A Travellerspoint blog

South Korea

Final Busan

Yesterday was the last day in Busan.

It was a beautiful day, and I started the day by going to the United Nations national cemetery here in Busan. It is the only United Nations Cemetery in the world. The cemetery was only about a 20 minute ride on the metro. I went to the Memorial Hall, which showed a lot of pictures of the war, each divided by the various countries that we're involved in the conflict. I also saw a video on the Cemetery which was touching. One woman, who died in old age, was buried along side her long-deceased husband at the cemetery, although they have been married for only 3 weeks before he was sent off to war. I than walked alongside the part of the cemetery with tribute fountains and the graves.


After the cemetery, the Lonely Planet Guide listed too places to go to-one was the best sight in Busan, which was a Buddhist Temple, and the other was a "sight that makes you go wow". I decided on the second one-which entailed a sort of long metro ride (about 45 min I would guess)-but not as long as the other. This sight was a Buddhist Hermitage in the forest. I took the metro to the stop where I would soon catch the cable car, but re-read the Lonely Planet, and learned it was a 2 hour hike from the cable car. I didn't have the time or patience for that. So I got back on the metro to the-second-to-last-station on the line, got on a shuttle bus,and went to the "best sight in Busan" which is called Beomeosa.


The temple consisted of various buildings, set against evergreen trees behind and a beautiful view of the city and sea in front. It was beautiful, but since arriving in Hong Kong I have seen many Buddhist temples, and this one wasn't much different from the others. I walked up the steep hill and checked out the buildings, adorned with colorful lanterns and flags (for Vasek Festival/Buddha day) every May. As I walked down the steep hill, I found I left my jacket somewhere, so I walked back up the hill to a gift shop for the temple, and found I left my jacket there.

i then took the Metro downtown, bought a book at a bookstore with a small English section, and went for dinner at the Jagalchi Fish Market-where fresh fish is caught, and you can eat it there to. That was an option for around $30.00. I didn't want to spend that much-but I found a place serving sushimi for $10.00 (with soup and many sides), and that is where I ate.


i continued to walk around the fish market, looking at the various types of raw fish, and the booths that sold them.


I then took the metro back to the Centrum city mall, and walked around a little, and went back to the hostel.

Posted by DavidPearlman 17:04 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Busan, South Korea-From Africa to Peru and Greece

Yesterday, I started the day trying to talk to a couple in the hostel. I asked them if they we're from New England, because of their hat which I was sure was of the New England Patriots. I learned they we're from Toronto, and the cap was from the Blue Jays. So that went nowhere.

After breakfast, I walked outside, and it was cold and rainy. it was a good day for the museum, which I already decided I would go to. I took the metro to the Busan Modern History Museum. It was a small museum, but they had some interesting exhibits. I learned that during the Japanese occupation, the port of Busan was enlarged, and railroads we're developed-as Busan was the access point for Japan to begin conquering the Asian continent. I also learned Busan was the capital of the country while Seoul was under North Korean control. There was talk and an exhibit on all of the Korean solders forced to fight for the Japanese in World War II, and comfort woman-woman who we're used to "comfort" Japanese solders, being taken as sex slaves. The video showed some of them speaking as elderly ladies and it was heartbreaking.


After the museum, It was all of hot and sunny. I then took the metro on to a bus to the Gamcheon Cultural Village. Apparently the village was a slum by the hillside, but was converted into a cultural village by taking money and painting the hillside houses all sorts of bright colors. There are also artist galleries, and works of arts throughout the area.

The area is called the Machu Picchu of Busan-with steep steps, alleyways, and hills-and was quite beautiful. There is also comparisons to Santorini, as many of the roofs are blue. I also found it very touristy and in-your-face with souvenir shops and lots of crowds. I walked up and down the hills, and while it was quite beautiful, I never quite got the history of it.


After a few hours-I got back on the metro. The weather turned sunny buy cold. I wanted to watch the sunset, and wait for the laser show over the Gwangan Bridge, a large suspension bridge connecting two parts of Busan. I walked around the area for a few hours, as it was only around 6:00, and the laser show was due to start at 8:30. The area along the beach had all sorts of bars and restaurants. Folks we're walking their dogs. One woman was being filmed, as she was part of the African convention I saw the day before.


it was a nice scene, and the bridge was pretty-but the laser show advertised in the guide I have never happened. At roughly 9:00. I tried to find my way back to the hostel, but got lost. I found a bus stop, got on the bus, which took me to the metro, and made it back.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:14 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Busan, South Korea-from the Worlds Largest Store to Africa

IMG_4384.JPGYesterday was my first full day in Busan.

For another cool day, after breakfast at the hostel I took the metro to Shinegae, the world's largest department store, located in Busan. That's right, despite the sign on the outside, the world's largest department store isn't in the Big Apple and doesn't have a parade every Thanksgiving. I walked in right around opening at 10:30, and like every department store, it was full or workers behind every counter-except here they pretty much all bowed to me.


I looked at the guide to the store-which is 11 stories tall, and includes a ice skating rink (Which was closed when I tried to check it out). I walked around a little bit, and it looks pretty much like any other high-end department store. Actually, the world's largest store is more like a mall, and seems to have an H&M, Gap, and many other stores within the world's largest store-so it is hard to tell where the store ended and the mall began (and there is an adjoining mall-called the Centrum mall.)

I then walked over to Busan Cinema Center, right near Shingegae, which is a large hall with an outdoor plaza-I have found out that Busan is the film center of Korea. An African festival was going on, with a band playing African music, and booths from the various African countries going on. There was food being served as well. it was sort of odd to see South Koreans wearing African dress.


I had some African beef patties, and some cake for lunch. Additionally, I had French fries at a food truck named Belgium Travel, where they specialized in French fries. I met some high school girls from Chicago there, who we're on a one year exchange program. These girls had last name like Alvarez and Rodriguez. Being from Chicago, they we're probably of Mexican (or other Latin Country) descent. That would mean these girls from the US who descend from Mexico (or somewhere else) we're in South Korea attending an African festival at a Belgian food booth.

After the festival, i got back on the metro and on to the hop-on hop-off bus to check out other places in Busan. The hop-on hop-off saw some interesting and not so interesting sights-such as the first draw bridge in Korea. Supposedly, it opens every day for 10 minutes, and tourists go to see it. On the hop-on hop-off bus, there we're three mothers and 6 kids who made a l ot of noise.


The bus then went up a hill to a neighborhood called "The Santorini of Busan", which has houses on the hill-it didn't look much like it. I wanted to get off anyway-but couldn't, because by the time I got up to get off at the stop the bus continued going. I did get off at the next stop, hopefully to escape those kids-which didn't happen because they got off to. The stop was an observation deck high up on a hill overlooking the sea, with steps going down to the sea. The observation deck was actually a seawalk, which had a view through the floor where you can see what was below you. It was an impressive view. I walked down to the sea, and took pictures on the rocks.

I got back on the bus a while later. I took a picture of a stranger with his camera, and he gave me some food he was eating. Additionally, a little girl on the bus gave me some candy.

The bus kept going, up hills to the top-I got off at another observation desk, which was called Oryukdo, which was a large park. Here there are 5 or 6 islands out at sea, which vary according to the tide. i only counter 3 or 4 from the angle I was at. But it was a nice walk up the hill and back down, and through a park.


I returned to the bus. It went over to a beach, with cable cars, across the beach. And across large bridges.

It then got back into town-I got off and had some sushi (Busan supposedly has better sushi than Japan-not sure but it was good).

Posted by DavidPearlman 15:14 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Leaving Jeju: From paradise to fireworks

Yesterday, I checked out of the hostel in Jeju. Jeju was called Korea's Hawaii, and paradise, but the weather was cold, rainy and/or windy for the most part and it was tough to get around.


I took a one hour flight across the sea to Busan, the 2nd largest city in South Korea. I really wanted to take the ferry, which takes about 12 hours overnight, but the ferry only runs 3 days per week, so I flew, (it was only about $15 more to fly).


It is nice to be back in the big city. It was about an hour from the airport to the hostel, with a small light rail journey to the metro-the metro made about 20 stops it seems. The instructions from www.hostelworld.com we're to use exit 7 from the metro station. Exit 7 was under construction, so I was thouroughly confused. It did say on the website the nearest landmark is the Haeudae Grand Hotel. I found someone on the street-asked them, and they found the hotel. I then asked someone at another hotel around the corner from that hotel where the hostel was, and they we're able to direct me.

After checking in to the hostel, I talk a walk because i was hungry, out to a pedestrian mall near the hostel. I found a cafeteria style restaurant serving all sorts of fish cakes, fish patties, octopus balls, and other sea food-it was pretty good. Then I walked towards the nearby beach. I found a large festival going on-the Haeudae Sand Festival. The festival included many giant sand sculptures, including a woman and child, pyramids of Egypt, and a sand Indiana Jones.


A little past the 10 or so sand sculptures was a large crowd watching something. When I walked over, I saw they we're watching a juggler, juggling 2, 3, or 4 balls to instruments of songs like Stevie Wonder's Sir Duke and some Italian sounding songs. I noticed people of all ages tended to watch.


Then a bit off in the distance, as it was getting dark, was a large stage with about a few hundred folding chairs. I decided to sit down to rest my feet and read some of the maps and travel literature I had. After about 1/2 an hour-the surrounding seats began to fill up, and a quartet of jugglers got on stage, who juggled to a dance beat-it was mildly entertaining.


Then a set of drummers got on state, and drummed to a real fast beat-it was wild and the crowd went wild.


A singer sang a few songs, and a Kenny G like saxophonist got up and did a few songs, in Korean I guess because I couldn't understand the words and never heard the songs.


After Kenny G, which the crowd loved, and was really entertaining-we we're directed to look towards the ocean. A Laser light show went off from some barge parked off sea, which was cool, and then a fabulous fireworks show.


It was a good day, then I went back to the hostel and went to sleep.

Posted by DavidPearlman 06:03 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Jeju Buses Cuckoo David

During my time on Jeju Island, I took the busses often. This is unavoidable to see the sights, unless you have the money, time and inclination for a rental car, taxi, and/or private driver.

Less than a year ago, the bus schedule was re-arranged, and bus routes we're redone (from what I was told), so the bus system could be more efficient and less confusing. The only issue is that since a lot of folks don't speak English, I have been relying on Google to find correct information on the busses, and a lot of that information is obsolete. So I have spent time waiting for busses that didn't arrive, and we're never going to, and talked to a lot of well-intentioned folks sending me to the wrong place.

The busses themselves are like most city busses I have taken-pretty stinky.

(1) They stink literally-for the most part, there is a strange stench.
(2) Uncomfortable, sort of hard seats
(3) A TV screen appears behind the driver, which shows different things:
(A) Stops (including unusual ones, and there we're always lots of stops to get where I was going).

(B) An endless loop of videos (without sound), namely:
(1) An "I love Jeju" video, which went on for about 3 minutes-with 5 singers dancing around the splendor of the island

(2) A public service announcement, I guess, about teaching kids to read, and showing the elderly woman drivers tutoring little girls. (again, I'm not sure, the language is Korean and there is no sound.

(3) An animation short instructing kids to stay off the road, in case the bus in coming

(4) Probably the most annoying-another video of a well-dressed man who is so excited to take the bus he is dancing and showing his excitment for the bus

Over and over again, for the week I was here-while making sure I didn't miss my stop.

Posted by DavidPearlman 15:20 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

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