After spending a few days in Seoul, Andrew and I packed up our bags and headed down to Busan, which is the second largest city in South Korea and on the southern tip of the peninsula.
We got an early start in the morning, but with enough time to grab some of our favorite Korean-Western breakfast.
We took the metro to Seoul Station to catch our high speed train from Seoul to Busan. After wandering around the station for a while because I can’t read signs, we finally found the terminal, walked up to the ticket counter, and hoped that I had made the train reservations correctly.
Turns out I did! We were a little early so we had plenty of time to find the right track before our train even got to the station. When it arrived, a rush of people appeared out of nowhere to board the train.
I wanted to stay awake and enjoy the scenery for the 2 hour and 45 minute ride, but like in all moving vehicles, it didn’t take long for me to fall asleep. I woke up a few stops before we pulled into Busan Station.
As we walked out from the station our first thoughts were on lunch. We knew basically nothing about Busan so we just started wandering around until we saw something that looked good. Apparently Busan has a decent amount of Russian sailors come through so we ended up stopping at a restaurant that only had four things on the menu and the entire menu was in English, Korean, Chinese, and Russian. I was a little skeptical at first, but the place filled up as we were eating.
I had dongchimiguksu which is a cold noodle soup. Like, there were literally ice cubes in my soup. Andrew had a hot noodle dish that was way spicier than mine. My meal was refreshing, but I thought Andrew’s had more flavor.
After lunch we found our way to our Airbnb. After a little confusion, we managed to find our way into the apartment and dump our stuff. By then it was only early afternoon, so we had time to go sightsee. After a quick ride on the metro and a much less quick ride on a bus, we ended up at the Haedong Yonggung Temple. (The swastika is a very common Buddhist symbol and at all the temples we saw, it was oriented in the opposite direction from the one the Nazis used.)
I had read that this temple was a must-see because of its location right on the edge of the water.
When we got there it was a little bit of a walk to the actual temple itself and while it was certainly beautiful, I think some of the effect was lost by the hoards of tourists and tacky vendors filling the paths to the temple.
We walked around for a while and sat by the water before deciding to head back to the city. As we walked through the stalls, we stopped to get a few snacks. A lady was baking these fresh and the smell was amazing. Turns out they are little red bean paste filled donuts and they were so good.
People kept walking by us with these little round pancake looking things in cups, so we decided to get one of those too. Hotteok are fried pancakes filled with brown sugar, honey, and then stuffed with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or other good stuff.
And because that wasn’t enough, we also stopped to get some smoothies. I got a chocolate smoothie (uh, duh) and and Andrew got a sweet potato smoothie…which tasted like drinking a liquid sweet potato.
We then took the bus back to Busan, which dropped us off right by Haeundae Beach which is an extremely popular and well-known beach in Korea. It was cooling off and the sun was setting as we got there so the beach was pretty empty. Empty enough to do handstands at least.
We also stumbled onto some sort of Korean pop dance competition?
Haeundae Beach was crowded and full of foreigners. It reminded me of our typical beach town, except that it was bigger and more metropolitan than the sleepy beach towns we’re used to in the US.
By the time the sun set, it had also started to rain, so we decided to go and try to find some dinner. I had read that Busan was famous for its dwaeji gukbap which is a pork soup with rice. Some internet searching told us that 48-nyeon Jeontong Haeundae Wonjo Halmae Gukbap (The Original 48-year-old Traditional Haeundae Granny Gukbap) was the place to go. So when we stumbled upon it through the raindrops, we took cover for some warm soup.
I really liked the soup. It was flavorful, warm, and filling. Andrew thought it was a little too hot out to be eating soup, but it hit the spot for me. It was a good ending to a long day.