Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

Day 5 -- The KTX train to Busan and the conference begins

Though we successfully used the metro yesterday, after a light breakfast of pancakes with various toppings and a bowl of fruit, we took the easy way out and simply got a taxi from the JW Marriott hotel to Busan Station. We arrived in plenty of time and, after hanging about for a while, the train arrived and we found our seats. The seats seemed very spacious and I think G had actually paid a bit extra for first class, but the journey was smooth and we watched the scenery pass by for 2 hours and 40 minutes until we arrived in Busan. I attempted to capture the low cloud and general misty greyness of the landscape, but I don't know how well the pictures will turn out until I can look at them on a big screen. (Pretty poor, is my guess! But to be honest, the camera that I forgot to bring wouldn't really have done any better, so you aren't missing anything.)

The agriculture was interesting with what I took to be fields and fields of rice on every available piece of flat land with other vegetables and fruit trees growing on the gentle slopes. There were also lots of polytunnels. But the only sign of livestock as a pen of ducks glimpsed in passing and not much wildlife either, only a couple of white herons standing in the fields.

If we'd thought it was wet in Seoul, it was nothing compared to Busan. The station was as hot and steamy as a bathroom after a long hot shower. We were supposed to be being met, but there was no sign of anyone when we left the platform. Even circling the station concourse a few times revealed no greeting persons, but we persisted and eventually found two charming teenage girls from the KAIST, holding a sign indicating they were from the conference. They gave us a vital piece of paper with the address of the school in Korean and it's post code, so we could show taxi drivers where we wanted to go and then we set out to walk to the hotel.

This time it really was only 10 minutes walk from the station :) and we found it without too much difficulty. The Kommodore Hotel is nowhere near as luxurious as the five star JW Marriott, but it has great charm and the room, though probably considered tiny by US standards, is comparable to any modest UK hotel. There is no free wi-fi in the room, but it is available in the lobby, but there is also wi-fi at the conference, so I'll probably just use the iPod Touch to check the most urgent things and post these daily updates when we return to the Marriott in Seoul.

When we arrived, we were given an upgrade from a standard room to a superior one (so a standard room may be a bit basic), but it wasn't quite ready and they gave us a complimentary cup of tea and coffee while we waited in the lounge. We were rather soggy. Though we have brought waterproofs, it's so hot and humid that you just sweat inside them and get completely clammy. The locals all use umbrellas and I plan to buy one on the way to the conference tomorrow morning.
After changing out of our wet clothes, we again decided that speed and convenience trumped the urge to get to KAIST under our own steam, so we took a taxi from the hotel to where the conference is being held and enrolled and received our conference pack, which of course comes in a bag! :) This time it's a canvas shopping bag style bag, which will be very useful when I get home.

We saw some familiar faces and chatted until it was time for the welcome buffet, then we chatted some more while we ate. It was really nice to be remembered from the Latvian conference in Riga. However, I did have a momentary panic when G pointed out my name in the program. It seems I am chairing a session. After an eek! moment, I felt slightly reassured when G explained that I only had to introduce the speakers, manage the questions and make sure that the session finishes on time. I think I can do that OK.

Then some of the young students at KAIST gave a display of traditional Korean drumming, which was splendidly noisy. After that, both G and I were staring to fade (as were many of the other participants who had actually already done the main ICME conference in Seoul before moving on to Busan). As the KAIST is not on a main road and nowhere near a hotel or station that would attract taxis, one of the helpful local oraganisers was phoning for taxis to take people back to their hotels.

And so ends another day with G quietly snoring in bed and me quickly typing this reminder of what I did on my holiday -- which turned out to be slightly less of a holiday than I had intended, seeing as i have been drafted in as an active participant in the conference rather as just a member of the audience.

[Cross-posted from Dreamwidth by way of a backup http://heleninwales.dreamwidth.org/51898.html. If you want to leave a comment, please use whichever site you find most convenient. Comments so far: comment count unavailable.]
Tags: what i did on my holidays

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