A turtle travels only when it sticks its neck out ~Korean Proverb




Finally, we visited Busan. It was the week after the International Film Festival, but nevertheless the city was fantastic. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Busan, it is the second largest city in Korea and is located on the Southeastern tip of the country. We took the cheap train from Seoul, thus it was nearly a 6 hour transit. Of course nothing in Korea is complete without alcohol…and the train was no exception. About every 30 minutes a man would walk down the aisle with food and drinks, and our group of international students would faithfully drain his supply of the latter. As I do not agree with drinking on public transportation, I refrained…and slept for much of the trip.

On train...forever

After arriving in Busan station, we moved out to find a place to eat and sleep. We broke into two groups; one charged with finding cheap accommodations and the other with finding a place to eat. My group, the housing regiment, quickly found a cheap motel near the train station which could house all 8 of us for 70,000 won a night. That’s about 9 USD a person/night. Our group did awesome. When we met up again we decided to go to Jagalchi Fish market…the largest fish market in South Korea. It’s specialty is hwe, or sashimi as westerners often call it. We walked around and looked at all the live fish and eventually picked out our lunch. The way it works is there are 40 or 50 fish vendors in the main fish market building and they all have these stands set up with fish. You look around and pick a vendor with the fish you like and then start to point out the things you want to eat. They pull the fish out of the buckets or baskets and cut them up for you to eat raw. It was fantastic. We have raw flounder, sea urchin, abalone, and squid. Also, we had live shrimp and octopus. I really liked eating the live food because they were still moving around as we chewed it. Most of the folks hated it…however my Japanese friend Erika and I were delighted. Apparently the live octopus, known as san nakchi, can be dangerous because it can stick to your throat as you swallow. There are stories of people choking and dying. Pretty exciting J

Fish Market

Matti waiting like 20 minutes to eat this live shrimp

Sea Urchin

Live Octopus

After the fish market, many people were still hungry. Namely, the Finnish guys: Lauri and Matti; the Dutch guys: Marten and Nico; my other Japanese friend Mari; and my American cohort Jessica. We went to a Lotteria near the market and Erika and I sat around while they ate. Afterwards we split up into two groups. One group went back to the motel to sleep (because they had not slept on the train), and the other group (my group) went shopping in a nearby market district. We didn’t buy anything, but we had a fun time looking around. The only real difference between Seoul markets and Busan markets is that Busan markets smell like fish from the sea, and Seoul markets smell like a bathroom.

Market Photos

We met up again later that night and went for some non-sea food at a restaurant near our living quarters. After dinner we tried to find a bar or some place to go to and ended up at this restaurant that was rented out by some Korean company for an annual party. Normally we would not be allowed in, but they asked us to join them. They gave us free drinks and food and we danced and sang Karaoke with about 20 middle-aged Korean businessmen and women. Afterwards we eventually made our way back to the motel and slept.

View from window of motel

View of Mari, inside of motel

The next morning we decided to go to the beautiful Songdo beach along the eastern coast in Busan. It is the closest beach to the inner city and was about a 10 minute Taxi drive from our living quarters. The weather was a bit cool, so we did not go in the water much. However the beach was very peaceful and it was nice to finally see ocean again. As you’ll see in the pictures, Songdo beach is nothing like the Jersey Shore so save your mental images until later. While at Songdo beach we also had a great seafood lunch while overlooking the ocean. It was extremely good…and very traditional. Eventually, we left the beach and headed towards Busan tower. It is the largest building in the city and overlooks much of Busan, in every direction.

Songdo Coast

Songdo Beach

View of Busan at dawn from Busan Tower

View of Busan at night from Busan Tower

After Busan tower, we walked around Nampodong and went to eat dinner. We had a great time that night, and eventually ended up in a noraebang…and as usual I was made to sing Born in the USA for my foreign friends. Nothing is better than singing the line “…kill the yellow man” at the top of your lungs in a Noraebang with many Asians...and having them sing with you!

Nico sleeping, and Mari singing

The next morning we made our way to the train station early to buy our tickets. Unfortunately they were sold out of return tickets to Seoul at all the reasonable hours…so we had to buy tickets that left at 9:00 pm and returned to Seoul around 3:00 am… -_- After buying our tickets our group boarded a bus for Taejongdae…one of the southernmost points in all of South Korea. Thanks to a friendly taxi cab driver we found a bay where we could ride on a boat and see the shoreline. Afterwards, Nico and Marten had to leave to attend a Dutch conference at their embassy. After walking around Taejongdae for a place to eat we concluded that maybe it wasn’t the best town to get a good meal, so we took the bus back to the mainland area and ate there. Afterwards we walked to the train station, met Nico and Marten, and then returned home. I got back to my dorm at 3:30 Monday morning. Needless to say, I skipped class that day.

Out on the boat - outdoor restaurant on an outcropping

Taejongdae before sunset

Me at Taejongdae shore at sunset

The road back towards the train station...70 km/h of course


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yumm octopus haha. Recently I ate fried octopus in a nearby Greek restaurant with Rich. He came to visit for 6 days..he just left a few hours ago ><. When are you returning back to the US?

12:21 pm

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5:04 pm

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