Published: June 29th 2012June 29th 2012
with BEXCO background
Today is my last day in Busan so I should have made it count. I am not saying that I didn't but rather that things adjust depending on circumstances. I was not necessarily going to run all over the place but I had hoped to get down to the docks area and have a bit of a look down there. But I wandered off and got a bit diverted elsewhere -- such is the erratic nature of travel however (not to mention doing a blog and not getting out of the hotel until lunchtime of course).
Perhaps the main reason I have been somewhat down on Busan is probably because of the somewhat jaundiced and negative view that the Lonely Planet generally takes to it. I somewhat belatedly had a look l ate todayat what the Frommers said on Busan. It was rather more balanced and although it tends to have a rather annoying American focus (where the American Express office is, that sort of thing), it actually had more general stuff on the city than the LP did. Regardless of that I decided that the first thing I would do would be to head towards the Museum of Modern
David LaChappelle in Busan
mini poster for exhibition
Art only 3 subway stops away. This was something that the LP was quite dismissive of, describing it as only worthwhile on a rainy day in typhoon season. Look modern Korean painting might not be your cup of cha but at least a visit here might give you an overall view in general rather than having to visit multiple single artist exhibitions in Seoul etc. The building is quite large and there is certainly lots of space there. I took a refreshment break of a very fluffy cappuccino and a brownie in the cafe before searching for the David LaChapelle exhibition at the convention centre BEXCO.
The girl at the Museum gave me wrong directions to BEXCO1 which was across the road , but it was actually in BEXCO2 on the same side of the road as the Museum. If you are not aware of Mr LaChappelle's work the attached picture postcard might give you the general drift. They are generally very stage managed photographs with a certain amount of Photoshop involved somewhere, and often involving pop celebs (like that Paris Hilton slapper etc). Although I had bought a very large book of his photographs in Paris last year,
from Gwangalli Beach
fortunately almost all of these were not in the book (otherwise I would have been concerned to the extent that the rather steep $10 entry fee was lining Mr LaChapelle's pockets at the expense of mine). It was well worth the money, although it was definitely steep from a Korean point of view.
From there decided to head down a few subway stops to Gwangalli Beach, not so much for the beach (although I had optimistically taken my swimmers but it had become quite overcast by that stage) but perhaps more to see the Gwangan Bridge which crosses the bay there. That is a double deck suspension bridge, the longest in Korea apparently. By the looks of it each deck is one way. Although the beach is completely ringed by high-rise, as is Haeundae, it nevertheless seemed more interesting. The entire beachfront is virtually one coffee shop after another, not to mention bars called things like the Fuzzy Navel?? Although I had been intending to push on further I decided that by the time I did that I would be spending most of the time before dusk getting there on the subway, so decided to hang around at Gwangalli.
Despite the preponderance of coffee shops and beer joints there was not so much of the kind of eating places I might have been after. The language problem is always a barrier unless they have pictures of food with prices, which generally few have. I finally wandered into one place which looked quite elegant but as their set menu started at 50,000Krw ($45), and went up from there, decided to give it a miss.
However I finally ended up in one of those copper chimney BBQ grill places. Once again with not much idea what sort of food they did but I could see from the sticker on each of the tables that the prices ranged from 15,000 up to 45,000Krw so at least I had an idea of the potential damage . A guy explained in English that the shellfish combo was 35,000 ($31), they took credit cards (I am naturally running out of cash) so I was away . So what did I get for my money? (To be grilled on a grill set over redhot charcoal). Well: 10 scallops on the half shell, 2 green prawns, a mix of seafood in one of those giant razor
Gwangalli Beach seaweed
and collectors (hope it's safe)
clam etc shells, then a thickish bacon like strip of pork, a meat sausage, and last but not least what turned out to be a cuttlefish wrapped in foil. I was somewhat surprised by the meaty bits and thought the foil wrapped thing was also meaty until it was opened. Strangely enough there were really no real side dishes (no kimchi to be seen - a Korean first!) or even things like salad leaves to wrap this in. However overall it was pretty good and the highish price is what you pay for being beachside.
So my general impression of Busan improved somewhat under the influence of some good food and location. Interestingly enough when I returned to Haeundae, it being 10:30 PM on a Friday night, there appeared to be no foreigners in the main street running down from the subway towards my hotel. Compare this to the daytime shots I took yesterday when the place was full of whities with tatts. This may have given me an unnecessarily negative view of the area. Gwangalli appeared to be mercifully gweilo free. I have only had three days here in Busan, whereas I had virtually 2 whole weeks to
& hirise complex
more or less explore Seoul. One simply has to adjust one's time frame to the time you have and of course, never expect to see everything in that time!
There are more photos below