Tuesday, March 26, 2013

South Korea Day 4: Busan Marine Natural History Museum

After the morning field trip to Jagalchi, the girls retired to the hotel room for a nap, while daddy went in search of yet another educational playground, the Busan Natural History Museum.

It would have had been a place daddy would have loved to bring the family, but since the little bundles of limitless energy have found their limit and need to be recharged, daddy took it upon himself to bring back lots of photos.

The trip there itself was an adventure. The only directions daddy managed to write down in his phone were "Oncheonjang Station, Exit 4, 15 minutes walk toward Geumgang Park". He had intended to search for more details later, but the wonderfully hectic schedule of our holiday thus far had caused this task to slip from memory.

Nevertheless, after making it to Oncheonjang Station after splitting from the rest of the gang, a quick look at the map showed that Geumjang Park was huge, and that practicially walking in any direction North to East would satisfy a "15 minute walk toward Geumgang Park". In addition, Exit 4 was not facing the direction of Geumjang Park, and nearest exit in that direction was Exit 3 instead.

 A confused daddy decided to head for the main road, walk in a general North East direction, and hope to see something to guide him, if not, ask for directions along the way. Language was a problem, but his acting skills have helped him survive when he was alone in Jagalchi without Mommy cum translator, and it should suffice here as well, or so he thought.

True enough, there was a street sign indicating the general direction toward the museum. However, after going in that direction for about 20 minutes, daddy realised he was lost. He prayed a silent prayer to ask God for assistance, and God responded by sending a pair of workers from the nearby church who were giving out flyers for an upcoming event. Next challenge for God: overcome the language barrier. This is how it played out:

1. Daddy showed them the name of the museum on his handphone.
2. One of them web searchedthe name on her handphone to get the Korean version, then looked up the directions.
3. They realized they have no way of telling daddy how to get there, despite now knowing the directions.
4. They offered to drive daddy to the museum, and they spend another 15 minutes walking back to their parked car and off they went.

When daddy finally made it to his destination, he thanked his God-sent angels and requested some students coming out of the building to help him take some photographs of him with the surroundings.

Stepping into the museum, the first floor was quiet, and no one was manning the counter. There were not many exhibits here, with an entrance to the research offices on the left, and an entrance to the reference collections on the right. What a treat it would have been to raid the reference section, but unfortunately, it was not opened to the public that day.

A sign beside the stairwell described what can be seen on each floor of the museum, but it still took a little bit of interpretation before daddy understood what the themes meant.

1F is not opened to public; 2F seems to have to do with the mystical aspects of natural history that I do not quite understand; 3F houses displays of marine life in Korea; 4F explores specimens and exhibits of marine life in the tropic, and is connected to another pavilion via a bridge. Exciting!

Going up to the Special Exhibition Room on the second floor (2F), I found the exhibits a little difficult to understand as they seemed to focus on the mystical and supernatural aspects of natural history. I did not spend much time in this large room as it looked more like an art exhibition to me. I was not very interested in this field, and was eager to see some of the other specimens in the other halls.

The third floor (3F) was a little more appealing to me, with a number of chambers, each focusing on an aspect of marine wildlife. Here are the photographs of the second level (mid-way through this floor my trusty Canon G12 ran out of battery, partly due to the heavy usage at Jagalchi Fish Market this morning, and most photographs were taken on my HTC mobile):

Panaromic view of the 'marine birds and mammals' exhibit'.

Except for this hardworking cleaner and a couple of lone visitors, I did not see anyone else.

A rare visitor to the museum.

Panoramic view of the 'marine fishes' display.

Panaromic view of one of the 'Shark' displays.

More sharks of korea!

The largest shark specimen here was the hammer head shark. However, you'll get to see the biggest shark later, which also happens to be the biggest fish in the sea! Can you guess?

More shark specimens.

Panoramic view of the 'ray' display.

This was the largest stingray specimen!

Marine mollusks of Korea!

The room was fitted with multiple glass displays such as these to showcase very small seashells under a magnifying glass.
Seashell specimens.

The fourth floor (4F) houses many glass displays of living reptiles from various parts of the world. Here are a selection of photographs from the exhibits. The floor was quite big and there were many more specimens and aquariums that I did not manage to photograph!

Common snapping turtle

Boa constrictor.

Water monitor lizard.

Spur thigh tortoises.

Large crocodile!

After viewing this mini zoo on the fourth floor, there is a bridge that connects to a second block / pavillion. The exhibits here appear to focus more on the marine life of the Korean peninsular.

The next area houses a collection of fossils of marine animals such as seashells, fish, whales, plants and dinosaurs!

Fossilized reptile?

Panaromic view of the entrance to the fossil room.

Fossil prints of fish.


Fossilized whale vertebrate.

Remains of a large marine mammal.

Walking out of the fossil hall, I proceed to a large area called the 'Korea Hydrosphere Resource Room' which is next to the 'Fish Room'. I'll let the photographs do the talking:

Panoramic view of the Hall of Hydrosphere Resources of Korea.

Skeleton of a Bering Sea Beaked Whale in the Fish Hall on the same level.

Panaromic view of the Fish Room.

In the Fish Room is a large specimen of a Whale Shark, the largest fish species in the world!

More views of the Fish Room showing the wall-to-wall glass displays of countless large and small fish species!

Freshwater species are not left out!

I recognise some of these from my trip to Jagalchi Fish Market this morning!

 I walked up a small stairwell to find myself in a small surround screen theatre, and there was a small seating area for about up to twenty persons. What a treat! I wish I had more time to sit and enjoy the movie, perhaps with popcorn, but I was late in getting here and wanted to head back to the hotel to join my family for dinner.

The surround screen theatre with an ongoing movie.

I made my way out of the theatre and down the stairs to the second floor, where I was surrounded by large aquariums housing a variety of fishes.

Dark walkway surrounded by colourfully lit aquariums.

River scene.

Upon exiting the aquarium I entered a room showcasing a number of seashell specimens, known as the Seashell Room.


Small tropical gastropods.

Larger mollusks often eaten as food.

One of my favourites: thorny oysters attached to hammer oysters make a beautiful and interesting showcase.

Before the exit to the museum, there is a small provision shop, which has its own exhibit: a mini walk through cave display, great for children and high enough for adults too.

The provision and snack shop.

Entrance to the cave walk.

Panaromic view of the exhibits in the cave walk through.

After a couple of hours in the building, my legs were very tired. I had climbed up four floors and then down four floors again. Each floor was huge. However, there were no regrets, and the resolve to bring my family here with me to see these amazing specimens was stronger than ever. Next time however, I will know how to get here.

Right outside the museum is Geumgang Park, another wonderful place to hike around if you have the time and love to spend it exploring some of Busan's majestic hillside.

A dinosaur replica at the entrance to the park area.

Here is the link to a website I did not see earlier, otherwise I would have found this place more easily and have had a better idea of what to expect: http://sea.busan.go.kr/english/info/e_introduction_01.jsp. Other than directions to the place, you can find information on the exhibits, background and history, educational programmes, and recommendations to other similarly themed museums in Busan.

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