he has a page of the guesthouses he has stayed in, and it also says wether he recommends them or not. In Pusan, it said, there was a guesthouse called "Guesthouse for you". It was supposed to be a very pleasant place run by a Korean family that would serve you bread in bed in the morning. It was cheap, and located at the beautiful Gwangalli coast. I looked up the subway station I had to go to, and headed there immediately. When I arrived there, I had no problems with finding the coast. A beautiful coast with many bright neon-signs advertising hotels, motels, bars and restaurants, and a huge bridge crossed over the sea. Along my way, I saw many restaurants that served raw fish and other fish dishes, which are famous in the neighborhood, for as far as I have seen on the internet. But "Guesthouse for you" I could not find. It had to be here somewhere. My bag started to feel heavier and heavier. I strolled until the end of the coast, and then went back again where I had started. I went into an internet cafe again to see if I could find a telephone number or some directions. I found both. First, I looked for a telephone cell and called the guesthouse.
"Yeh?" I heard a woman speak.
I asked her if I was calling the "Guesthouse for you".
She talked back in Korean.
I asked the same question again.
She hung up.
I started to get a bit worried about all of this. Did that "Guesthouse for you" still exist? That Japanese guy had visited the place in 2002. A lot changes in 9 years. Big chance that they had stopped running the place years ago. I tried to follow the directions I had found on the internet. But there was nothing there. Well, I guess I have to stay in one of those motels then, I thought, and tried to wander back to the beach. But somehow, I had lost my way. I looked for one of those big resort Hotels. I thought I had found one, but when I came there, I found out that it was just some building that had nothing to do with the Gwangalli coast at all.
When I finally made it back, I first went into one of the restaurants there. The menu was only in Korean, and the clerk didn't speak any English either. I just pointed some dish, but the clerk somehow explained me that they could not serve me that.
"You choose for me" I said. And I think that he had understood me.
The food was very good. All sorts of Korean dishes such as Kimuchi and flavored beansprouts were served at first. Some of the dishes I knew from Korean restaurants in Japan, but others I had never seen before. There was, for example, a dish with crushed ice and flavored nori(seawead) on top of it. It sounds crazy, but tasted very good. The main dish appeared to be fried oysters. Also very good, but maybe a bit too much of them. When I left the restaurant, all I had left to do was search for a place to stay, which had been a problem for the whole day. I stepped in a very old, cheap looking motel. It had a typically Asian, dark and creepy atmosphere. The female clerk spitted something black out of her mouth, and wrote the price of one night on a paper. I almost had enough, but came a bit short. I showed her all my money, and she nodded. She gave me the key, and pointed me were I had to go. It was now around 12 or 1 midnight time, I finally had a place to sleep.

Op de boot

August 29, 2011. Written in Pusan, South Korea.

Ik zit nu op de boot naar Pusan, Zuid Korea. Het verbaasde me hoe groot hij was. Bijna een cruise schip! Vanaf het dek heb je een mooi en behoorlijk hoog uitzicht. Ik had eens gehoord dat je vanaf de haven als het goed weer was soms Korea kon zien, maar dit was niet het geval terwijl het een erg heldere dag was. Op het dek werd ik door twee Japanse meisjes aangesproken, waarmee ik meteen in gesprek raakte. Het waren twee universiteitsstudenten uit Fukuoka. Het was de tweede keer dat ze met de boot naar Pusan gingen.

Ook binnen in de boot is er veel te doen. Er zijn wat spelletjeskasten, een karaokebox, massagestoelen, en zelfs een badhuis! In het bad zit kun je uitkijken op de zee.

Ik kwam later een van de Japanse meisjes weer tegen. De andere was zeeziek geworden. Zelf had ik daar absoluut geen last van. Ik merkte wel in het bad, dat het water soms wat in het rond spetterde.

Na zo'n 3 uur verstreken, kwam Pusan langzamerhand in zicht. Steeds meer mensen, die tot nu toe alleen maar in hun kamer hadden gelegen, kwamen nu beetje het dek op. Daarbij waren ook twee Koreaanse jongens, waar ik eerder op het dek een foto mee had gemaakt. Ik raakte met ze in een gesprek. Ze woonden in Seoul, en gingen vandaag nog terug. Ze waren 22, maar nu pas voor het eerst in het buitenland geweest. Als ik in Seoul was, moest ik bellen.

Eenmaal van de boot afgestapt, gaat alles zoals  het gaat op het vliegveld. Je loopt door een gang naar de douane, laat je paspoort zien, je bagage wordt gecheckt, en klaar. Klaar om op avontuur te gaan!


August 29, 2011. Written on the Japan sea






August 29, 2011. Written on the Japan sea







De tweede afvaller.

August 28, 2011. Written in Yamaguchi prefecture, Japan

De tweede afvaller.

Zoals een goed naar foto oplettende Nederlandse lezer ontdekt zou kunnen hebben, heb ik in Toyama van de vader van mijn oude gastgezin een nieuwe, echt goede rugzak gekregen. De rugzak (die zo rond was als een grote gehaktbal) die ik oorspronkelijk had meegenomen, heeft het dus nog geen drie dagen volgehouden, en is officieel de eerste afvaller van mijn reis. Nu was het niet echt de schuld van de rugzak zelf, omdat er niet echt iets mis met hem was. Hij was gewoon niet gemaakt voor dit soort reizen. Toch vind ik het jammer voor de arme rugzak, dat hij niet eens het buitenland gehaald heeft.

En nu na 4 dagen van vertrek, de tweede afvaller die het buitenland niet zou redden. Na in het internetcafe van Saijo (een wijk in Oost-Hiroshima) overnacht te hebben, vertrok ik ’s ochtends iets voor 10en, op weg naar het station van de wijk. Dit was echter, zoals ik me van de vorige nacht nog herinnerde, een wandeling van ongeveer 20 minuten. De trein die ik moest hebben vertrok al om 10 over 10. Wandelend, zou ik het dus niet meer redden.

Ik begon te rennen. Nu is dit nooit een probleem met mijn zandalen, maar om de een of andere reden struikelde ik er een paar keer bijna over. Ik kwam er toen achter dat de clog thong van mijn linkerzandaal stuk gegaan was. Ik had geen tijd om te stoppen, en rende door. Meerdere keren klapte mijn zandaal om, en bezeerde ik mijn tenen op het asfalt.

Precies om 10 over 10 kwam ik toch nog aan op het station, maar ik zag net de deuren van de trein dicht gaan voor mijn neus.

Mijn tenen zaten onder het bloed, maar pijn deed het niet. De zandalen die ik vorig jaar van mijn vader gekregen had, zitten nu ik dit zit te schrijven nog steeds aan mijn voeten. Tot Kyushu hebben ze het gehaald, maar Korea wordt een moeilijke zaak.

Tijd voor nieuwe zandalen.



















 August 27, 2011. Written in Saga prefecture, Japan.





実際に背負ってみると、いろいろな感動がそこにあった。前の鞄よりもずっとでかいのに、ちっとも重くない! 見た目も全然違う。今までは、ちょっと国内旅行に出た青二才にしか見えなかった僕が、急に本格的なバックパッカーに見えてきたではないか!





 August 27 2011. Written in Fukui prefecture, Japan










August 25, 2011. Written in Niigata prefecture, Japan


This morning, I finally started my long awaited travel around the world. Full of expectations I left my appartement this morning. However, it was raining so terribly that I got in a bad mood right form the start. Walking with the bag I packed the night before, I immediatly noticed that I had underestimated it’s weight. Man, was it a pain in the ass to have to walk around with that thing! I had to laugh about my plans to buy a bycicle somewhere and cycle to another city during my trip. It was most definetly impossible to cycle with that thing on your back!
When I finally arrived at the station, I first went to the local game store to use the tickets I have collected for more than one year with UFO catchers and get myself something. There was however, with the tickets I owned nothing I wanted or could use. I thought about giving up on using them. Who cares, I could use them when I come back to Japan one day.
But then, I studdenly heard some local primary school kids talk to each other. And what did I hear? Yes, they were talking about the tickets as well. They wish they had a 2nd price ticket, they said. And wouldn’t I have two of them. I looked at the kids. They were holding in their hands, exactly the tickets I wanted.
“Hey kids, how about trading your tickets with mine?” I started.
The kids looked with excited faces at me.
“Are you serious, sir?”
They started yelling happily. Now we all had wat we wanted.
After getting our gifts, we talked a bit. They were surprised by the fact that grown ups play games as well.
Great, still in my own town and communicating with the locals already, I thought. Not a bad start at all.

When I left the game store, it had stopped raining. My bag too, suddenly did not feel as heavy as it did before anymore. Maybe this world trip wasn’t so bad after all.
Alright then, let’s get going!


 August 25, 2011. Written in Nagano prefecture, Japan






    August 25, 2011.  Written in Saitama 






A friend and his father

August 8, 2011 Written in Tokyo

A friend and his father

I met an old friend during my visit to The Netherlands. We used to go to the same primary school, and lived in the same street as well.
Just like 15 years ago, my friend was still the intelligent, pleasant guy he used to be. He is now in his final year of his study of philosophy, and will start working soon. It is a strange thing to see the little guy who you used to play soccer with in the streets become a grown up with a job. It makes you realise how much time has passed since. Never again shall you be able to see that 7 year old kid, and that is a sad thing.
 I used to know his father as well. A person that defines something about my childhood, to say the least. When I heard the terrible news that he is now terribly ill, I first thought I could better not make a visit, but I was invited there with my family anyway. I entered his house I used to know so well with a complicated feeling. I was a bit scared. Scared to see how bad things were.  But the moment I entered the door, I felt that everything was as it always had been. The father of my friend was mentally completely fine, and the nice person I used to know as a child. Never did he show a sad face that day, and he even joined us at dinner with a happy smile on his face. It showed his strong personality, and how much he wanted to enjoy every second of life he has last. It was one of the most memorable dinners I have had in a long time.
All I can do is wish my friend and his family as much time possible with their fantastic father. I really hope I can see him again.



August 18, 2011 Written in Blaricum, The Netherlands














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