In Japan there are a string of National Holidays that fall at the beginning of May and give most people the week off from work. I decided to take advantage of this to travel to Busan in South Korea.
I chose Busan because it was a large beach city with lots to do/see/eat while where. I don’t know why I was thinking with my stomach. While I am not a vegetarian any longer, I still don’t each much meat and generally don’t cook it at home. I also don’t like Kimchi so there were not to many local foods for me to eat.
I booked a week in the mixed dorm room of a hostel and took off for some sun and sand. The hostel has two building but both were easy to find and close to the Subway.
I spent the first day at the beach with a book and a crazy crowd. There were so many people on the beach. It felt wonderful to relax and read and forget about work and responsibilities.
The next day I met some fellow Canadians at the hotel when they moved in to share the dorm with me. Two (Karen and Luke) were a couple who were teaching in Korea and the third (Sam) was a friend who was visiting them so they were taking him around Korea.
We ended up going to see some temples and Buddha statues. There were a few hikes in the hills outside of Busan. We went for bibimbap and Korean BBQ to eat. We wandered around the beaches and had a good few days together.
Over the course of two days Sam flirted and I avoided, while still trying to be polite and non-confrontational (a Canadian staple). I wasn’t in Korea for anything other than a beach vacation and really wasn’t interested in him. The flirting even made it hard to be friendly.
They asked if I wanted to continue up to Seoul with them the next day. I thought about it, I would lose a bit of money because I had already paid for the hostel. I would also have to continue to be polite to the Sam and I was worried that traveling to Seoul with them would give him the wrong idea. I leaning towards saying yes when there were a few things that changed my mind.
We went out to dinner and had a few drinks, then went to a bar and had a few more drinks. They we went to the liquor store and headed to the beach to play some drinking games, high on the sand away from the waterline. We ended up having a few more drinks that evening then any evening previous.
While we were playing cards and talking Sam kissed me and I told him I wasn’t interested. I explained that I wasn’t looking for anything and I’m not the type of person who is looking for something just for fun. He tried to convince me that it didn’t have to be just for fun. That I could move back to Canada and we could try to make things work there and he would treat me nice.
I’m sorry but that is creepy, deranged, misogynistic, desperate? I don’t know what it was but it bugged me. I love my life, travelling and seeing the world and going where I want, when I want, when work allows. I’m not ever going to move to a new country for someone I just met. I want to take care of myself, I want my own space, my own money, my own stuff. I told Sam this. I knew then that I was not going to travel to Seoul.
The reset of the evening is awkward and uncomfortable with Sam occasionally trying to change my mind. Not to long after that we head back to the hostel. I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow, into the deep sleep of the drunk.
When I wake up the most shocking thing is awaiting me. Sometime that night after I had passed out Sam had crawled into my bed with me. I woke up to him spooning me. My mind was blown. Who does something like that? What the fuck are you thinking when you crawl into bed with someone who has already told you no. I never found out what he was thinking. I was so pissed off and creeped out that I got dressed and left the hostel while everyone was sleeping.
I spent the whole day wandering around and trying to wrap my head around what had happened. I know he was drink but that is not an excuse. It’s never an excuse.
I spent the next few days relaxing at the beach. I rented an inner tube to float on one day. So that I could feel the waves and relax. I had all of my things (phone, cash, cards) in a waterproof bag around my neck. I let the sun and sand take me away, or I tried to. I must be a creeper magnet though.
As I was floating on my inner tube I had some random men swim up to me and start talking to me. I was so done with people by that point I would usually respond in French or Japanese, hoping they could not speak those languages and would leave me alone.
My ruse was up when someone spoke French and I had to admit that I only had basic French skills and I spoke English but was responding in French so people would leave me alone. He didn’t get the hint.
After that people around new I spoke English and tried to talk to me. One man even held onto the inner tube so I could not swim away. He wanted to know if I wanted to get dinner or drinks later. Could he take me out? What was my number. I was so tired that I stood up and walked away and left the beach.
People need to read the body language of the people they are talking to. When people give short one word responses, don’t look at you, move away from you, these are all clues they want nothing to do with you. I probably would have been okay if they were local people wanting to talk or ask questions. But they were most foreign Arab men. Now I try to wear a fake wedding ring when I want to be left alone so I can tell people my husband is at a meeting.
The next few days I still went to different beaches but I mostly stayed out of the water and laid on the beach with my headphones in and a book ignoring the world.
Over all it was a nice trip but I was having a strange time with men and how they were approaching me. It reminded me that as a solo female traveller I always have to be ready to protect myself no matter where in the world I am. Most people are open and welcoming and great but there are always predators to watch out for. Be cautious and use common sense.