Yesterday was a marathon of a day for me. At work by 6:45 a.m. yesterday, finally getting back to the hotel at 1:30 a.m. this morning. I was all over Busan yesterday between locations, helping dignitaries for the APEC Summit arrive and get on their way. The day was a mixture of hurry up and wait. Hurry to the next site, do the preliminary work, wait, wait some more, and then spring into action when the dignitary arrives and race to get the work done before the next one comes in. Some have done what they need to do at APEC and have already started to leave. The action so far has come in waves. I was very busy for three days, culminating in yesterday’s marathon. Today has been much quieter, which is why I have time to write my blog at 5 p.m. Today and tomorrow will be quiet while the delegates attend the various APEC meetings, and then on Saturday everything reverses course and I shall help them depart the country. Despite missing dinner yesterday and breakfast this morning and surviving on water, sponge cake and vanilla wafers, I have had a lot of fun over the past few days. There is perhaps no other annual political-economic gathering as large and comprehensive as the APEC Summit. Next year it will be in Hanoi, Vietnam, and I wish the Vietnamese luck in pulling off a miraculously smooth Summit as the Koreans have thus far.
I have just one rant to share from my time here. I do not understand why the City of Busan decided to launch fireworks from the bridge of a major transportation arterial at 8:30 p.m. last night, right in the middle of the time when the most important digitaries and their entourages arrive for the Summit. The City could have held the fireworks display much later, or it could have launched them from the mountain overlooking the harbor. There is no reason they needed to put the city’s main east-west arterial linking the airport to the APEC site (BEXCO) out of commission during a critical period of time. Everyone in the city descended on the area to watch the fireworks, snarling traffic. I needed to get an extremely important package (I cannot underestimate its importance) to Haeundae to give to a delegation, and my vehicle became hopelessly entangled in the horrendous traffic jam. Not only did I not see the fireworks, but I never made it to the site. One of the most important packages in the Summit had to be taken by a colleague of mine who had time in a taxi to Haeundae. I needed to return to the airport for yet another arrival. My driver called the police to request a police escort, and at first they thought we were joking. By the time it was over, we were extremely upset, my colleague was in a taxi, and city officials were apologizing profusely for not responding to the crisis in time. I’m sure the fireworks were gorgeous, but the timing and location were appalling. The package did arrive safely, and I made it back to the airport in record time–because there was no traffic! Virtually everyone in Busan was gridlocked near Haeundae.