Last week I went to Busan with my friends. We stayed there for two nights and traveled by train. Busan is Korea´s second largest city in the south of the country. Travelling there does not take that ling (3-4 hours by train). We bought the KorailPass, which is super convenient. It is offered for foreigners and can be purchased for different number of days. We took the 3 day pass. You can travel unlimited and in any train with the pass.
Our hostel was right next to the fish market. It is the largest in Korea and there is everything one can imagine. The smell of salt and fish is omnipresent in Busan. We had a huge plate of raw fish for a good price. Like sushi just without the rice. Really tasty! You put the fish in a leaf and add sauce. I did not like the leaf taste, therefore just ate the fish with the side dishes.
We walked around the city center on the search of bikinis (two of my friends forgot to bring theirs). We managed at the end, it´s already off season so it was a challenge to find something.
As the weather was so amazing we went to Gwangan beach. It was nearly empty. We were the only ones in the water (and it was NOT cold!). Koreans don´t swim or tan (like we did). Being tanned is ugly, therefore they just walk along the beach fully dressed! It is a strange feeling to be half naked whilst others are walking around in suits.
Swimming makes hungry so we enjoyed some chicken and beer close by. Fried chicken with different flavors are really popular in Korea. Try eating a chicken wing with chopsticks! The beer tasted like water, so a good refreshment. With our stomachs being filled we walked along the beach. The lights look beautiful. Busan has a very impressive skyline and bridge. The many lights really were something. Two of my friends bought cooked silk worms, the MOST DISGUSTING thing ever. I don´t have a problem eating weird things as long as they taste good. They didn’t and I strongly encourage you to NEVER to eat it! We walked for quite a while until we took the subway back to the hostel. Busan feels rather small compared to Seoul (it is!), but as it has 3,6 million inhabitants it takes a while to get around. We made one last stroll to the city center, where we got us a midnight snack and then sat with the hostel manager and his friends drinking rice wine. If you do not like soju, you should definitely try rice wine. For me it tastes like BananenWeizen (Germans know what I mean). I prefer it over soju, as it it has a taste and is not as sweet.
I shared my bed with Mango, the hostel cat. I don´t have any animals so it was rather weird. I tried to take up as little space of the bed as possible. Mango seemed to enjoy my company and stayed there for most of the night.
After breakfast, we took the bus to the Cultural Village. Unfortunately the weather was not like the day before. It rained several times and the sky was not to be seen. The cultural village is a touristy area where you can look at street art, shops and eat local food. I thought it would be more historic. After the first disappointment I really enjoyed the Cultural Village. You had a fantastic view and there was lots to see. We tried Ssiat Hotteok ( Busan specialty), a pastry/pancake filled with roasted seeds. Very delicious and not too sweet.
We then took the bus and metro to the UN Cemetery. We had lunch at a very popular restaurant. We had another Busan specialty: Pork soup with rice. Very tasty and you feel super healthy afterwards (same effect as eating chicken broth when you´re ill). We then followed the signs to the UN cemetery. Somehow the sign were rather wrong and we ended up at the UN Peace Memorial Hall ( on top of the hill). The Memorial Hall is basically a museum about the UN´s involvement in the Korean war. Interesting fact: minimum number of soldiers required by each state was 1,000. Luxembourg was the exception as it only had a population of 200,000 at the time ( still makes me laugh!). We wondered were the cemetery is. It is the only UN cemetery in the world, where the soldiers are buried that died during the Korean War (except US soldiers, they are buried back home). We took the elevator to the observatory and saw the cemetery. Very impressive. The view was very good. After having seen this historic place we left.
Next on our list was the Beomeo-sa Temple. We took the subway and then the bus which takes you directly to the Temple ( if you find the bus!). Locate beautifully in the mountains Beomeo-san is very impressive. I´ve never seen a Buddhist Temple, so it was very interesting and exciting for me. It rained a bit, but the mysterious atmosphere made the Temple look even more impressive. Really, something you should not miss!
In the evening the hostel manager invited us to a party. We had pajeon (korean green onion pancake) and rice wine. There were four kids at the party, so there were lots of things going on. Unfortunately for Mango, the cat. Cats do not like to many people and the kids did not understand that. Mango hid under my seat for most of the party. We felt obliged to protect him from the “MANGOOOO” screaming kids. It was a perfect end to a really nice day.
We took our things with us and drove to the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. The weather was fantastic! The temple was located at the ocean and very touristy. Many people were there to visit. The temple had a completely different atmosphere, but was just as beautiful. We had lunch and a perfect view over the water.
One of my friends had already left for Seoul in the morning. Two of my friends left after the Temple. The three of us left went to the beach. This time we went to Haeundae Beach, which is the most popular one. This time there were more people. But just like the other day, only foreigners were swimming or tanning. The Koreans borrowed the hanbok, traditional clothing, at the beach and then took pictures. It was rater absurd, we in our bikinis and they in their traditional clothing. I also want to wear the hanbok, but then with a more “korean” background like mountains or something. There was a group of jet-ski drivers at the beach. They let people (mostly women) sit behind them. My friend and me waved at them, hoping that one of the would take us with them. They got to us and then left, as they had no vest with them. They fortunately came back and have me a vest. I sat on the jet-ski and held on to the driver as much as I could. I could´t scream, as the driver didn´t like that. It was super FAST and FUN. I always wanted to try, but it was always too expensive. Now I got it for free. What wearing a bikini is good for 😉
We then walked around the Market and took the train back to Seoul. As it was Sunday, the train was completely booked and we had to stand. It wasn´t too bad.
We had a great trip and lots of fun!!!
That was all about the trip to Busan!