Monday, August 20, 2012

HAEUNDAE: 01 - Haeundae's Parasols Don't Come for Free

I really thought that they were free, until someone saying “You are not allowed to use that” in Korean came over. The good news was that I understood what he said perfectly. I have reviewed that sentence construction before. So yes, it was still a triumphant moment. It was not that humiliating because people simply did not care. When you are sunbathing on a beach under a very angry sun, you would not either. I asked him where to pay and how much. He gave me a figure that was affordable, but it was already a big turn off for me. I thought those parasols were government provided, HAHAHA. What was I thinking! And so I just took a stroll and checked out the Busan Aquarium afterwards.

Haeundae Beach is no Boracay, and would probably not even rank in the Top 10 if we rate the beaches on this side of the world with aesthetics used as the sole criteria. Haeundae Beach would make it to those lists if the basis used would be convenience of location. With a metro station named after it, this beach is just one hop away on Busan’s light rail system.

That is what makes it surreal. You go out of the station, walk a few hundred meters down an area full of high rise buildings and motels and voilà, you reach the beach. That road next to it is what I imagine Roxas Boulevard would be if Manila Bay were a nice beach with bright red and blue parasols. Yes, that is the overall feel of the place. We can dub it as a cosmopolitan beach, for lack of better term.

As already mentioned, the parasols, regardless if they are the simple ones or those that come with reclined sunbathing chairs, are not free of charge. You would see some people and stalls at the center of each area of the beach. Approach them and pay your dues to enjoy the facilities.

Most of those who come to Haeundae either swim or go sunbathing. There are also a lot of those who rent yellow life buoys and enjoy the waves artificially enhanced by several jet skis. If neither basking under the heat nor letting yourself get dragged by not so clear waves is your cup of tea, just cool down at the Busan Aquarium, which is just as crowded. But hey, at least it is cool inside. And sharks!!!

Aquariums no longer appeal to me, but the lack of any better activity to do on that hot day left me without a choice. I needed that sun to mellow down if I wanted to take a stroll and meet Dongbaek’s mermaid. For the meantime, it was time to de-dehydrate, and what better way to do it than in the company of sharks and them colorful fishies!

Busan Aquarium is huge and obviously larger than the one we have in Manila. They also have a bigger collection of species here: penguins, sharks, big fishes, and other sea creatures that are surely interesting, but whose names slipped my mind. You see a lot of water around you. Getting a good photograph with your favorite sea creature would be quite a challenge. In tourist attractions such as this one, you usually snap a photo and expect to capture another arm also snapping a photo, instead of that colorful fish that you wanted to inhabit your Facebook cover spread.

Some funny bloopers would be the leopard statue next to the fish, and some other figurines of animals that should rather belong to a zoo. Live versions of them, however, could not be found, so I guess it was just an odd case of a liberal thinking interior designer. Just stare at the fish! The penguins were cute, but too lazy to entertain us. They probably thought that there are more meaningful things to do in their life aside from being amusingly cute to us admission fee paying humans. If roles are to be reversed and I was the penguin, I would probably have the same sentiment. Heck, I would even probably try to attack you, for the sake of fun. Yes, violence is the answer. And I am no Happy Feet.

After taking part in mass pushing and shoving, you reach the end of your aquarium trip and find yourself in a souvenir shop full of overpriced items that you could probably buy for half the price somewhere else. Splurge at your own risk. A car turned into an aquarium is the main attraction by the spiral staircase leading up to the exit. Some food establishments could be found on that same floor if hunger gets the better of you. What to do next? Go back to the beach!

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