This blog entry is about mine and Jessa’s brief stint in Busan this weekend.
Unfortunately we both had to get up on Saturday morning with little sleep, as we’d been in the ER until around midnight (the only place to be seen on a Friday night..Jessa’s ear was really bothering her), and I’d gone back home to pack before we went to Jessa’s place…by the time we went to bed it was already 2am on Saturday. So we weren’t off to the best start anyway. We decided to get breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, because I love that place and Jessa suggested we get our first meal of the day from there. As I was the one who had purchased the tickets, I should have remembered that we had to get our tickets at the counter before we could hop on the train. (D’oh!) If we were already familiar with where trains leave from, and we’d remembered to get our tickets at the counter, and if we had left earlier, we would have made the train. As it was, we didn’t make it, and we had to buy standing-only tickets at the counter. These were about half the price of normal tickets, and for good reason. It stinks to be standing for a 4-hour train ride!! We sat down in the middle of the aisle, which helped us not have to stand the whole time, but led to some neck cramping when we tried to sleep on the way there. Note to all: Give yourself plenty of time when getting your tickets printed out the morning you are set to depart on KTX!
We finally got to our hostel later that evening, we were pretty worn out. Our hostel’s name was Chan’s Guesthouse. (It was great, I definitely recommend it!) We unloaded everything and ultimately decided not to go to the really huge Jimjilbang (Sauna) we had heard about, once we had heard it was far away. We went into SpaLand, located inside “The world’s largest department store” (a Shinsegae) and there I got a body scrub. If you have the chance to come to Korea, go to a sauna and get a body scrub! You would not believe all the dead skin you have on your body. (Then again, I never use a super tough loofah…I just use those body wash things)
That night Jessa was able to go straight to sleep, while for whatever reason I was so tired that every person coming in woke me up or interrupted what little going to sleep I was doing. I didn’t sleep very well. Our alarm was set for 7, but I got up around 6:45 since I kept waking up. On the website it was advertised that there were 8 beds, which I took to mean 8 people, but our room was actually a 10 bed room. One bed was unoccupied I think, so the difference wasn’t really *that* great. The breakfast consisted of cereal, bread with jars of jam and peanut butter, and eggs. It was a do-it-yourself breakfast. I was impressed that food was provided, as the hostel I will be staying at in August will not have a breakfast.
Here are some pictures of our hostel, by the way. It was a cool place. There was no option for a single room as far as I knew. There was a co-ed room with 4 beds, and then the girls only room with 10 beds. We unfortunately didn’t get to talk to the host much, but apparently he’s been to India and can play the sitar.
We set out, our main goals being to visit the Busan Aquariam, lay out on the beach, and visit Yonggungsa Temple. There was a sand creations competition going on, and we got to see this interesting sculpture with King Sejong the great as the inspiration. There were a few others, the majority still in progress. We walked along the ocean path around Haeundae beach, and saw an interesting Mermaid statue. I was dragging behind Jessa, who was trying to perk me up with various camp songs. I livened up a bit after we bought popsicles from a man selling them from a ice box. Then since I was hungry, we both got snacks too. I love Tteokbokki, but the kind I got next to the beach wasn’t as good as the kind I once got next to Jessa’s place.
Next, we spent some time looking for towels. Neither of us had brought a beach towel, and I didn’t even own one in Korea. You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find a beach towel! In Korea, people spend more time trying to not get sun rather than trying to get a tan. I’ve seen sunscreens that are supposed to help whiten your face in addition to protecting you from UV rays. Once we finally found our towels, we spent several hours getting our sun on at Haeundae Beach. I highly recommend going in late May when we went, as the beach was not nearly as crowded as the photos I have seen that must depict beach life later in the summer. As it was, the ocean was ice cold. I can see why there were mainly crazy foreigners attempting to swim in it. There was even this guy on a jet-ski who I assume was the lifeguard, blowing a whistle if you swam too far out! There were numerous families who had brought tents with mesh sides…yeah!! It was so funny to look at people sitting inside their tents on the beach. Korea is a great place if you’ve got a sense of humor 😉
After we’d had our fill of sunlight, we went and got dinner at a place called Fuzzy Navel. The food wasn’t bad, but it took a long time to arrive for Jessa, and my burrito was just fair. But I wasn’t feeling Indian food the way Jessa was, and we both just wanted to eat. They weren’t bad, though. Next on our agenda was the Busan Aquarium.
The Busan Aquarium is a pretty decent one, but I didn’t fully enjoy the experience, mainly because it was SO CROWDED. It could have been worse…and certainly thinned out a bit as we went along, but the first level was a nightmare. In my opinion, an aquarium is a leisurely experience…and it isn’t if you’re trying to get a view of the such and such animal but you have to wait to even get a glimpse of it. Anyway, my favorite exhibits were the Jellyfish (soooo cool!!) and the Garden Eels. I filmed a short video on my camera, that’s how much I liked them! I think they are maybe the coolest animals ever. There was also a very nice Great White Shark tank in the aquarium as well.
Our last stop was Yonggungsa Temple. This was a neat experience, but the bus ride we could have done without. Fortunately we were standing next to a couple who got off after the first stop. From Haeundae subway stop, the bus takes about 30 minutes to get there. We followed the crowd in. Because this the weekend of Buddha’s birthday, the whole pathway (and much of the country) was decked out in paper lanterns, some which appeared to have been dedicated to someone (or Buddha?) by loyal followers or something like that. Built in the rocky ground next to the ocean, the Temple has an serene appearance that was made to look playful with all the lanterns which we saw. We took some pictures alongside all the camera enthusiasts with their tripods. As day became night, we headed back up the stairs and back to our hostel.
I had a great time! (And for the record, we made our train back…so we had seats this time!!)