i’m finally getting around to updating my travel posts! exciting times!! (sorry i’m so behind – i spent most of this month completing my tefl and trying to catch up on sleep…)
so this year, my summer consisted of visiting family in HK as well as a two-week trip to south korea where i went to busan, jeju island, and seoul so i’ll be splitting my travels into 4 separate posts!
first up, busan!
(the day it chucked it down)
we took an evening flight from HK so after arriving and freshening up, we swiftly headed out to get some food. we were originally headed towards the main street in haeundae (the area where our hotel was) but on our way, we stumbled upon the Pojangmacha chon (a little food cart village) so we decided to eat there instead. it was only later when we read our tourist pamphlet that we saw that it was a recommended hotspot!
we ended up trying some tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes), odeng (fishcakes), and dakkochi (chicken kebabs) and made a considerable dent in our list of must-eat korean food!
(the day i discovered patbingsu)
for our first full day, we decided to spend our morning at taejongdae, an extensive resort park. we lucked out with the weather (considering it was bucketing it down the day before) so we decided on walking instead of taking their danubi train. the route’s around 5km but to enjoy all the sights and to go at a fairly gentle pace, it probably takes around 3 hours?
we arrived pretty early so we managed to beat the tourist rush and enjoyed the temples, the lighthouse, and the beaches in relative peace and quiet. i really would recommend going as it’s like a snapshot of all the scenery busan has to offer but in a concentrated place so if you’re not specifically planning on going hiking or visiting temples, this is a great way to see it all!
we finished up around 1pm and then hopped on the next bus to go to gamcheon culture village.
this was originally a shanty town that housed refugees from the korean war but in 2009, the government decided to revamp it and turn it into a cultural hub. local artists were brought in to transform all the buildings and the village was given a new lease of life!
nowadays, it’s a total photographer’s paradise with every street you walk down and every corner you turn giving you a different view of the charming multicoloured village. we spent our whole afternoon weaving our way through winding alleys crammed full with artisanal shops and quirky eateries.
we stopped off at blue house on the stairs which is an adorable little café with a rooftop area where you can sit and just soak in your surroundings. i had their specialty cloud coffee which is essentially a latte with candy floss on top and my mum had a blueberry smoothie.
we also tried a plethora of other snacks whilst we were there including macaron ice cream sandwiches, dakgangjeong (popcorn chicken coated in a sweet and spicy glaze), fresh watermelon juice, and the pièce de résistance, patbingsu!!
now, i’ve had shaved ice before in taiwan but this was miles beyond anything i’ve ever tried before. in addition to the shaved ice and red bean, there were also added almond flakes, ground peanut powder, and chewy bits of tteok!! it’s honestly the perfect treat for a summer’s day.
we then took the bus into nampo-dong and had a look around the underground market before venturing out to BIFF square and gwangbok-ro culture and fashion street where we did a bit of shopping before calling it a night.
(the day i destroyed my knee)
we’d initially planned on just spending our morning at beomeo-sa, which is one of the most well-known urban temples in south korea and one of three major temples in the yeongnam region but somehow when we were leaving, we ended up following a group of visitors and inadvertently hiking up a mountain? after a couple of hours of walking, we suddenly found ourselves at the summit of geumjeongsan??
it turns out that there are lots of popular hiking trails which begin near the temple that take you all across the mountain – wild, right?
for lunch, we stopped at one of the small family-run restaurants near the bus stop and had some pajeon (spring onion pancake) and dubu kimchi (tofu with stir fried kimchi and pork) and successfully crossed more famous korean dishes off our list!
we made a pit stop at our hotel to sort out my knee (since i took an unfortunate tumble whilst coming down the mountain) and then decided to spend our evening exploring the surrounding area. we went to shinsegae centum city, which is the largest department store in the world, and i nabbed myself a sick pair of filas that haven’t yet been released in the uk!
by that time, it was nearing sunset so we bussed it to gwangalli beach to see gwangandaegyo light up. since bts were doing their muster in busan at the time, the bridge was lit up in purple and had messages to and from bts army scrolling across it instead of its normal lightshow.
(ngl i was really confused at first and just assumed that this is what south korea has become now – endless bts promos – but then i found out it was their fanmeet and everything made more sense lmao)
for dinner, we found our way to beef gukbap street and had some hearty servings of delicious beef soup and rice. once again, they were an absolute steal at 6000KRW each (~ £4).
(the day i got ridiculously sunburnt)
since we only had half a day left in busan, we decided to stay relatively near our hotel.
we went to haedong yonggung-sa which is one of south korea’s only seaside temples and one of only three buddhist temples in south korea dedicated to guanyin (the goddess of mercy). besides the goddess herself, there are also other deities dotted around the site to which you can pray and some other highlights include 12 stone zodiac statues which guard the temple; two giant golden pigs which bring fortune; and four stone lions which represent joy, anger, sadness, and happiness.
after exploring, we went to the small street market near the entrance of the temple where we had some sikhye (sweet rice punch) and hotteok (korean sweet pancakes). yet more foods ticked off our list!
we had a couple of hours before we needed to leave for the airport so we had a quick peek at haeundae beach and a little meander through haeundae market. since we’d just had some snacks, none of the restaurants particularly took our fancy but if you’re into your seafood, this market is the place to go! we ended up just buying a few things from a local bakery to sustain us for our trip to jeju island.
on our way to the airport, however, we couldn’t resist the call of the odeng at sasang station so we took a lil detour to say farewell to our newfound loves.
and so that brings us to the end of our trip to busan! i had a wonderful time and i can’t wait to go back!
p.s. i loved busan so much and i actually might move there to teach english after i graduate but we’ll see if any of the schools accept me lmao