Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Weekend in Busan!

It's a squid! 

We just back from a wonderful 4 day trip to the city of Busan, the 2nd largest city in Korea! And for good reason! It’s huge! 4 days was not enough time to see it all, but we did explore as much as we could and experienced some great things!
At the bus terminal we found a fun activity! ;)

On the day we arrived it was a beautiful sunny day! It took us a while to find our hotel (even taxi drivers had a hard time figuring it out!) but after getting settled we made an attempt to find the lantern festival that was beginning that evening!

A very hard to find hotel, but it was worth staying here! 

We went out at night and our extremely hospitable, english speaking hotel staff member even walked us out to the main road to get a taxi and explained to him where we wanted to go! Unfortunately, no lanterns were found. But we did accidentally run into the opening ceremony concert where various performers were singing and dancing! That was very entertaining!
In the beginning of the hunt to find the lanterns! 

Colorful radio tower!

Random concert in the park! 

We stayed and watched some!

The next day was another beautiful sunny day! We were ready to explore with our shorts, flip flops, and sunglasses! We first went to Taejongdae Park, located on the tip of the “island” of Yeongdo-gu. We took about a hour walk around this island getting many beautiful views of the cliffs and the water! We were glad we did this in the morning as it wasn’t too hot yet! We did realize at this point that flip flops were NOT a preferred choice of footwear for the day and the blisters started to form. It turns out that all those years of my dad insisting I wear tennis shoes on our vacations was actually the best decision. Good thinking Dad, I think I learned my lesson for next time! ;)

We then took a 15 minute taxi ride to Gwangalli Beach! We had a very American lunch including a cheeseburger and chicken caesar salad while sitting out on the deck with a view of the beach! Tyler was smart and went to the local CU store to buy some sunscreen as we were sitting directly in the sun. After lunch we walked along the beach enjoying the view of the bridge!


Life jackets anyone?

After that we taxied over to Haeundae beach, the typical “tourist” beach of Busan. From what we experienced, beach culture in Korea is a little different. We only saw a few people in bathing suites and all of them were foreigners. The kids playing in the water were either in their full cloths or in a swim shirt and swim trunks. Parents brought giant beach tents for their kids to sit in and almost everyone on the beach was pretty well covered from head to toe! Now, obviously it isn’t quite beach season yet, and we do know that when it is, Haeundae beach is covered with rentable beach umbrellas and beach mats, and of course, people everywhere. But that was not our experience this time, and we’re kinda thankful for that! ;)  One really cool thing about Haeundae was the foot washing station. When your ready to put your shoes back on, you simply step in the many foot pools, wash the sand off, and be on your way! Tyler really appreciated this part!

We laid out near the ocean for a while but because we didn’t bring our own beach towels, (and there are NO stores that sell beach towels there) we weren’t out for too long! However…..it was entirely long enough to get bad sunburns….why you ask? Well the sunscreen we had purchased was apparently over a year expired and was not as effective as we would have liked. :( But we had more to explore, so with blistered feet and sunburned skin, we continued on to our next location!

We took another taxi ride to Haedong Yongunsa Temple, located on the cliffs of the eastern part of Busan. It was a beautiful temple, but SO busy. To get out to the temple we had to walk single file down a narrow path with everyone. So I took the opportunity to get some fresh hotteok, a korean street food, for the walk out. It’s like a delicious pancake filled with cinnamon, seeds, and nuts. We took some photos, saw what we wanted and made the trek back. We had quite the time getting back to our hotel from this location though. Since there were so many people there, everyone wanted to taxi back to the more popular parts of Busan, but there were very limited taxis. So our other option was to take a city bus back. But the bus stops were filled with people, and after waiting for over 20 minutes for a bus, we decided to walk to the Lotte Mall down the road and see if there was a faster way to get back. Nope. We had to walk back to the bus stop and wait for the next bus. And boy was that bus packed! We were squashed like sardines on the 30 minute ride from the temple to the closest subway station. From there we took the subway back to the location of our hotel and we were very thankful to finally get back, rest our feet and put aloe on our skin. ;) It was a long, but very adventurous day!

The hotteok ladies! 

The next day was as rainy as Portland, OR gets! We had a late morning and enjoyed resting in our room and watching some TV (it was our weekend afterall!). Then we went out to brave the rain and explore a bit more. We walked around some popular areas of Busan which had some fun shops, street food vendors, and what not. One area that was interesting was called BIFF Square, the movie district of Busan. They host international film festivals and many other events  in this area.

Fried squid on a stick! A very popular street snack!

BIFF Square!

The best part of the day.....

Strawberry, Banana, Nutella CREPE! :D

We wouldn't go on this ride if you paid us, but it's entertaining to watch!

We found a giant arcade that night! Cheap entertainment! ;)

On our last day we went to the Busan Tower! I, personally, love going to towers because you get great views from up high! The Busan tower was nice, but not as fun or exciting as the Seoul Tower. ;) The most entertaining part was watching the crowds of Koreans lining up at the windows to get a view of the bridge raising up in the distance...people were literally recording this bridge on their iPads and smartphones. ;)

Interesting street art on the way up to the tower! 

The amazing bridge! 

Overall we are so glad we got to visit Busan, and especially loved seeing the ocean for the first time in months! Even with a few hiccups along the way, it made for even more of an adventure and we had a lot of fun!

Also.....to go along with our last blog post about hiking....here is the video! ;)

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