Friday, 14 June 2013

Discovering South Korea: Busan!

So, my boyfriend, Gilbert, has recently finish his university education, and we decided to embark on a journey to South Korea for his graduation trip! I think for me, this is my Nth graduation trip. I've been to a few countries, after my last exams (Thailand), after my graduation ceremony (Vietnam), and now, after Gilbert's exams, to KOREA!

We visited 3 cities, Busan, Jeju and Seoul, which I will blog about in different entries. We did a lot of activities, ate a lot of awesome Korean food, so I might break the post up into different days to shorten the length of the posts.

If you're interested in my planned itinerary, please click here. Also, I have uploaded a PDF file with the rough estimate of my travel costs! Please note, I spent almost ALL my money. :(

Date of Travel: 19-20th May

Pusan Inn Motel

Pusan Inn Motel

Address: 1200-14, ChoRang Dong, Dong Gu
Tel: +82 514635505

Don't believe whatever directions the website says. We got quite lost trying to find the motel. Website says, "take Exit 10 and facing Starbucks..." But when we came out from Exit 10, there was no Starbucks in sight! & because we did not know which direction to walk to, we went back down into the station and asked for help, they couldn't really understand us, nor we them, and what we understood was to take Exit 10 again.

So, we just went out and walked towards our gut feeling, and about 50m away (blocked by trees and a bus stop), we saw Starbucks and eventually found our way to the Motel.

You don't expect much from a motel, considering the amount we are paying. There were no lifts in the building, and we stayed on the 3rd level. If you have difficulty climbing or have old folks or children I wouldn't advice you to stay here. The rooms were clean, a computer inside the room, and apparently, the air conditioner was not working. It was fine, because Busan was still cooling and we just opened the windows and turned on the fan.

When we checked in, the guy at the reception, just looked at our booking printout and handed us the keys. Just like that. No greetings, no checking of identity, only just a grunt to which level our room was. So, if you're a fugitive, this is a great place for you!

Pusan Inn Lobby
Jokes aside, if you just need a place where it's close to the Subway, clean, cheap and just a place to sleep and shower, this is probably the place to go. Besides the disgruntled guy at reception, I thought the location was very convenient! In the heart of Busan and close to everything!

Jagalchi Fish Market

Jagalchi Market
 To me, Busan is like a port, a place where seafood is freshest (maybe San Francisco of South Korea?). One of their famous attraction is the Jagalchi Market where they sold the day's catch. You can find anything from the sea here! From cockles as big as your thumb, to moving octopus, seaweed, and even crabs and lobsters!
Pork Skin
We were just walking around, and we thought this was cuttlefish mixed with Kimchi Paste, and so, we ordered it. It turned out to be Pork Skin mixed with Kimchi Paste. I could feel my arteries clogging. It cost us 5,000Won and it comes on a hotplate with seaweed, garlic, onions and chili. I just told myself it's full of collagen and it's good for my skin. Taste wise, it's alright.

Fresh Baby Eel
 Next, we continued walking and we saw this Ajuma skinning a live eel!

Similar to the Pork Skin, the live eels were washed, seasoned and placed on a hot bbq plate together with onions and other condiments. It's crunchy and oh do delicious! The hotplate of eels costs us 30,000Won!

Live Octopus, Sea Urchin & Seafood Soup
 In Jagalchi Market, there's the outdoor area and indoor area. For the Pork Skin and Live Eel, we ate outdoors and afterwards, we proceeded inside the building to continue our eating spree. This time, we had:
  • Live octopus - 20,000Won
  • Sea Urchin - 20,000Won (5pcs)
  • Seafood Soup - 40,000 

The plate of live octopus was probably only 2 tentacles (from what the Ajuma showed me), she chopped it up, sprinkled with sesame oil, soya sauce and sesame seeds. It was still moving even though it was chopped up! The suckers still sucked to my tongue and inside of my cheek, but it could be easily removed with the flick of the tongue. 

I don't really like sea urchins, it's tooooo fishy for my liking and I had to put soya sauce and wasabi to mask a little of the fishiness. The insides were a little jelly like, and the experience wasn't very pleasant. I only had 1 half, and gave the rest to Gilbert.

Now, the seafood soup is the best! The broth is very rich and thick and the soup contains all kinds of seafood! From a clam that was the size of my palm, to huge prawns, scallops, clams, etc! We regretted eating so many things before drinking this soup, as it is really fantastic.

Jetty by Jagalchi Market
As I've mentioned before, Busan is a sea port city, and Jagalchi Market is just facing the jetty/sea too! After eating all the wonderful food, we went to the jetty for some fresh air and photo taking. Gilbert really loved the scenery behind us with all the ships and landscape. There were street performers by the jetty too. Too bad they performed in Korean and we couldn't understand their jokes. We did enjoy their singing and dancing though.

Gwangbok-Dong Street

Street Food & Shopping
So after we were done with Jagalchi Market, we walked to this street where they had pushcart or makeshift stalls set up selling all kind of things from formal blouses, cute socks to rice cakes. If we weren't so full, we would have eaten even more street food! Most of the stalls sold hiking apparels in striking colours. I understand in Busan, that is the normal, everyday wear for the Ajumas and Uncles.

Hur Shim Ching Spa

Address: 23, Geumganggongwon-Ro 20 Beon-Gil, Dongnae, Busan
Tel: +82-51-550-2200~1
Opening Hours: 5.30am – 10pm
Admission: Regular rate - W10, 000 per adult + W2, 000 Robe Rental

After a day of walking, eating and just enjoying Busan, we wanted to go to a 'Hotspring' or a spa to just relax the rest of the evening away. This enormous spa occupies some 1,300 pyeong (4,300㎡), and is able to accommodate a total of 3,000 spa-goers, with about 40 different baths including the longevity bath, hinoki wood bath, cave bath, and an open-air outdoor bath. There are also a variety of special event baths that use natural bath powders and seasonal Oriental herbal medicine ingredients according to the time of year.

I read some reviews that there was a strawberry milk bath, but when I went there, it was coffee instead. I ended smelling like my all time favourite beverage for a sleepy morning! It is normal tradition to have a shower before you went for a soak, and if your visit was impromptu, you're able to purchase soap and other bathing necessities at the locker room.

There are 2 lockers when you enter, first a small one just for your shoes, and the next would be in the changing room for you to hang your clothes and keep your bag. Afterwards, proceed for a bath, and into the spa pools you go! There's even a small cafeteria where you have sit on plastic chairs (in full nude by the way) and enjoy some light snacks and beverages while you take a break from all the heat from the spa pools. How do you pay? They just charge it to your locker key! & you pay when you check out or return the key at the front desk.

Taejongdae Resort Park

Taejongdae Resort Park
Address: 257, Jeonmang-ro, Yeongdo-gu, Busan  
부산광역시 영도구 전망로 24 (동삼동)  
Tel: +82-51-405-2004  
Opening Hours: 4am – 12am  
Admission Fee: Free  
Danubi Train (다누비열차) – 1,500W  
Directions: From Busan Station, take Bus 88 or 101 (22 Stops, 40 mins) and get off at Taejongdae (태종대).

The next morning, we visited Taejongdae Resort Park as our flight was in the evening. We can take either Bus 101 or 88 from Opposite Busan Station. We had to walk down a few bus stops & check if the buses stopped at those bus stops.

According to Google Maps, it'll take about 45mins by bus journey to our destination, but the bus driver was driving like he would in F1! We arrived in 30mins and I also nearly flew out of my seat when he jammed break!

There are trams too to bring you round the park and it will cost you 1,500Won per adult and it starts at 10am. If you're not taking the tram, be prepared for a looooooong walk up hill. I suggest taking the tram halfway up, visit the attractions there, than walking down. If you're lazy, just hop on the tram and head down the hill/mountain again!

Be prepared for fog! It seems fog follows me everywhere I go! First it happened at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, than at the Bund in Shanghai, and now, in Busan too! I was pretty upset that I could not fully enjoy the beautiful scenery!

Please remember to bring a water bottle and a light jacket/windbreaker. I went in May, so it was still pretty cool and temperatures drop without warning. Also, remember to wear proper shoes, you're gonna do a lot of walking!


Check out my posts to other parts of South Korea here:

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