Once upon a time on a Saturday morning, Faraaz and Aneesa awoke at 6:00 am (which is far too early for a Saturday), so that they could catch the 08:15 mysterious KTX bullet train to Busan, the “Durban of Korea”.
What, you may ask, awaited Aneesa and Faraaz when they walked outside??!! Cats and Dogs. Yes, cats and dogs were falling from the sky in the form of water. Disoriented by the downpour of H2O, the undeterred couple did not have fate on their side when they tried calling 4 times for a cab to take them to the train station with no luck. They tried hitch-hiking (no luck either) but eventually a random taxi came toward them amidst the sheets of rain and they were on their way.
Asan station was just a short jaunt from Aneesa’s apartment, and upon arrival, she whipped out the emailed confirmation at the KTX ticket booth to pick up the tickets that she (in her romantic planning’s) had reserved for them. After picking up the tickets, the excited couple went up to the platform to wait for their train.
The train to Hogwarts Busan finally arrived (right on time) and the couple boarded their romance vehicle (filled with Koreans).
Aneesa was swift and stole the window seat, while Faraaz humbly took the non-next-to-the-window-seat, all the while thinking, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”
Not surprisingly, Aneesa fell asleep (AND THEREFORE DIDN’T LOOK OUT THE WINDOW), while Faraaz strained his neck to the right to look out the window, in an attempt to be grateful for the Korean landscapes.
At one point, Faraaz took out his electronic paint brush (aka camera) and painted a beautiful picture of the excited couple on the KTX train.
A blink of an eye later (2 hours and 20 minutes), the young couple arrived at Busan station. Since becoming dwellers in Korea, Faraaz and Aneesa had by now, learned the underground ways of travel. They hopped on the orange line towards Nopo-dong, then transferred at Seomyeon to the green line towards Jangsan. Then FINALLY, in utter excitement, the happy couple broke forth from the underground tunnels at the Haeundae subway stop.
After twenty minutes the couple were fast becoming disillusioned with the area because motel rooms were ranging from 100,000 won to 150,000 won for one night. As they made their way to try the last one on the list, an old man reeking of alcohol approached them. He began to follow them and then direct them to a motel. They were unable to shake him off and allowed themselves to follow him to the Santa Fe Motel (5 minute walk from Haeundae beach). He entered the place, negotiated with the receptionist about something and then showed them to a room. The room was huge, neat and the bathroom had a large hot tub in it. Faraaz paid 80,000 won for the room while Aneesa lay on the big bed. As an added point of interest, Haeundae beach is the location for South Korea’s first big-budget disaster movie, appropriately entitled Haeundae, in which one can watch the entire city swallowed by a gargantuan tidal wave.
Hungry from their journey, Aneesa and Faraaz sought to fill their stomachs. They discovered that there were a million restaurants in the area, but they decided on the one that seemed closest to satisfying their African/Indian appetite: a Thai restaurant called Hello Thai. Yes, Aneesa and Faraaz, while in Korea, ate curry, at a Thai restaurant. This was a meal that best juxtaposed their oxymoronic situation. As they sat at their table, eating Thai food in this beautiful, if expensive restaurant, the couple was at last happy.
While dining, the couple’s friend Kerissa arrived in Haeundae and Faraaz was dispatched to collect her from the train station. And thus their twosome became a trio and they headed back to the motel together so Kerissa could check in and everyone could go to the beach together.
Though the rain had ceased, it was still a bit cloudy to really enjoy chilling on the beach; yet the three musketeers ventured bravely into the sea regardless. All was well until the rain started up again and Kerissa had to go collect the last arrival from the train station. So the couple decided to get out of the sea and skip happily along the beach. Faraaz and Aneesa decided to take a mild hike along the cliffs next to the beach promenade. They really enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Something about looking out onto the ocean during their walk reminded them of how small they were in the world, and yet how grateful they were to have each other in life’s journey.
After some happy snaps, Faraaz and Aneesa met with Kerissa and their new arrival (and old friend) Shardale. They hugged, greeted and decided that a visit to Busan Aquarium was in order. This mammoth aquarium exhibits 35,000 marine animals from around 250 species — including penguins, otters and piranha — that kept us happily roving around for hours. Here is a photo tour:
Now a foursome, they made their way back to Santa Fe for showers and changing of clothes (and naps in Kerissa’s case). Later, all parties were in agreement that dinner’s cuisine of choice would be Indian. Luckily there were an array of Indian establishments nearby and Aneesa settled on one called Namaste.
Walking down Namaste’s stairs takes patrons into one of Busan’s most aesthetically pleasing places to eat. Pictures fail to do it justice. The dining area is a smooth combination of hand carved wooden elephants the size of ponies, door sized carvings of scenes from the Bhagavad Gita adorn the walls, recessed bays feature statues of various sized deities, and decorating each table are candles. Bollywood music plays on a big screen television, enriching the atmosphere in a way that television rarely does.
As far as the food went, they all expected something sublimely delicious and their high expectations were not only met but also exceeded.
After a satisfying dinner filled with lamb, chicken, prawns, lassi and samosas, Shardale surprised Aneesa with a cute snowman ice-cream cake. The party of four dug into the cake eagerly and devoured most of it not-so-neatly:
After dinner, the foursome headed to Gwangalli Beach via subway so they could catch a sight of the impressive landmark, Gwangan Bridge. Aneesa had heard about this iconic bridge before but had never had the chance to visit before. Upon arrival, Faraaz reflected that where Haeundae is overshadowed by unsightly sky-scrapers and chain restaurants, Gwangalli has a far less oppressive stretch of trendy bars and restaurants that offer a great view of the beach. By day the bridge in the distance might be a bit of an eyesore, but at night it’s transformed by an ever-shifting light show. The purples and greens from the bridge mingled with the twinkling of stars and city lights while everyone oohed, aahed and snapped photos.
The group decided that to end off a good evening in the happening area near the motel, they would visit at least one bumping beach bar. They tried out the Wolfhound Bar but left quickly since it was empty. After strolling down the street toward the beach, they came across a little Mexican inspired place called the “Fuzzy Navel”. Here they sat, took some snaps and enjoyed their various juices, cocktails and shots.
The night ended with a long soak in the motel room Jacuzzi that helped wash away the aches of the long day.
For more pictures click here.