On May 2nd we packed up and went on a little mini vacation to Busan, South Korea. Busan is a beautiful place found on the southern coast of South Korea. There are beautiful beaches, magnificent hiking trails, the worlds largest department store, breathtaking temples, South Korea’s largest fish market, a spectacular night life, and much more!
Our trip started on Friday night after we finished a full day at work. At 9:00pm we left our apartment with our bags in hand, excited, and ready to enjoy our first long weekend off! First, we had to catch the subway to another area of Seoul where finally, we would catch our bus the rest of the way. We met our friend and co-worker Sarah at the Subway station and anxiously waited for the next subway train to arrive. We chatted with excitement about what we were going to do and how amazing it was all going to be. Our train then arrived and we hopped on.
As our conversations continued on the subway I interrupted quickly to tell the girls to make sure I didn’t forget my bag on the upper rack of the subway train. Sarah and Cali both nodded in acknowledgement and we continued chatting about what adventures we were going to have in Busan.
Before we knew it we were at our stop and transfer destination. Full of excitement, we all quickly jumped out of our seats and followed the bustling crowd of subway passengers off the train and to the nearest exit. It was only a few seconds after the subway zoomed off that I realized “SHIT!”. Lo and behold my bag I packed for the trip was still on the subway!
I immediately sprinted up to the nearest information booth and notified one of the workers! Long story short, they helped out and I was able to locate my bag after 15 minutes of anxiety and bitterness! Although they located my bag, it was now about 35 minutes away and our bus was leaving to Busan in 30 minutes. My decision was obvious; I sacrificed my bag and belongings to catch the bus!
It didn’t really bother me that I forgot my bag with all of my clothing and toiletry things. I was just happy I hadn’t forgotten our camera! I was able to manage for the rest of the trip with just the clothes on my back, plus a T-shirt and a pair of shorts I bought at a little store when we arrived in Busan. It would have been nice to have some clean underwear and socks, but commando worked just fine!
We visited many places, ate lots of food, drank lots of beer and soju, and most importantly had an amazing vacation! Here are some highlights from Buddha’s Birthday Weekend!:
Jagalchi Fish Market
One of the first stops on our trip was to the one and only Jagalchi fish market. This fish market is located on one of the coastal ports of Busan and is the biggest fish market in all of South Korea. It was unbelievable to see so much fresh fish spanning across a few large city blocks. All of the vendors are run by older woman or grandmas (known as ajjimas) and are mostly equipped with the same bright rainbow coloured umbrellas. There were fish heads, octopus, guts, eels, shellfish, you name it. Almost anything from the sea that you could think of was here. If you like raw fish this is the place to go! It is also common for many people to have live, still squiggling, fresh octopus. We didn’t have any of the live octopus here, but we did indulge in some ‘not so delicious’ fresh octopus at another restaurant later on in the trip.
After wandering around and checking out all the different vendors it was time for us to get some fresh seafood into our bellies! We stopped in at a restaurant to have lunch. We indulged in a fresh sashimi bibimbap, three whole pan fried fish, and a fish head soup. Oh, and plenty of maekju (beer) to go ’round. All of the food was excellent, especially the fried fish!
If you are ever in Busan I would highly recommend making a day trip to the Jagalchi fish market! Especially if you are into trying new and weird foods or you just love seafood.
Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Culture Village is a little hidden gem found in the hills of Busan. This little village is known for its charm, colours, and stunning architecture and feel. This village is located on a hill on the edge of the coast which is littered with toy, or block like houses that are all colourfully painted. It is a beautiful little village which boasts some of the most interesting little alley ways and beautiful coffee shops with terraces looking over the entire village. Thousands of tourists and photographers are drawn to this stunning village every year. It was so stunning that we returned to the village for a second time on our short four-day vacation!
This is a must see destination if you are in Busan. Grab some beers from one of the little convenience stores on the way into the village and tour around and enjoy the spectacular views and beautiful homes.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
On our second day in Busan we trekked to the one and only Yonggungsa Temple. This temple is located right along the shoreline and is known for being one of the most popular temples in all of Korea. We were not prepared for the amount of traffic that we were going to encounter trying to get to this wondrous temple. We knew it would be busy, but not this busy.. Since it was Buddha’s Birthday weekend and all the temples were littered with thousands of lanterns it seemed as though every single tourist and person in Busan was trying to get there the same day as us. It took us about 3 hours to get to the temple and another 2 hours to get home from the temple. On a normal day it would maybe take 30 minutes to get there and 30 minutes to get back. Seeing the views and the unique traditions of the Yonggungsa temple were totally worth it. The lanterns that were hung all over the temple like massive christmas lights were breathtaking. The view over looking the temple onto the big and open sea was even more amazing. Although the traffic was terrible it was well worth the waiting!
This is definitely a beautiful temple and should be crossed off your travel list while in Busan. If you want to avoid the crowds don’t go on Buddha’s Birthday! It was too busy and if I did it again, I would avoid sitting in traffic for that long and do something different.
Our hotel was located just a stones throw away from the Gwangalli beach. Our room window had a spectacular view of the beach and bridge in the distance. Gwangalli beach is one of the most popular beaches in all of Busan and is about 2 km long with beautiful sand and a spectacular view. The bridge is lit up every night with amazing lights that dazzle in the reflections on the water. The look into the city past Gwangalli Beach was magnificent as well! We were able to catch two sunrises while in Busan. No need for an alarm clock because the night life in Busan allowed us to party until dawn. I highly recommend staying up for at least one sunrise while staying in Busan. If you can’t tough it through the entire night, set your alarm, you baby.
Our trip to Busan was awesome! We will definitely be returning to Busan for a couple more weekend trips. It was a great time with no regrets…. Except maybe forgetting my bag on the subway.. Next time I will try not to be so forgetful! Cheers to All! More to come soon!