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Published: January 3rd 2011
After arrival at Busan train station, looking towards the green hill that is Gubongsan peak, I dragged myself plus luggage by subway to Jungang
station where I checked in at a guest house. For 30.000 Won I had a double bed and bathroom in a creaky old room with views on the local 7-11 corner store and in spitting distance of the subway station.
Of course I headed straight to the beach after dropping my bags, as temperatures were around the 30-ies those days. I opted for Gwangalli beach
as my first beach, a wide and moon shaped beach with towering office blocks and hotels behind it, and a view of the Gwangan bridge in front. I spent the afternoon staring at this mini- zeppelin that wasn't tethered to anything, instead it seemed to be radio controlled and powered by a small turbine at the back, hoovering above the beach showing off its marketing purpose. After a shower back at the guest house it was late and I was hungry, so walked south-west to the Gukje Market
area. After a pork chop meal, a bit of window shopping and mesmerizing at the size of the worlds largest
shopping mall I took to bed watching one of the many American war movies shown each night on many of the Korean TV channels.
An early morning, a take-away breakfast from a corner store consisting of iced coffee and bread rolls, I strolled up to Yongdusan park
and the Busan tower. The tower wasn't open yet, it was that early, and the price for the view was too high for my liking anyway, so crossed over to the Daechong park
with its monument commemorating the soldiers lost during the Korean war between 1950 - 1953. A large concrete dome stands in the middle, surrounded by tall pillars supporting what seems like a crown. Inside the dome, along the wall are written hundreds if not thousands of names of fallen soldiers...
Opposite the Daechong park is situated what is called the Democracy park, from where the views over Busan looking towards the harbour are fantastic!
Back down below, first taking the underground to Jagalchi station
, where after I got on a bus to Songdo beach
, a much more pleasant beach I have to say, not too much build-up right behind the beach and less crowded as well. I spent
most of another enjoyable, warm spring afternoon here, protecting my eyes from time to time from the sun reflecting on the many metal dolphin statues in the bay. For a little fitness, I walked the full Songdo coastal walk, a walkway that follows the coastline west, partly elevated on stilts, partly resting on the grand boulders strewn along the waterline. Watching fishermen catch nothing, loing couples hand in hand and of course the views again... This time looking towards Yeongdo island
, connecting the mainland by its 3 main bridges.
After my experience in Seoul at the fish market I couldn't resist another visit at one, so on the way back I walked through the Jagalchi fish market, the second largest in the country.Of course, this being the second time, it all impressed me a little less than the first time. There seemed to be a larger array of bottom feeders, the flat kind of fish that looks like it's been sat on by a huge whale or been squeezed between a cruise ship and the harbour wall.
For dinner I had decided I wanted something special, something unique, something really Korean. (no, not a bottom feeder), so after a
good scrub I headed to the Beomildong area
where I found a great Yukhoe
restaurant. A little apprehensive at first, I mixed the most spectacular looking side dish I've ever seen, consisting of oil, a variety of spices and some herbs and a separate egg yolk with the beef. And I'll tell you; IT WAS DELICIOUS!!
Really good! Accompanied by a beef broth, Kimchi and other sour, pickled veggies, a bowl of rice, a bowl of crunchy black seaweed and of course a cold beer I truly enjoyed this meal. Never thought raw meat could taste this great!
Beomildong seemed to be the hip place to be in town seeing all the young crowds queuing up for restaurants, bars and clubs. I saw loads of theme styled establishments which looked to be the most happening places at the same time. I even saw a totally in wood panelled 'saloon' looking bar.
Completely satisfied, I retired with a few beers to the room where I watched another war flick...
Aiya, too late out of bed. Probably dreamt of bombs, guns, grenades and more bombs creating havoc on my tiny little city beach while I was lying there in my kinky
swimwear... Stupid movies! Should've just watched the documentary on the sexual life of a butterfly that was on the other channel (in Korean). Dunno what I would've dreamt about then...
Taking the subway to Oncheonchang station
, I took the cable car up Geumjeongsan
after walking through Geumgang park. The view from the cable car, despite the haze, was truly stunning!
The valley in which Busan lies, the ocean behind it and the green hills in every other direction. Really amazing!
At first the hike was mainly on flat ground, near ponds, through the forest and low hills.
After an hour or so the hike up the peak started, moving through rocky landscape. Just like the hike north of Seoul, I was mainly joined on this hike by middle aged, well dressed couples with walking sticks.
The final push to the top was fairly tough I admit. Geumjeongsan is not only the national park, the old fortress and wall on the mountain share the same name.
Parts of the wall are still very visible and well kept (read: restored) and continued meandering up the mountain as did the track alongside it. From the guidebook as well as from a leaflet I
had picked up, I learned that just below the top, on the way back down was a rock pool, a rocky outcrop with a pool at the top. It was quite a bit of a search through dense undergrowth since I had lost the path there (if there was one). I finally reached a large rock overlooking the forest, around which I climbed and there it was... the rock pool! Well, really the only thing it was, a little residue of rainwater in a small hole with a diameter of 30 cm... Hmmm... the stuff they put on these leaflets nowadays to make a already great national park look even better with loads of exciting attractions... and the weirdo's that actually take the effort of looking for these so-called beauty spots!! Guess I had just joined the crowds...
Back down I took the subway back into the city where I had another short stroll around the guest house area. With a plastic 2 litre bottle of beer (?!), blisters on the soles of my feet, a camera full of great vista's and tired as f*ck, I retired for the my last (proper) night in South Korea watching English TV...
My very last day, I had decided ages ago already, was gonna be on the beach... and what a perfect day it was to do just that! 30 degree heat, I walked off the subway onto Haeundae beach
at 8 a.m. sharp! I spent every possible minute lying in the sun, soaking up those rays, listening to the soft roar of the waves and getting slightly tipsy on cheap beer and soju
before I had to go back to work in Inner Mongolia. A few funny things happened to me; first a girl from Pohang chatted me up, talking to me for ages and ages, later a foreign dude passed by with a thong up his butt cr*ck... OMG, you should've seen the faces on the Koreans! What a fool to be walking on the beach like that in an Asian country, absolutely everybody stared and laughed at him. When it came to 4 o'clock I reluctantly put my clothes back on and went back to the guest house. After a quick shower and some final packing it was time to get to Busan airport (bus and taxi) to take my Korean Air flight to Seoul Gimpo.
went well, the super neat rail system that brought me back to Incheon airport as well, so before I knew it, I had chosen my favourite bench in terminal 1 where I and my Soju friends settled in for the night. Of course, with headphones playing my favourite tunes and contemplating my 10 day holiday, it took some time before I finally slept...
The next morning... well, I overslept... Just hadn't heard my phone ringing, or it was my soju friend that didn't want me to wake up.... anywayz, I got to the China Southern desk 10 minutes too late... There was no budging on their side even after countless tries of begging, pleading etc. I had to go downstairs and buy myself a new ticket.... Aiya, luckily I had money left, and it was expensive! I bought a ticket on Asiana 3 hours later at around 10-ish.
This bloody plane, as had the China Southern at the start of my trip, stayed on the tarmac after its supposed take off time. This time though we were given a reason, being a thunderstorm in Beijing. I was thinking of my earlier flight I had missed and was wondering if
that one actually had left... Breakfast was given still on the tarmac, and it wasn't until an hour after that we finally took off. I played bookworm basically the whole time and didn't notice that we had been circling above the Bohai sea for a while when the captain announced we were flying back to Seoul (!!!) Wow, heck of a thunderstorm that was! When we landed we had been flying 3 hours on a flight that was supposed to have taken 1.5 hours! Great Asiana airlines though, gave every passenger a voucher worth 10.000 W which I spent on a great sushi dish. It wasn't until 7 p.m. before we took off again, and even that late I still noticed lightning around the plane just before landing at Beijing. Freak thunderstorm, to just hang above Beijing for a day...?!
Of course I had missed my plane to Baotou by then, so I needed a new ticket. Unfortunately terminal 3 was absolute mayhem, and the cue's were long... After travelling to terminal 1 where I just missed a delayed flight to Baotou, I went back to 3. There I heard there wouldn't be a flight until 2 days later! Stressed,
tired after a days travelling and wanting to just go home, the only option I had left was either a train or bus. I took a bus to Beijing West station where immediately I got picked up by a bus scout. He assured me no trains left anymore but he had a seat left for me on a sleeper bus... I couldn't care less any more, so willingly followed him, patiently waited in a minivan for nearly an hour at Beijing West and asked no questions when we finally drove off to I dunno where. A half an hour trip or so brought me to one of the ring roads around the capital where after (again) some waiting a sleeper bus pulled up. Suddenly the minivan driver demanded a price three times of what he asked of the other Chinese with me, which I refused and with him pulling my clothes and shouting me deaf I blindly stepped into the bus (after taking off my shoes!) dropped myself on a bed and didn't move a msucle until the idiot left... aarrgghh....!!
Well, and that was it. It cost me another holiDAY,for not showing up in time for classes, but
hey, it was well worth it.
I absolutely love vibrant Korea!!! May the time I can visit again come soon!!!
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