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Full Circle

Day 46: Hakata to Pusan

Michael Palin - Full CirclePitch darkness. Rudely awoken by a thunderous rumbling roar which sounds as though the ship is being disembowelled beneath me. It's the anchor going down which means that we must already have covered the 140 miles of the Korea Strait to Pusan.

Dawn: Our ferry, the Camellia, stands off the rocky undulating coast of South Korea, one of a queue of vessels waiting to pierce the hazy brown veil of pollution that all but obscures the country's second largest city. Several passengers are up on deck exercising. I'm going through my travel documents in an anxious pre-Customs and Immigration way, ticking boxes to aver that I am not carrying 'guns, knives, gunpowder, drugs, psychotropic substances or any items harmful to the national constitution, public security or morals'. (I always wonder what sort of person answers 'yes' to a question like that.)

With a mournful blast of the horn, our ship moves slowly towards the dockside. It's only 7.30 a.m. but South Korea is already at work, making itself bigger. Cranes are swinging and concrete is pouring into a vast land-reclamation project. Shoreline highways are choked with morning traffic and a powerful array of multi-storey blocks bear familiar names - Daewoo, Samsung, Hyundai, Goldstar and Ssongyang - the chaebols (family-owned super-conglomerates) that have pushed Korea's growth rate ahead of that of its arch-rival, Japan.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 46
  • Country/sea: South Korea
  • Place: Pusan
  • Book page no: 70

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