My backpack

Mini-Roller Coster on the road(Busan)

Ah finally, I arrived at Busan!! I could smell Busan wind now, fresh wind with the smell of the salt sea, and I could hear the sound of the waves far behind. I took a big breath and told myself like this. In fact, I was just kidding with myself. I smelled and heard nothing, but I believed man could enjoy himself alone as long as he knew this know-how. The solo journey started from here.

I saw Busan Tower in the view, so I could walk toward it directly without a map. Busan roads are up and down the hills(similar to roads near my house. I don’t like it at all. It’s tough to ride a bike). It took me about 25mn to reach the top of Busan Tower hill. But what a surprised, when I reached there, I saw no one but a few locals. Was it too early in the morning? I watched my time; it was nearly 11:00am. It was so peace and quite, and the weather was so cold. I walked down to the Yongdusan Park in front of it. There were many grandpas gathering and playing chess together. I thought they were more interesting than the stone tower behind me. I would have joined with them if I had known how to play. I found a seat nearby and read my guide book what to do next. A little bit later. few visitors started coming, but it was a time for me to leave because my stomach was singing. I went down toward a market. My guide book said there was a street food nearby, so I decided to go there. I love street food so much because it is delicious and cheap. We can choose this one, that one and then eat while walking. I was excited every time I thought about it, but finally, when I arrived here I couldn’t do it as I had planned. I didn’t know how to buy it. Oh no, I knew it was so easy, just sat down and pointed what we want to eat….and when ready, put it into the mouth. But I wasn’t brave to sit down. I didn’t dare to sit down at that street food. My lunch was ended up with a tasteless crispy rice.

It was about 2 when I left the markets. I wanted to go to Taejongdae cliff, but to go there, I had to take a bus 181 at Busan Station. I really didn’t know how to use a bus here. Everything was written in Korean. My guide book wrote it costed 600 won to go there by bus. While I waited for my bus, I saw most people use card when taking on it, and then I saw one boy holding 2 pieces of 1000 won note. He put them into the money box and then a lot of small coins came out. A little bit later my bus came. I stood at the back of the row. All the people used card except me using money. I put my 1000 won note in the money box, but change didn’t come out. I was surprised because my fare was only 600 won, but now I put 1000 won in it. A red face driver looked at the money box and turned to look at me with his big eyes. I was stuck there. I didn’t know what I should do. I thought maybe the machine failed to read my money. I wanted to tell him I already put money in it, but he wouldn’t understand me. Then, the bus driver said to me quietly, “Tho leave”. “To leave, what?” I was shocked. I already put money in it. He wanted me to get out of the bus. Why? I didn’t understand. Or I did sth wrong, or a foreigner couldn’t ride on this bus,…a lot of crazy ideas came to my head. He said again, ” To leave”. I had no idea. Maybe I had to leave. But before that I tried again I pull out one 1000 won note and showed him. I thought that maybe money machine didn’t read my money, so I could put it again. Suddenly, the driver nodded his head and raised 2 finger hand to me. Ah I understood him. He meant I had to put 2 notes in it. In fact, not ” to leave”, but ” Two leaves”. I was confused with his words. I got it. Thanks god…. I was relieved, I needn’t got out of the bus. I put another note in it, and then a lot of changes came out as what I saw a little boy had done it. The bus fare was 1200 won, different from what my guide book wrote.

As I was about to find a seat to sit, the bus started rolling its wheels aggressively. I could slide if I didn’t hold an iron bar on time. The bus here was terrible… It seemed as if I wasn’t riding on a bus but a roller coster on the road. The bus turned left, turned right sharply as if it had run alone in the street. It was much worse than the shaking ferry I took. I got a headache. I wouldn’t believe there are such buses in this world if I didn’t tried it. I wondered how the elderly took this crazy bus…

My guidebook said that it took about 1 hours from Busan Station to the Taejongdae cliff, a beautiful cliff by the sea. I watched my clock. It was already nearly 1 hour but so far, I hadn’t seen the sea yet. I felt the bus was running to the end of road because the bus which was packed with full of people, became only 3 including the driver. In such a situation, what would you do? Please tell me? Of course, I ran to another man and asked him by showing my guidebook… He said sth a lot to me with shaking his head and hands. I didn’t understand him, but sure I knew I was lost now… He pointed his finger far to another side…  The last stop now… and he had to get down. I wanted to follow him, but he raised his hand to stop me. He meant me to stay in the bus, and then he said loudly with the driver. I went to show the driver the cliff I wanted to go,… He nodded and pointed to the seat for me to sit down without speaking anything to me…… The bus started turning around and drove on the same road.

Ah god, I got it. I rode on the right bus but to opposite direction. The place I wanted to go was at the opposite of this bus route. Terribly, 1 hour trip became 3 hours, and in this horrible roller coster. Say no more!!

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Each Minute of His Trip Counted(Busan)

We ran to grab our food served in the ferry restaurant. There are a lot of kinds of Korean foods, cakes, and fruits. I smiled when seeing the Korean food. I loved it so much, but maybe from today on, I was gonna eat only Korean food(of course, Kimchi :)) during this trip or I could be fed up with it at the middle of the way, I guessed. I also missed my fruit. It seems like I had never eaten fruit before besides bananas(the cheapest ones I could buy).

I was eating dinner with Keiji while he said to me,” I’m gonna take more food.” “Oh Keiji, you needn’t bring a dish with you, you can take a new one there” I told him. “Heh, you’re so smart”, he said and smiled to me. In fact, it was just a usual custom we did during a buffet. I didn’t think I was smart to know such a doing(laugh). A little bit later, “Hot water runs out of”, he said to me again. ” But I just got it” I told him. ” I gonna take it for you”. In fact, he didn’t know how to get it. I started wondering how he had done during his previous times, since now it was his 3rd time in this ferry, but it made me feel stronger to believe he was like my father. They had a lot of similar points. I met a group of Korean people I met at the bus station again. They sat near my table. I smiled to one man (he is younger than Keiji and about in 40s) and then he smiled back to me. I saw he say sth with his group and then they all turned to look at me and smiled. He started talking to me in Japanese as soon as Keiji went to get this phone in the bedroom. “Is it delicious?”, he asked. “Yes, it’s tasty”, I replied. “He’s your friend?”, he referred to Keiji. “Right, he is my roommate.” I told him. And then, he showed me his finger swinging around his ear. It meant Keiji was funny(in the bad meaning). I smiled to him, but I totally didn’t agree with the idea. I thought Keiji was adorable, friendly and helpful. If he was to be funny, then it would be in a good meaning. In fact, South Korea and Japan used to have a bad history with each other, and that’s why some old people are hard to forget and hate each other. They always remember the terrible history.[….]

I loved my dinner so much…and one hour later there would be a dance and music show. I would love to wait for it with Keiji. The show was spectacular; I clapped my hands loudly although I understood nothing what DJ was saying(in Korean). It didn’t disturb me at anyhow. Most of the shows were performed by white people. I was watching them enthusiastically when I noticed that the performers and the waiters serving us the dinner were the same people. I started feeling different. Keiji told me that they might be from Russia. Actually, I thought they had talents, and they should have found a better job than this. I started looking at around my table. It seemed like they were performing in the air where people in this ferry preferred to sleep in the room rather to see their performance(although it is free). Sometimes things in this earth are strange and hard to believe. Some people who act crazily can be famous while some are not recognized although they have talent. “Life is not fair; get used to it”, that’s what Bill Gates’s said.

I enjoyed the show so much, but it was so short(maybe less than 1 hour). The beginning and the ending were so awesome. ” They’re gonna make it amazing at the start…and down…and then amazing again at the ending.”, Keiji had told me before the performance while showing me his moving-wave like hand. He was right!! It was as he said. It was 9:30, but we were so tired, so we returned to our beds. Keiji was sleeping with TV on. I didn’t notice it because I was reading a Korean conversation book. I got up to turn off TV and light. I also couldn’t keep my open anymore… I was in nowhere with him(zzZ).

The swaying ferry woke me in the early morning. I looked at my clock. It was at 5:25. Everything around me was swaying…even my head. I was gonna be sick if my head kept shaking like this, I thought. We must have been at the middle of Japan sea where waves were aggressive. It is to believe that Mongolian army ships were swept away during its invasion to Japan during Mongolian empire, and again Japan fighter ships were also swallowed during World War II at the same point. Japan Sea waves were violent. “It ‘s gonna be ok”, I tried to tell myself, and then I put my back again on the sheet.

It was about 8:30 when Keiji woke me again.” You’re alright?” ” You’re not sick?”, he asked me. I felt my head was still shaking. Yeah, the ferry was swaying…but not much. “I’m ok”, I told him. “I just had a good nice sleep and don’t want to get up”, I continued and smiled to him. “You’re gonna have a breakfast with me now?”, he asked. His face told me he was hungry. I made him wait for me. “Yeah”, I replied and went to the breakfast with him without washing my face, teeth…and of course, in my sleeping clothes. “You don’t eat much”, he said to me. In fact, I didn’t feel comfortable to sway with the ferry. It was my first time on the water and maybe I didn’t get used to it, I guessed. I just didn’t want to eat anything.

The ferry was approaching the Busan Terminal, so we queued up to get out of the ferry. We waited for a few minute when we could get out, and then suddenly I saw he run. Keiji ran in the crowd. He was too quick for me to catch up because I had a big backpack behind. He turned back looking at me, and then he kept running… I wouldn’t forget that face. He could have only 4 hours in Busan. The time was too short to enjoy the journey. It seemed like each minute of his journey was counted…3..2..1..0  he had to turn back and took a ferry back to Japan. I started realizing what a trip was meant. I had thought 4 hours spending abroad couldn’t be called a journey, but now he changed this concept. I was in the middle of a long line at immigration department where Keiji got out firstly. I felt so guilty to make him wait for me, to waste his time. It seemed it was no use. He ran to save his time and ended up waiting for me.

“Sorry, Keiji to make you wait for me”, I said to him. “Oh no, no, it’s ok”, he smiled and said. “I was quick, wasn’t I?” “Now we’re gonna go to Busan station”, he told me. We was walking so fast when I watched the Busan view around. I felt like, ” I did it!!”. Yesterday Japan, today South Korea. Every view coming into my eyes was different. I didn’t understand what was writing on the street… it was all written in Korean. We reached the station, and it was also a place where we had to separate our own way. Good bye, Keiji…and thank you for everything so far. I loved this journey along with you. From today on, I didn’t know whether I would be able to find a good accompanist like you.  I didn’t think I would always be lucky to find good friends during this trip.

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My First Night In The Old Small Titanic (Japan Sea)

Tonight I`d sleep in this ferry. My room was a 4-bed standard room (The cheapest one in the ferry I could find). I entered the room. It was just like a room of the hostel where we shared bed to each other. The room was small, and the gap of below and above beds was not high enough to sit in the bed without bowing. There was an old TV inside. I wondered who gonna be my roommates tonight. Just as I was thinking, there came a middle aged man. His name was Keiji. He was so friendly, I thought. He told me that it was his 4th time to sleep in this ferry. He introduced me where was the bathroom, toilet, where to put our valuable things when we go to the bath. It was just like we had known each other long long time ago although I just got to know him last minute. He said that I was his daughter age, but she was not smart like me. I smiled and thought myself. ” Is he admiring me? How can he know I am smart? We just met each other last moment. Or it is a the way he addresses the person he gets to know”. He told me that his daughter graduated and got a job, but because she didn’t like it, she stopped and now she entered a vocational school. I asked him of his daughter age. Surprisingly, he was right. I had the same age like her, but more than this, he and my father also had the same age, and they both got married at the same time. What a coincidence on earth!

” So you go to Busan for traveling?”, he started asking me. “Yes, I will go to Busan and then up to Seoul“, I answered him. “Your first time?” “Yes”, I replied to him. “That’s awesome. I really envy of you. I want to return back to a student like you and travel to abroad”, Keiji said to me. “Now I’m also on holiday”, he continued. “My company frequently has a holiday, and I searched very very cheap ticket here. Can you guess? It is just only 10,000¥(13o$) for return ticket including dinner and breakfast”, he said to me with a happy face. I love this face expression so much. It seemed like 80% of our conversation was his talking, but I really enjoyed this dialog. “But, this ticket is valid only for 2 nights 3days”, he continued. “What? for just only 2 nights 3 days? But we had to spend 2 nights in the ferry already?”, I asked him. ” Yeah, yes,… I can spend for only 3 or 4 hours in Busan, and the rest of the time is sleeping in this ferry.”, he told me. “Is it called a journey?”, I thought myself, but I could see his face answered me this doubt.

He told me that he wanted to go to Taiwan and Singapore. He had been to South Korea for many times, but it seemed like he never went to other countries beyond that. “You are still young, but you have been to many countries. What is your most favorite one?”, he asked me. “I don’t know. The most favorite one? Umm…. maybe Bangkok, Thailand“, I said to him. I didn’t know why I said Bangkok. Maybe that was because it was my first visit abroad, but I really enjoyed my time there so much. I hoped I could find that enjoyment again, but I’m not sure if I can get it although I go to Bangkok again.

“Akashikai Bridge, Akashikai Bridge, we are arriving Akashikai Bridge”, announcer said while we was talking. “Do you want to see it?”, Keiji asked. “Yes, of course”. It was really freezing outside, but I was wearing only one T-shirt and shorts. I kept smiling… while looking at Akashikai Bridge. ” I love this bridge so much. It is my 2nd time to see it.”, I said. Keiji looked at my face, and I continued, ” I went to Kobe 2 years ago with my friends during my summer holiday”. I showed my photo sitting in front of the bridge to him. “You want to take a photo with it again?”, Keiji said to me. “Yes, thanks”, ” I gonna take for you, too”…..

“Ah, it is freezing.” “Yes” “Now I’m so hungry”, Keiji said. “I love eating, you know… look, I bring food with me. You want it?”, he said smiling. ” No, thanks, I’m not hungry”, I replied (In fact, I’m starving much more than him, sign). He still gave me a pack of Senbei(Cookie), so I gave a candy back to him. ” I’m still hungry”, he said again. “But dinner is until 8:00. Now it is just 6:00”, I told him. I just said when suddenly a woman voice announced dinner had already been prepared. That was so fast than schedule . I didn’t know why, but we just didn’t care. You could imagine how we rushed to our dinner. “I gonna eat them all”, Keiji was kidding with me. “Me, too”, I smiled and said.

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Choosing (Osaka)

Tsūtenkaku, south side

Tsūtenkaku, south side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a tiring day, but I loved it so much. USJ made me feel I never did like other theme parks. I felt I was not lonely although I was alone again. I remembered I was so lonely when I had been to Disneyland alone. It seemed like I usually do something alone, go somewhere alone. Do you think I`m a strange person to be that? Since I was young, I usu do most of my tasks alone. Speaking in a good word, I have grown up to be independent, but actually, I don’t prefer it if I can find my accompany. I might be happier if my friends would like to join with me (I think).

It was 7:00 when I left USJ. The next step, I tried to find as cheap hostel as I could. In Osaka, it might not be difficult to find a cheap accommodation like other cities in Japan. Probably, Osaka is a busy city where there are a lot of travelers and backpackers in and out. My hostel was near Shinimamiya Station and Spa world was in front of it. I could see Tsutenkaku Tower from the street near my hostel. The view wasn’t bad, I though. I felt happiness every time I saw this beautiful tower. I love it much more than the famous Tokyo Tower. My hostel room was 1500Yen (19$) a night. The price was perfect. I couldn’t find a cheaper price than this (laughing). I stayed here for only one night because tomorrow I would leave to Busan (South Korea).

I chose to go to Busan by ferry rather than by plane. It was not because it was cheap, but I wanted my trip to become more different, more adventurous. I wanted to try every taste of life. My friends asked me why I wouldn’t go by plane, but I answered why we wouldn’t try a ferry. Actually, to travel between Japan and South Korea, the plane is the best option, since it is fast, cheap, and comfortable. But, what would you choose if you had 2 choices? Plane which was fast, comfortable or ferry which you never tried? I decided to choose ferry. It wasn’t cheap. It was nearly 200$ for 1 way, and we had to spend one night in it. That was fine to me, because I had a plenty of time for this journey^^. Let’s take on the ferry with me; I still didn’t know yet what wanna happens there? I heard that it was not comfortable at all on the ferry, we could be seasick… Let’s see if we are alright??

I waited for my bus to the ferry terminal in front of Cosmosquare Station in the morning. The sign said bus going there was from 12:45p.m, but now it was just only 11:00. Oh god, I couldn’t wait here for 2 hours. It was not far from here to the terminal, maybe it took 12mn walking, but I didn’t think it was a good idea because I had a big load behind. It was really heavy. It was my first time to backpack and to carry such a big bag. Did it look awesome? I waited for a while when suddenly there came a group of 4 Korean tourists. They were also waiting for a bus. Hah, then there must be bus running through here to the terminal … I needn’t walk. About 10mn, the bus actually came.

Wow, I was surprised to see my ferry. It needed repainting(hahaa..). It was completely different from the image on the website, but that was fine, since I wasn’t a person who demanded things much… Ah tonight I would sleep in this old ferry. My journey was just a beginning!!

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Same but Different (Tokyo)

I waited for my bus to the station as usual. I took the same bus running on the same road, but this time I felt as what I never did. Bus seemed to be so slow although it was on schedule. I wouldn’t tell you I kept looking at my watch most of the time. People passing by seemed to look at me again and again. They looked at my face and then at my big backpack behind… Hah, do you think everything was just my thought alone? In fact, I just took a strong notice on myself in the way I had never done, and then I thought as if everyone did it to me.

It was my fifth time I took a night bus, but this time I did it alone. I felt so uneasy as I waited for my bus to come. It was a really cold night at Shinjuku.

One man came on the bus and he looked at the seat beside me. He bowed as greeting to me, so I did it back to him. We didn’t speak anything to each other. I thought he looked like to one of my friends.

On The Way

It was showering outside with a cold wind, but the heater inside the bus overturned, I guess. It was not warm but hot. I could hear somebody murmured, “That’s so hot”. I also couldn’t stand with such a temperature. Imagine how you wear your clothes in the winter and get on the bus overheated. I was sweated everywhere although I took off my jacket. It was as if we had stayed under the sun in the summer. I couldn’t close my eyes. I couldn’t get into sleep. My head started hurting and my body was itchy.[…] One night had gone.

It was already morning when I opened my eyes again. I really had a bad night sleep on the bus. I heard my seat fellow prepared his luggage to take off at Kyoto Station. He left without saying a word of goodbye. I would be the same if I were him. People nowadays started being unfriendly, I guess. It is a tend of society. I also got this influence. People who meet me at the first sight may find I’m an unfriendly guy. I talk less, smile less, but in fact, I really want to show it out. I want to speak more and smile to ones in front of me. Change everything I had now.

I took off at 2 bus stations later at USJ. Right, my first vacation place was USJ (Universal Studio of Japan)

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Departure Time

I have been waiting for this day for 4 months with excitement, nervousness, and worry. Now here it comes, and I still feel the same. I really don’t know what I will do during this 1 month ahead, what will happen to me, but what I should do now is to believe I’m not wrong to choose to be alone. “You’re great. You’ll get a good experience in life”, some of my friends said to me while some, “That’s so lonely. I wouldn’t rather do it; Be careful, dude”, “But why do you decide to travel alone?”, there comes repeated questions from ones to ones.

“I don’t know… I have never ever had an idea about it even a little bit before”.

One day I went to the library. I found one book 深夜特急(Midnight Express) written by Sawaki Koutarou. This book is talking about his journey from New Delhi to London by Bus, but because during that time there was no direct plane from Japan to India, so he decided to go to Hong kong and traveled down to Southeast Asia, and then went up to India, Pakistan…. At the middle of the way, he just found that there were no reasons why he had to be there. But, he still kept continuing without turning back. I also didn’t understand why I kept following him until his final book, but as I read page by page of his moment, I felt I was traveling with him in fear and fervor.

One day while I was reading that book on the bus, one man said to me in surprising tone. I just found that he also read the book I was holding 5, 6 years ago. He told me that he followed Koutarou…. He decided to travel to East Asia and Southeast Asia alone. What’s an envy of him, I thought. “But why didn’t I try it myself?”, that came an idea. Koutarou could do it 30 years ago; another man also could make it, so it is also possible for me. Everything was by chance, but from tomorrow on, I will control this chance by myself. Hope I can find a safe way back home (But it will be ok, I believe. These days are safer than 30 years ago. Not only Koutarou but thousands of man and woman are doing this solo travel each day, and I hear they enjoy the same result!).

Bye, bye,… see you again next month, and I will write down of every moment I have during this trip.


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