Friday saw the start of the end. I left Seoul and headed to the South coast, a city called Busan, Korea’s second largest city. It was an interesting journey getting to Busan. I caught a Taxi to the subway station then took the subway to Seoul Station. I almost squished a person on the subway as I balanced my suitcase wrong :-(. I then caught a KTX (Korea Train Express) train down to Busan. The train is so fast! It went at over 300 km/h. Very cool. From the train to the hotel was less than epic. Tip: Do NOT catch a bus in Korea with a big suitcase. It is better to take the subway, even if there are lots of stairs….
My hotel is a block back from Haeundae Beach. After I checked in to the what is the tiniest hotel room ever, I walked down to the beach. It is so beautiful, perfect sand, great waves…. I can’t wait to spend time there tomorrow.
Saturday saw me walking a lot! I was sore the next day. Haeundae beach is really a place for couples, friends, and families – I want someone here with me! I got up early (missed sunrise which is supposed to be spectacular – I’ll try later) and headed out for my first walk. I walked along the beach westward towards Dongbaek Island. There is a trail around the island with lots of stairs. Very beautiful. The famous carving credited to Choi Chi-Won is there. It is from at least the 14C, if not earlier. The island is connected to Busan by a bridge (for cars and people). On the island is APEC house which housed the 2005 meeting. You could look around it. I also got my first glimpse of the famous ***** bridge. It is 7.5 km long, the longest in Korea.
I then decided to go to the Busan Aquarium. It is quite famous here, especially for their seahorse breeding. It is the largest one in Korea, but not very big. Still, they do rehabilitation for injured sea creatures which I like. The Asian Small Clawed Otters were so cute. I then escaped back to my wee little hotel room for some much needed AC.
In the evening I went out for another wander. I saw the bridge lit up at night. It is so beautiful! I got slightly lost but found my way back. I am having trouble navigating here which is unusual for me. Normally my mental map is quite good. I then stopped at an American restaurant for dinner. I am having a tough time eating here – almost everything has seafood or beef in it. It is impressive. Many, many food places let you pick out your fish/lobster/crab/eel… I then wandered back to my room to watch Hawaii 5-0 – first TV in a while. It was the only show on in English!
I slept in on Sunday till 9:30 – I must be getting used to the rock-hard beds in Korea. I went out to the beach and walked eastward this time. On the way back I decided to go in to the ocean – It was cold but amazing! I didn’t have my bathing suit on, so I only went in to my waist. Many others were in the ocean in shorts & tees, so I was not out of place. People here taking covering up very seriously, especially the face – you have to get used to the face masks, and bandanas tied around the face here. It is important to keep your face pale. As I was dripping wet, I dried in the shade for a bit, then wandered in the market. I headed back to my room for lunch, then went out for a tea.
In the afternoon, the amazing Hayley (our RA) was in Busan!! She came by the hotel and we went out for ice flakes. So yummy. (Thank you for answering my many questions so patiently) We then wandered along the beachfront. A zombie walk happened by – a bit unexpected! Check out the video here. There was also an outdoor show on the beach sponsored by a beer company. There was a live band, YeRim Kim, and a great DJ. Pretty fun. I walked Hayley to her friends and then headed back to the hotel room. Fun day. I am tired! Glad home is in two days.
Monday morning I took a last walk on the beach – the waves were gentle and is was not crowded at all. I was sad to have to leave. I caught a taxi to the train station – well worth the $$ especially if it is not rush hour. I got to go over the long bridge which was fun. Bit of a crazy ride though. Not for the weak of stomach. I ended up taking the KTX to Incheon so I didn’t even have to catch the subway from Seoul! Once at the airport I caught the shuttle to the hotel. Lovely room, very big, funky toilet. I went out for a wander that evening. Found a great Korean restaurant. I had bibimbap and it was only 6000 Won (about $6 – $7). So yummy. That night I just relaxed. It was hard to go to sleep.
Tuesday! Time to go home! I went to a cafe for breakfast. Met an interesting man who was working there. He is in airport security but helps his wife at the cafe on days off. Great chat, all about the two Koreas. He wants me to go to North Korea and tell them that the people of South Korea love them. Wonderful. The amazing Hayley met me at the airport to hang out for a few hours between checkout & check-in. We had my last ice flakes. I will miss her! and miss Korea!
The trip home seemed faster/better than the trip there. It was still long, but better. I had a few hours in Vancouver before the final trip to Nanaimo. I was so tired on trip that I feel asleep on take off, and woke up on arrival (I don’t remember the trip at all). My wonderful husband met me at the airport with a dozen yellow roses. I was so tired, but it is so good to be home…..