Turkish Breeze at Pacific Ocean, Busan
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 16:03
DSC_1146As the conversation was going on our Turkish tea glasses were getting full consecutively. What can a Turk ask for apart from a Turkish tea and a chat after a tasty kebab? The Turks getting in and out, the evil eye stones on the wall and tiles... In spite of the occasional feeling that I was in Turkey every time I looked out through the windows the illuminated Korean signs were trying to remind me insistently where I was. Whilst we were having this dilemma Mehmet was keep going on telling. His story in South Korea was started with a Turkish restaurant opening during 2002 world cup finals. He hasn't been to Turkey last 2,5 years in his 8 years of South Korea life. He was both telling about the yearning to Turkish people and the smell of the thyme in his hometown's mountains. Homesick was in a small Turkish restaurant in a Pacific coast city of South Korea in this time...

DSC_1056I could never know that I would go to a city I heard the first time in 2002 world cup matches. The distance on the map used to make me have this feeling at that time. Whereas not Europe but South Korea is located in the middle of the world maps in here. This time I was not sure whether I am the one distant or is İstanbul far away from me. However the two cities Busan and İstanbul looks like far from each other, Busan was the most Turkey reminder city so far. Anyway everything started as soon as we stepped in the city. Rachel from South Korea hosted us during our stay in Busan. She used to live in İstanbul as an exchange student for several months. The time we arrived to the city she was working, she showed her trust by leaving the keys to us although we haven't met before. As we got in this typical Korean house by ourselves many things from Turkey welcomed us. The evil eye stone and a Turkish map on the wall, Turkish brand tea, Turkish tea glasses, and Turkish brand sunflower seeds were some of them... We talked about Turkey and South Korea, sometimes in a Turkish dinner sometimes in a Korean one.

Turkish people are fond of the sea. We ran into the sea ignoring the cold weather as we felt the ocean smell in the city. We watched the waves striking to the shore for hours in Haeundae beach. The sunlight behind the Gwangan Bridge got weaker soon and the lights of the bridge took its place. If we had a glass of Turkish tea I would say we were in Çengelköy or Vaniköy in İstanbul... The ocean means many kinds of sea foods. We wondered and spent a half day walking in the fish market. We were not expecting to see anchovy or bonito but we were surprised with the variety of sea foods that we have seen many of them the first time in our life. People can buy from these live sea products or some sellers can cook for them and give them the opportunity to have Soju (Korean alcholic drink) and fish.

DSC_1435One of the important point in Busan was UN memorial cemetery which was constructed for the memory of the soldiers died in the Korean war. A big area for Turkey is allocated in the cemetery where all names and ranks of soldiers are written in a seperate stone. Approximately there are 2500 tomb stones and 462 of them are Turkish soldiers. May be that is why all Koreans say "we are brothers" each time we meet them. There is a poem written for Turkish soldiers as well in this silent cemetery that is telling the feeling of this war.

DSC_1301In South Korea many people have Buddhist beliefs. 1300 years old Beomeosa temple constructed in Geunjeong mountain is still being used actively. Mostly this temple is deserted and silent. But the time we were there apparently it was not. According to the Koreans the reason is university entrance exams date is so close and the mothers come to temple for praying for their children. Some people bend down and up with the melody of the monk and some prefer to meditate herself. Trees had already the colours of the autumn, the weak lights of the sun is insufficient to heat. In order to watch the autumn and Pacific view from above we hiked 2 km from the temple to the top of the mountain. While we were going to the top Koreans were already coming down. In South Korea many older people have a hobby of hiking. The first time we saw those people we thought that they can climb up to Everest hill because they have enough hiking gears to success this. It was a bit tiring hike but it worths to see the scene. We watched the sunset from this view...

On our trip we sometimes meet with fellows from Turkey. Previously we met with Engin in Moscow and now we met with Serhan who envied Engin when we met him before. I hope more people get jealous with them and we meet more friends on the road.

Busan was our last point in South Korea. Now we are ready to move by ferry for a new country, language and culture...The destination is not far from here, it is just at the other side, Japan. Ahn nyoung haseo South Korea, we will miss you.
We Are Brothers, Seoul
Monday, 01 November 2010 17:00
DSC_0834Close your eyes... Imagine a city... where you can easily reach every place including airports, train and coach stations with subway, where you can use a card system to pay any kind of transportation fee including taxis, even to call someone. There are no security problems within the nice streets with beautiful lights, there are no police officers around. Citizens exercise or bike around the various parks in the city, technology is used to help them about anything. Everyone is polite and this comes because of their roots as a virtue. All the family can go to a soccer game including little kids, there are no security officers in the stadiums. Old people don't stay at home all the time. They put on their trekking gears and go out to hike in the mountains. Then imagine that this is the city to live... Seoul is the city to realize that this imagination can be true. Ok, there isn't a Bosphorus, it is very hard to find black tea, the food is not as good as Turkish food and soccer games are over-friendly but anyway this is a nice city to live....

DSC_0439Our train from Xian to Qingdao, the modern harbour city in northwest of China, was about to arrive but we were still sleeping. The 23 hours trip was quick, most probably since We got used to traveling. We were rubbing our eyes when we got off the train, there were a few hours to buy our tickets and eat something before getting on the ferry at 17:00. We came to International Ferry Terminal although it was hard to find it. The woman in the ticket office had a careful look at our passports and then called another man. They talked a little while and the man who can speak English told that they can't sell us tickets and advised us to go to South Korea via plane. The reason was the strictness of the South Korean border police and they were afraid that we would have to stay in the ferry if we are rejected to get in to South Korea. Because our Chinese visa was to expire and if we are rejected, we wouldn't be able to get into any of the two countries. We insisted that Turkish citizens don't require a visa to get into South Korea and we wouldn't be rejected. The discussion lasted about two hours. First the responsible manager and then upper manager joined the discussion. Everyone was looking at us again. Again there was a problem and the strangers were there. In the end we managed to but a ticket after signing a paper stating that we would pay any kind of transportation and fine fees in case we are rejected. We don't know if telling that we may complain the company to Turkish consulate affected them or not. The responsible manager was smiling and telling us that he hopes we won't see each other again while we were heading to the ferry. We noticed the damage on İsmail's passport at that moment, it must have been damaged during the discussions. Now, we had a reason to be rejected by South Korean police.

New Golden Bridge V, the ferry to take us to Incheon was actually a giant ship, it was used for both cargo and passenger transportation. We started to watch the sea from the deck after settling down to our beds which were in the rooms with 48 beds. We were the only foreigners except the Hungarian couple who teach English in Qingdao and are going to South Korea to renew their Chinese visa. After some hours people on board went to bed we were still walking around in the ship and watching the sea since we like being awake at nights. That must be the reason why we woke up and jumped off the bed when the ship was just about to arrive Incheon port. We went out to the deck and had a look around. Incheon was next to us with its high buildings and wide port. We headed to border controls after greeting the people in the ship joking to see them soon. It was time to see if we can get in to South Korea or we would go back to China.

DSC_0501İsmail completed the visa controls in a short time. I was next to the officer right after him. I was looking at the people in the lines after me while the officer was checking my passport. All Koreans were looking at me and smiling. They were the same people that were smiling to me during the border processes in Qingdao. It was weird to meet a backpacker here. There were no problems in the border controls. IT was a tough trip but we succeeded to strep into South Korea.

Korean peninsula was remained as Japan Colony for 35 years after Japanese invasion in 1910. Japan army was beaten by U.S.A and U.S.S.R. during 2nd World War and these two country had divided the peninsula into 2 equal pieces. The north parth above the 38th parallel was totally closed to any type of communication to the world but the communist authorities of U.S.S.R while the south part was supported by U.S.A and opened out to all the world both in economical and techological terms. The two countries which are not different than the other were born this way and headed to two opposite polars until now. The dictator regime in North Korea and military expenditures caused huge economical problems while South Korea became the 12th biggest economy in the world although it has less resources comparing to its brother in north. Nowadays South Korea has a colorful life with its modern and secure life, North Korea is a complete black box for most of the world.

DSC_0711Incheon is the 4th biggest city of South Kore. It's famous with its beaches and international airport which is in the middle of an island. And of course with the 24 kilometers bridge that connects the island to the land. We didn't want to spend so much time in Incheon and went to Seoul since we would spend a seperate day to explore Incheon. The population of Seoul is over 10.000.000. The city is full of joyful streets with lights and cheerful crowd. It is not very hard to realize the effect of U.S.A. The famous sport is baseball, there are 50.000 native speakers from U.S.A. to teach English and you can meet many coffee or fast food chains in the city. The modest people life of people in China is replaced with the western effect. Even in the subway people are always busy with their mobiles, playing games or watching television. But this doesn't mean that the people forgot about their roots. They are extremely helpful and polite. Such that if you stand with your backpack for just 10 seconds, someone comes and asks if you need help. They even grab the money in your hand to buy subway tickets for you. When you pass something to someone, it is taken by two hands and he/she greets by leaning, typical Korean greeting. Even 2-3 year old kids do the same. The littled kids in Seul are very cute, some of them wave hands and try to talk to us with the help of their parents although some of them scream and cry when we show interest.

The subway network in the city is really wide and nice. It consists of many lines and covers whole Seoul, even reaches Incheon. We mentioned in our previous posts about other cities but we should mention again. Both subways and intercity railway development level is parallel to that country's development level. I hope we can have the same level in Turkey in the future.

DSC_0931Visiting South Korea as a Turkish is a really unique experience. When we tell the people that we are from Turkey, they mostly respond us as "We are brothers" and call the other friends. All shake hands with us, give us hugs and even order drinks. Both Turkish support within United Nations during the Korean war after Second World War 2 and the colorful atmosphere during 2002 Football World Cup increased the level of sympathy against Turkey. We were even the guests of two young guys who were broadcasting Seoul Streets live via internet. We had a nice talk about our travel and Turkey.

The most colorful parts of Seoul are Hongdae where Hongik University exists, Itaewon where mostly foreigners live and looks like a city in Middle East instead of Seul and Gangnam with luxury, expensive streets. In these areas it is normal to see people selling dry cuttlefish or octopus in the middle of high buildings. Norebang which is also known as karaoke is the most favorite entertainment. We also experienced norebang after meeting two old guys. We asked their help to order some food and they joined us after learning that we are Turkish. After the dinner they invited us norebang by shouting "no-re-bang no-re-bang" It was an interesting experience to sing with two old guys. In South Korea, it is normal to go to a norebang club even after important business meetings. If you join a business meeting in Seoul someday, don't get surprised if you sing in the evening with the guy who had a serious meeting in the day.

DSC_0747The local food is also very generous South Korea. Most famous dishes are korean barbeque where you cook meat on your own table and eat it with leaves and kimchi which can be defined as spicy sauerkraut. Eating live octopus is also popular but it is out of our limits. Besides there are some Turkish restaurants in the city and you can even see one of your old friends with whom you played soccer in the same team before 16-17 years ago. The world is small, Karabük and Seoul are far far away but it was nice to meet an old friend there. We also met with Gurkan, the Turkish man cycling all around Asia. It seems the world is much smaller than we thought.

We are now heading to Busan, the second biggest city of South Korea located in southeast of the country. We are passing South Korea from up to down. Ismail is already asleep as always. Thanks to Alex who hosted us in a great way and her friends Jack and Hannah for their friendships. It was nice to spend time all together. And it is a good chance to greet my dear sister Özlem who is heading to Egypt after getting jealous and my dear brother Özkan who can't stop her and blames me. The trip is going on, Başka Türlü Bir Şey will keep writing on the roads...