G-Star Journal: Final Day

Whoa-kay. As I write this, I’m exhausted. I was on the move literally all day long. I was still hoping to get in to see some more stuff at G-star, but that didn’t work out since I didn’t hear from our contact until very late in the day.

With G-Star sort of a bust, I started my day with a coastal walk. Not too far from my hotel is the historic APEC meeting site and a long wooden path leads you to it.

Gorgeous stuff, that.

Standing there looking out at the gray seas and black rocks, I felt like Anjin-San from James Clavell’s Shogun. Except that this isn’t Japan and I’m not Richard Chamberlain.

You're my hero, Anjin-san.

After the coastal stroll, I was determined to find some gifts for people and today turned out to be the most epic shopping trip I’ve ever embarked upon. Busan has easily, the biggest shopping district I have ever laid eyes on. After wasting some time walking around the Haeundae area where there’s nothing but high end stuff, I jumped on the subway again and went back to Jalgachi.

There I really got the full measure of that area’s shopping power. It’s impossible to convey to anyone who hasn’t been there, how almost absurd it is. Block after block of shops, restaurants, cafes, and in the middle of the street, cart after cart of vendors selling their wares – it would take a week to really see everything.

Clothes, housewares, trinkets, food, pickled mandrake - they have it all.

I was thrilled however, to find a store that sold Choo Choo the cat stuff – I’d been smitten with Choo Choo a few years ago when I saw things with her on them at Japantown. There though, everything was ridiculously overpriced. This shop I found enabled me to buy a bagful of stuff for around $30. Yay!

I heart you, Choo Choo!

And just when I thought there was no way there could be more shops and vendors, there’s an entire underground shopping area that stretches for blocks at Nampo. Geez!

The good news is, I found some great (and amusing) little gifts for the loved ones at home – all except for my sweetheart, Nick. I wanted something perfect for him – a funky sweater or T-shirt with a cool little character on it but there was nothing. In those five million stores, there was nothing!

The one thing I didn’t find I was fairly sure wouldn’t fit him since the sizes are pretty small here. Interesting thing – in some ways, it’s hard to tell which clothes are for men and which are for women. Many styles are kind of unisex. The sizes are small too, across the board. I don’t think I could get a pair of women’s pants from here on, even I put them on my arms.

Speaking of clothes…a few observations about the Korean people. I never saw anyone wearing sunglasses today which made me self-conscious wearing mine. Pop star Psy wears ‘em – is that something only pop stars are allowed to do? Btw, that guy is EVERYWHERE here. I’m not kidding. Signs, TV spots, socks…I must’ve heard “Gangnam Style” like, thirty times today.

Psy the Ubiquitous.

In addition to no sunglasses, I noticed the Korean population is heavy into the sports wear – like, the hiking and golfing clothes. Finally, in addition to being surrounded by porcelain-skinned beauties, I notice that everyone—man, woman and child—is really well dressed. I, in my baggy jeans, t-shirt and hiking shoes probably look like a prison inmate to them. Even people’s casual clothes are nicely put together. And guess what? Not once did I see anyone walking around in pajama bottoms and slippers like the increasingly large “people of Wal-Mart” population in the ‘States, which is a nice change.

Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed my time here. Although there’s no way in hell someone who looks like me can blend in, (I saw a total of three Westerners during eight hours of walking. THREE.) people were universally kind, or at least civil. (All except the woman in the pet store who nearly belted me for putting my finger out for a puppy to lick but that was my own fault. Overcome by cuteness, I’d forgotten how vulnerable puppies are to disease.)

So damn cute!!

This is crazy, but I’m actually going to miss this city. In some nutty way that makes no sense, I’ve already gotten used to my routine and feel kind of at home here. I guess it’s because despite the strangeness, so many things have made a good impression. From the delicious food to strangers who unbidden, did me a kindness, to the drunk-as-a-skunk old guy who yelled, “How are YOU? Very well!” at me in the street, I’ve had a spectacular time.

If I decide to stay, these people need feet--er...staff.

Now, to steel myself for the excruciating 22 hour trip back home tomorrow. =/
Guh. Maybe I should just forget it and apply for Korean citizenship.

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