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Friday, February 5, 2010

My Trip to Busan, Korea

I went to Busan, Korea for an international CCC conference 2 years ago.

If you wonder why I only wrote about it now, memory stimulated by pictures perhaps or must be the weather. I went there in summer but I had to borrow a friend's thick coat because it felt like January in the Philippines.

Korea, with all its fresh air, uncrowded places, surprisingly organized garbage segregation system (papers, bottles, food, etc are separate groups) and strict traffic rules and regulations had just one downside i took notice of: no blue sky that it felt as though a storm was coming. What with the cold air and all.

Korean culture is very evident in the conference. Spicy vegetables (Bibimbap) for lunch; corn tea as beverage (that my roommates found me weird for liking it); lots of bows and Anyong Haseyo's, and of course the Pali-pali (hurry up!hurry up!) culture.

Because I made friends with Americans, I was forced to create a facebook account. At first, I couldn't see the point of having another online community account when I was well and good with friendster (which I don't use anymore today) but due to friends' relentless requests, I signed up for facebook in July, 2007, even before most of my friends knew such exists and that it is way better than the other one (sorry...).

There were about 16,000 of us from all over the world but none of us (as far as I'm concerned) had a problem with food or water shortage. There were just enough and more for every single person there. The subways were allowed for free use for us by the mayor of Busan (who spoke on the first night) and Korean civilians especially vendors watched curiously as about thousands of students of different color and language walked the streets nearby Hae Eun Dae Beach to one of the country’s biggest activity complexes: BEXCO. It is as probably thrice as big as Araneta Coliseum (correct me if I am wrong, though). And despite all the tedious, meticulous and laborious preparations: Hanbok Fashion Show, Parade of Nations, Korean Culture exhibits, hundreds of seminars that were up for the week, there was no report of a stampede, or a person lost.

Organized is an understatement. Every detail was carefully planned, including seminars that were translated to about 10 different languages and transmitted to local frequency bands in the area (though, I don’t think this is small detail); freebies, announcements and big things like plane tickets , bus rides (that were very comfortable as the bus rode smoothly along city roads without traffic jam, you wonder if there are any cars in Busan or the mayor stopped people from using them that week) and grouping people together in hotels.

Luckily, our group was housed in probably one of the best hotels available: Sea Cloud, a five star hotel that overlooks Hae Eun Dae Beach, one of those beaches situated in a city with lots of tourists and commercial gimmicks and where Busan Aquarium was located where we chanced to gaze at marine life with verbal and non-verbal wow's.

You could see fish you could have only seen in diving spots or in the movie, Finding Nemo or Jaws; penguins and seals and dugongs you could have watched eat live fish only in National Geographic, marine animals that emit light in water and giant jelly fish and octopus that will make you feel safe about the sign: For Your Eyes Only.

Watching those made me wonder what else I could see in the future and those I never will.

Memories in South Korea still fascinated me days after I arrived in Manila. Awed by their clean, efficient and organized systems, I secretly wished we would experience the same in the Philippines. But it was a Christian conference I went to and one of the things I learned there was the power of prayer. Korean Christians are known to pray a lot. Many great changes in their country have been brought about by the sincere cry of Christians to God.

I am not a Korean and I have my own way of praying but I sure know God listens to me. I decide I would not only wish, I would pray. With the power of prayer, who knows.

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