Cultural differences,  Solo travelling

8th July – The term privacy means different for the Koreans

I can’t tell whether this post is a positive or negative one. I had a very grateful moment as well as disturbing one. I will let you decide it.

Since I started travelling I couldn’t sleep really well. For 2 days I didn’t have a proper sleep and after that I went to bed at midnight but woke up at 6am or 7am. While going to places I always fell asleep on the public transport because the travelling time was extremely long. Going from A to B always took around 1 hour. As for eating I also didn’t eat properly especially in the morning as I didn’t buy food to cook. Outside I always had to think what to eat, where to eat and how much it is. I wanted something that can fill me with a reasonable price.

This morning I didn’t eat anything when I left the house. On the way I didn’t find anywhere to eat either. I decided to go to Beomeosa, a Buddhist temple of course in the mountain. On the way I found a food stall selling white bread with red bean filling. The owner told me to wait 5 minutes until it was ready. I waited. Then she started to ask me questions like where I was from. Out of no where she asked me whether I was married. I said I was a student. But inside I was like “it wasn’t her business.” When I asked her which way went to Beomeumsa she asked me back why I wanted to go there. I told her because I wanted to see it. Once again I was annoyed by the question that had nothing to do with her.

I got the bread then I left. I arrived to a three intersection road. I didn’t know which way to go. One went up the hill, one was a road for cars. I didn’t want to climb the steep road but the car road seemed nonsense. Of course the way to temple was the car road. I followed a group of middle age people who went on hiking. While walking beside the cars I kept asking myself why I had to find another chance to climb the hill and walk miles when I was tired, sleepy and hungry. Fortunately there was a bus so I took the bus going up there.

The moment I arrived to the temple everything was worth it. The temple was huge, surrounded by the huge green mountains. It was the time of lecturing as well, the monk said their prayers. The chant was calming. I didn’t want to go inside the temple so I sat outside at the door while enjoying the view of the mountain, the roof of the temple. Listening to the chant plus the view was the perfect combination for me to chill.

Then a halmeoni (referring to someone who can be your grandmother) sat down next to me and started talking. I could talk and understand her. Sometimes she had to repeat herself many times. She also asked me if I was married. I didn’t understand why people were interested in this. When she knew I was travelling alone she didn’t want to believe it and she felt as if she had to take care of me. She told me the temple provided free lunch and told me to follow her. So I left but I still wanted to sit there and listen. Of course I was hungry at the same time.

I followed her. Many people gathered mainly aged and middle aged people. They did really provide free lunch. It was rice with bean sprout and seaweed. The halmeoni made sure I had bowl, spoon and food. I was very touched and while eating I almost shed a tear. When I was hungry I suddenly had a free food from the temple with the help of an unknown person that I’m grateful even now.

Rice with seaweed and bean sprout

We finished lunch. I told her I wanted to see a fortresse and she told me to go down with her and then go to the fortresse. To be honest I didn’t want to go down yet. But thinking I needed to arrive home soon and there was a lot of thing to see yet, so I went with her. There was shuttle bus that took visitors from the temple to the metro station. We took that bus and it was free of charge. On the way down I fell asleep. When we arrived the halmeoni told me not to go to the fortresse as I was tired. I said yes, then I would go home.

But inside I suddenly felt frustrated. Before the lunch the halmeoni asked me from where I had money to travel alone when I was a student. (I told her beforehand I was student.) I answered that I worked while studying. But inside once again, I was annoyed by the fact that it wasn’t her business. I could feel she was caring for me. But I felt as if I was tied. I wanted to enjoy the temple more but then I left only because I was grateful for her. She told me to go home since I was tired, but again I felt like someone controlled me. I should have been grateful but I felt annoyed instead. Why did I go down?

I got on the bus that took me to fortresse. She also got on the bus, to which she was surprised as we already said goodbye and I told her I went by the metro. Whatever, we travelled together. On the bus I fell asleep again and she woke me up. I wasn’t in the mood to travel anywhere anymore. I simply felt annoyed and disturbed. But I also wanted to do something exciting, I didn’t want to go home yet.

I decided to go back to Ami-dong to find a stone with Japanese name. Of course I didn’t find any as I was scared going down that narrow road. I went back to my accommodation but first I went into the temple nearby. I sat there for a while to soothe the sounds in my head down. I missed the chant and the view though. When I felt better I went home to take a shower and prepare to pack my things as tomorrow I’m going to Jeju.

A narrow road in Ami-dong

What I learned from today is that, there are situations and there are people when you cannot just help them and act like you are too close to each other. I don’t like distance between people either but without it, there would be a point that everyone will feel uncomfortable. You might sympathize with someone and want to help them, but before doing so you have to ask whether they need it or not. On the other hand if you want or don’t want to do something gather enough courage to tell the other person that. Be brave to express your thoughts kindly. Otherwise you don’t only make yourself feel bad but the other person as well.

My trip to Busan is coming to an end. In summary as Busan is mountainous city, there is a lot hiking place and even the roads are steep. If you want to hike the mountain, swim in the sea, do shopping be in an Asian city that is not that humid then Busan is the best place for you! 🙂 Also as you can see from my stories, people are heartwarming, caring and tend to be close to you. It might be strange but remember that it is their care. If you prefer to keep distance kindly tell them that.

I’m moving to Jeju island the next day. Stay on to see how Jeju is.

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