1. CHERRY BLOSSOM ROAD
GIMHAE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, BUSAN.
My first day in South Korea, the desired place I always wanted to visit.
When I arrived at the international arriving hall, A korean guy with big spectacles waved at me recognizing me.
I went near him and stared at him with a smile.
That was my first time to see a Korean so close.His looks were so korean with puffy eyes, pale skin. He was not as tall as the Korean actors but of normal height and weight.
“Annyeonghaseyo bu-in, Welcome to Korea!” he said and continued , “I am your Guide Sungjin.Your car is waiting madam.” he showed me the way out.
I followed him and got into the car.
“As per schedule,We are now heading to Busan and you can rest in your hotel room Madam.I will give you the itineraries for your trip tomorrow.” He shared his contact details and a small guidebook with few frequently used Korean words and its translations in English.
Half an hour after,we entered the Hotel in Busan,
A place nearby the Haeundae beach. I then checked in my ocean view room in the fifth floor. Mr.Sungjin then said Goodbye after I checked in,“Take rest Maya ssi,We will meet tomorrow morning in the lobby for the first day trip to the simni road. ” He then left.
I went up to my Room accompanied by an employee who carried my baggage.He then left my things inside that vast room after getting his tip.
I closed the door and fell on the bed.I never looked around the room and the ocean view coz of the jet lag and the difference in time zone.
I fell asleep soon naturally.
I then received a wake up call from my family after two hours of sound sleep.
My family ensured that I reached Korea safely and confirmed about my secured stay in this new Foreign land.
I somehow convinced them and made them understand my safety regarding this trip.
When I hung up on them,My friends were on the line to keep me accompanied that night after my family.
I then talked with my friends and made a video call and showed them my vast room in Korea.
We talked for a while and ended the call. I then made a call from the intercom and ordered my dinner.
Meanwhile, I looked around the room and the ocean through my glass window and walked outside the corridor.
Later when my doorbell rang, I came in and took my Dinner, a sandwich and a coffee.
I surfed around the web about the Simni road I am about to visit tomorrow.
The Pictures of the Simni road,The Cherry blossom road took my breath.
I wondered and imagined how it will be to see them for real!
I waited for this night to end soon to enjoy the view of the beautiful pink blossom trees next day.
I fell asleep after a while in the couch.
First day of the trip.
In South Korea. To the Awesome Cherry Blossom Road.
I Woke up and took bath and dressed up in my black trousers with a grey T-shirt and a Light jacket.
I got a text from my Guide Mr.Sungjin that he arrived at the hotel and waiting for me in the lobby.
I then moved out of my room with the itinerary guide and my handbag.
I entered the lift and moved down to the ground floor.
Mr.Sungjin waved at me and he approached me.
“Annyeonghaseyo Maya Ssi!” he smiled.
‘Hello, Mr.Sungjin!’ I smiled back.
“Shall we start to the Simni road Madam! The Vehicle is waiting,” he said and walked me to the entrance.
We then started to the Simni road from Haeundae-gu, Busan.
After an hour, we reached the Cherry blossom road.
The sight of those pinkish blooms all over wanted me to get down the vehicle and feel it.
I made my guide to stop by and I walked.
Walking along the road with full bloomed cherry blossoms all over excited me.
The scent and the view of the pink flowers made my heart flutter.
Ssanggyesa Temple, Simni Cherry Blossom Road.
For a foreigner like me,the beautiful view was much easier to encapture in my heart than the long name.
Despite being a die hard fan of K-dramas, I still felt alien to Korean language.
The Cherry blossoms made me feel better from such a heartbreak, a failure.
I hoped I would get lively again seeing those pink flowers.
I stood over and enjoyed the view.
To my surprise,there was a petal wavering in the air which caught my eye.
I wanted to grab it,as if grabbing it meant getting my lively life back.
I wanted to grab it so desperately that I moved back and forth to own it all by myself.
I jumped and moved like a kid going after a kite.
Finally,I got a hold of it and bumped someone from behind making him to fall down.
“Jjinja? neo u dangyeleul bol su eobs-eo? He said.
’What? Are you scolding me? I asked.
“I said to watch your step! ” he sighed and picked up the hat that fell down from his head.
I was a bit wilder to get a hold of my life, I didn’t realize I would bump someone!
‘ I am sorry, I was a little out of control. Here let me help you. ’ I gave him a hand and walked him to the side.
He was a tall guy with younger look.
But I felt like we were of the same age group. His eyes were sharp and brown in colour. His hairdo looked cool like those korean celebrities style but with natural black hair.
He then kept wearing a hat whenever the local people appeared, hiding his face. He looked totally handsome like a Korean hero.
His face was red in anger,but with calm voice he said “Be careful with your actions,there are people walking around.Watch out before moving around like that again.”
’If it were me,I would’ve yelled at you.
Sorry and Thank you.I just wanted to have that beautiful petal all for myself as if it was my life. I was blinded by that thought. But you made me realize what life should be.’ I smiled at him.
In a shock he said,”You must be crazy! Talking philosophy from nowhere.”
’I was lost by the sight of these beautiful petals falling off.I got off track and was finding my way to my guide and ended up like this!
“Are you a child to get lost in a foreign country? Come on, I’ll help you find him,” he said.
We searched for the guide all along the road.
“Your guide must be insane.How come he left you alone in a new place, A Foreign country? And a tourist who has no knowledge of the local language? Very irresponsible to be a Guide. ” He said.
‘Oh it’s not his fault! I wanted to have a closer look at these beautiful flowers.So I asked him to stop me by to feel the scent and its beauty.’ I replied.
“But you are lost and now you don’t know where to go and how right?” he exclaimed.
’Ah, He told me to walk over to the ssangyesa temple which is just half a km from here!
I thought of leaving soon but that petal bothered me and you..! ′ I pouted my lips.
“No wonder ! It’s such a beautiful view that none will have heart to leave this place. I understand your feelings.” He glanced at me and his eyes sparkling.
‘And that’s why I had to get down and wanted to have a look at it !’ I agreed nodding my head. “Hmm..So where are you from actually?” he looked at me.
‘Well, I am from India!’ I replied.
“India?” he excited.
‘Yes...’ I said in a proud voice.
“Wow ! The place that is related to our Queen. I am so honored to meet you!” he said.
‘Oh yeah! My pleasure! ’ I smiled.
He kept glancing at me.
“Oh...Why is this place filled with so many cherry trees?Is there any meaning ? Any history about this place?” I questioned him to avoid his glance and looked at the trees.
“Well, Maybe the place is full of them? I dont know how?” he shrugged.
“But there is a legend that couple walking down this road holding hands together will be together for 100 years.
We call this path as Hollae-gil meaning wedding road." he added.
‘Really?’ I wondered.
We then kept walking the road silent.
“Here we are!“he said.
We ended up in the ssanggyesa temple.
’Ah! There he is! We finally found him.’I screamed with joy pointing at my Guide.
We went to him,they both talked something in Korean.
Then he waved Goodbye to us.
We’ve also decided to go back to the hotel and rest.
After an hour long journey,I wanted to rest well.
But I made a video call to India and shared my first day experiences with my family and then my friends. I then hung up and took the travel map to check the other places.
I suddenly was reminded by that korean guy.
‘What was his Name actually? Did I even ask him?’
We’ve talked all the way to ssangyesa temple but I never asked about him and his whereabouts?
’He was cool and nice.
It felt good to be with him.
Maybe I should ask about him the next time!′ I talked to myself.
‘Will I meet him again?’
’I dont think so!
Why do I wanna meet him? Let’s sleep now.′ I said and fell over my bed.
Despite being in a new place for the first time,far away from my nest all alone I slept well.
After all,it was a trip to get a new life after that heart ache.
A beautiful dream showering the pink flowers excited me even more.
The next day trip,
A full day Busan tour must be excitement filled as explained by my guide.
I started imagining about the next day tour and slept.
When I woke up it was warm and bright. I had a quick shower and got ready.
I was too excited and waited in the lobby for my guide.
He then came to me and we both had our breakfast in the Restaurant.
We ordered our food,viz., A breakfast sandwich for me and my guide had some soups and stews.
We then took a stroll down the road.
’The familiar scent which always excited me…Ah!There they are! ’I jumped with joy.
I saw those beautiful cherry blossoms falling off from the tree alongside the hotel.
‘I love this place,those petals make my heart flutter. I feel so excited.’ I smiled bright talking to myself. “There you are. Excited again like a kid, you better not bump into others and make them fall again,” said that voice.
I turned to look for that person.
’Oh my gosh,You....!′
‘You’re that guy from cherry blossom road,right? We meet again,huh?’ I waved at him with a bright surprised smile.
He waved back and came near asking ”I’ve never seen someone so excited everytime for the same thing.”
‘For a kid, hearing stories and imagining them is the most exciting one. Even if its the same story. I am that kid,’ I winked at him.
“You are different,” he said looking at my eyes.
‘Whoa! What’s with this staring?’ I talked to self , ‘Why do I feel this adrenaline rush?’ I wondered locking my eyes with his.
“What?” he asked.
‘Nothing!’ I looked away.
There was utter silence for a while.
He then started talking with my guide and walked along with us.
I accompanied them while they were conversing seriously in their language.
I couldn’t get to hear anything as I had no idea about the language even after watching so many korean movies and dramas.
He talked with the Korean guy and introduced me to him.
“Maya ssi, This is Mr.Park and he will guide you. I am sorry I had to leave like this. Something urgent came up.” He said.
“So... Maya it is!” he interrupted.
‘Hello, Mr.Park it is?’ I smiled at him.
“Hi..” he smiled back.
I gestured Mr.Park to be quiet and looked for Mr.Sungjin.
My guide disappeared suddenly.
“Shall we?” asked Park.
‘What’s happening here and why would you be my guide?’ I asked with loud voice.
‘I think I should talk with the travel company of yours! ’
“Maya Ssi! You need to calm down.It was an emergency situation.Please understand.He felt that you will be comfortable with me rather than being with some other as we’ve met already! It’s a simple thing that I can do for him.” His face serious.
“I am sorry! What’s with this emergency situation? Is everything alright?” my voice curious and concerned.
“You don’t wanna hear it!” he zipped his mouth seriously.
‘Huh!’ I pouted.
And so we had to walk together to the beach nearby without talking .
I tried to start the conversation to break that awkward silence ,
’So, You are a Guide?’I looked at him.
He gasped at me.
‘How come you talk English so well?’ I questioned again.
“Well, I was brought up in Canada, So! ” he stopped.
‘Ah, Cool.You were brought up in a Foreign country! But why would you be working here as a Guide in Korea?Why did you come back here?’
“This is my Country and I always wanted to be here! ” his voice proud.
″Huh! Good.′ I smiled.
We then walked in utter silence in the streets.
He must have suddenly craved for the delicious Korean street foods.
He kept looking for something in the food street.
“Shall we eat something? Try some street foods?” he asked me.
‘Oh! Yeah sure.’ I nodded.
He finally found a place to eat.
We both then found a table and waited.
He asked if I eat fish and spicy food and ordered something.
I wanted to try different cuisines and was more excited to taste it, the typical Korean foods I used to watch in the Korean series.
And the dish came. It was a large pan full of hot red sauce with some white finger sized rolls.
‘What’s this dish called?’ I asked him taking a picture of the food in my phone.
"tteokbokki..” he said in an exciting voice.
Startled by his expression, ‘Are you eating this for the first time?’ I looked at him with suspicion.
“Oh yes..!” his eyes sparkled with his mouth watering at the sight of the food.
′ What? But it’s your famous street food and you are eating it for the first time? I am taken aback.′ I said in wonder.
“Well, I can’t eat spicy foods.I craved long for this dish.Today I can eat it and enjoy it!,” he said in an amused voice.
‘Will you be alright after eating it?’ I glared at him.
He looked at me without blinking.
I felt a hunch.
He started eating without saying a word.
I had to join him,so I started eating with him.
‘Gosh...I knew it from that expression of yours. I felt it...’ I yelled at him.
My eyes red and ears fuming with the spiciness. ‘Man! It’s super spicy. I cant eat more.’ I said drinking water.
He kept eating despite the spiciness and the tears that fell from his reddened eyes.
He then had soju,a drink made from rice wine.
He gave me a shot to try saying, “It’s the best combo! you must try....tteokbokki with soju!"
I had a sip and coughed up.
It felt different in my throat and I refused.
We then paid for the spicy tteokbokki and left.
We started walking down the road to the Haeundae beach.
THE HAEUNDAE BEACH.
The beach was crowded with lot of foreign tourists and its own people.
The beach was a different place with many things to do.
“How about the sea sports? Do you know swimming? Let’s get into the waters..” he asked.
‘Um..Nope.I hate getting drenched. Also we just ate snacks.I will throw up!’ I refused.
“Fine.” he said with tight lips.
We walked then together.
“Let’s go check your favourite blossoms then..and also there are art galleries in the coffee shops.” he said with bright eyes.
’Let’s go ,I’ve always wanted to see art galleries here, gaja!′ I said and walked.
“Nice.You know Korean?” his voice surprised.
‘Hahaaa..Not at all.I just know few words like gaja, annheonghaseyo and kamsahmnida!’
“Whoa! Those words are more than enough to roam around here!” he pouted and showed thumbs up. ‘Nandri !’ I smiled.
‘I said Thank you !’
“There it is,let’s check it out.” he took me to the art gallery and let me in first.
The space was large, showcasing arts by influential artists.
There were paintings, sculptures and photographs.
They were also selling art gifts.The place was calm and relaxing to walk around.
We walked all over and had a look at the arts and stopped by the cafe inside the Art Museum.
After having the coffee, we came outside to the beach.
“You like Arts?” he asked.
‘Yes, They make my heart feel warm and calms my mind.I just admire the beauty of it.’ I shook my shoulders.
He glared while walking.
I raised my brows gesturing ″What″
He shook his head Nothing.
We then took a taxi to the BIFF Square and reached in some twenty minutes.
We walked to the BIFF Square in Nampo-dong and the cinema street.
The street was displayed with many Korean film posters.
“And it is BIFF Square, a cultural tourist place.The BIFF Square Ground Opening is held on this street. During this ceremony, hand printing of the movies celebrities take place.” he said and showed me the hands imprinted on the street.
We walked along the street looking at those hand prints.
We had few Korean street foods.
Park bought some pancakes and gave me,“It’s the yummy ssiat hotteok ! Try it.”
‘Whoa! It’s sweet.Nice and so addictive.’ I licked my fingers and had two more of it, a sweet pancake stuffed with toasted seeds , peanuts and sugar.
We then took a short walk to the jagalchi market.The place full of marine creatures.
“It’s a market for fresh seafood to takeaway or eat at the informal stalls.They sell raw,cooked, dried seafoods here.” said Park.
“You can find plenty of restaurants to try seafoods.”
We looked around the market and the sea creatures.
Park asked if I would like to eat some seafoods.
I denied after seeing those lively marine creatures.
Later we took a cab back to the haeundae beach, the white sand beach.
It was a long one hosting a lot of events and we never had an idea how the time was spent.
We took photographs in front of the Sand dunes and the HAEUNDAE word.
We rested for a while sitting on the beach,watching the flock of seagulls fed by the tourists.
We ate after a while doing some activities in the long beach.
We sat on the shore watching people around us and hearing the public singers.
It was already evening when we reached the fishing spot.
The beautiful view of the sunset soothed me.
What an excellent destination.
We looked around almost every part of the beach except for the water sports.
It was dark already.
The night view with all the buildings lit was magnificent and purely modern.
The night reminded me that its the end of the second day trip.
But to my surprise, Mr.Park took me to another world -Sea life Aquarium,the best ever place I visited. We walked through the tunnel inside the aquarium.
It was a transparent view surrounded by the blueness of the water.
It felt like you are in the different world.
An Underwater world. The most incredible view of sea life above you.
I was amazed by the experience.
‘This is the best place to forget oneself and that’s what excites me always. I am so happy. Thank you. A lot.’ I rejoiced.
He stared at me with surprise. ‘Is there something on my face?’ I asked him in doubt.
He laughed out loud and said,“No...You looked cute.”
‘Heh..Thanks.’ I replied with a cheesy smile.
That was a beautiful day to remember,with a Korean friend I just made.
To my surprise, he spent the whole day with me. He seemed familiar and warm in that foreign land.
It felt nice, to be with someone,an unknown person for the first time.
Thanks to him,the second day of my trip ended so beautifully.
It should be sleeping time after dinner.
But,what about dinner?
‘Whoa! An Indian Restaurant? In Haeundae?’ I was shocked.
‘Should I ask him to join for dinner?’
‘Will he join me?’
‘Will he like Indian food?’
‘Or should I go alone?’ So many questions rattling my mind and I stopped in front of the restaurant.
“Shall we go inside and eat?” he asked.
’Do you eat Indian foods?’I exclaimed.
“Yes, I have few Indian friends and I like eating Indian foods.I thought you would crave for it.”
’Oh.. that’s so thoughtful of you.I would love to eat there.’I said.
We entered the restaurant. Found a table and ordered our dinner.
I ordered, Rice with chicken makhani and Naan with paneer gravy, Tandoori chicken and salad with mango lassi.
“So many dishes?” Park shrieked in surprise.
’It’s just a starter, and two main dishes! You’ll like it once you taste.’I smiled at him.
“Okay! I am waiting eagerly to taste them.” he winked.
Then our table was filled with the dishes. We started with Tandoori.
“Wow! This tastes different and yummy!” said Park, “Love the spiciness !”
I agreed nodding my head.
We were then served the butter Naan and the gravy.
To my surprise, Park was eating the Naan comfortably with his hand, but switched to spoon while having rice!
We ate sharing our views about the food.
We stared at each other with our mouthful.
We smiled and ate again.
Should I talk? Should I ask about him?
“So..Ms. Umm..? he tried to think but failed and looked at me.
‘Oh! It’s Maya.’
“Ms.Maya..What made you come here?” he questioned me.
’Ah..I just needed some space and time to forget things.I wanted to run away for a while.And so I ended up here,’I heaved a big sigh.
“Forget. Run away” he pouted his lips.
”But why Korea?” he wondered.
‘Well, It’s my dream destination to visit,ever since I started watching K-dramas.’
“Oh,You watch Korean dramas?Then you must know a lot about Korean celebrities and our language too,right?” his voice with excitement.
‘Yeah,sort of. I do love Koreans,but when it comes to the language I ain’t that brilliant to grasp the knowledge,’ I winked.
‘By the way, I have been thinking for long to ask...!’ I dragged.
He asked, “What was it?”
’Huh! Your hat and that mask?’I pointed towards his side. ‘Why do you keep wearing them,As if you are a celebrity?’ my voice curious.
He choked up while eating.
‘Are you okay?’ I asked giving him the bottle of water. He nodded his head while drinking it. He said nothing.
We kept eating in silence.
After eating, he said “It’s time.I will drop you at the Hotel.”
We then rode back to my Hotel in a cab. He then dropped me in the hotel.
Waving at me,he said “Good night!”
’Good night,’I waved back.
“See you tomorrow,then,”he said and left.