I will remember my flight to Busan for the fitful nap behind a fire hose in the Beijing airport. By comparison, I will remember my first day in Busan for the clementines and the kittens.
South Korea exists on the bleeding edge of technology and public transit – so on my way from the Busan airport, my jetlagged nerd-mind was still marveling at the wicked affordable light rail pass that resembles a poker chip. I was so enamored with this symphony of human progress, in fact, that I proceeded to act like an absolute stone-age troglodyte. It took a few bleary-eyed seconds to register the signs above my head, bedecked with the international symbols for, “Disabled, Pregnant or Elderly Passengers Only. Also, This Foreigner is Stupid and/or a Jerk. Everybody Please Give Him the Stinkeye.”
Standing up made me look slightly less like a barbarian, and the elderly Korean woman who boarded at the next stop might have actually mistaken me for a polite young man. But she certainly could sense that I had been subsisting for the past thirty-plus hours on Hainan Airlines dinner rolls and single-serving crackers. When my peripheral vision finally came into focus, I found that a Korean version of my own grandmother had delved into her purse and came out with a pair of ripe clementines, stems still attached.
It may have all been a graceful ruse to obscure my travel stench with something more citrus-fresh. But what a sweet and tasty ruse it was (which I only ate off the train, because I am trying to be civilized).
LZone sits all of two blocks from the Kyungsung University Metro, but those two blocks are typical of urban Asia: shops built upon shops buit upon rabbit holes and confusion. It was on my second pass that, in the storefront of a local arcade, a little kitten looked up at me and mewed. Because I speak Kitten far better than I speak Korean, I understood that he was asking me to appreciate the dapper little scarf wrapped around his adorable neck. He headbutted my shin a few times so that I could get a better look.
As my friends and family all understand, food are kittens are my barometer for happiness. And so by that metric, I can’t help but get the sense that coming to Busan was a damn fine life choice. Thanks, Kitten.