Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Busan and Fukuoka Trip - DAY #1 "Busan Tower"

Busan Tower

Seven days. Two cities. Two countries. It was an amazing trip to Busan, South Korea and Fukuoka, Japan! I will tell you all about those unforgettable seven days. We start with day #1.

Points of Interest:
Seoul Station, KTX Train, Busan Station, Jagalchi District, Yongdusan Park, Lotte Department Store, Busan Ferry

Friday, Feb 13th - Seoul -> Busan, South Korea

After work at 10pm, I finished my last packing and headed to Seoul Station. My train was a morning one at like 5:30am so the plan was just to stay in Seoul overnight.

I met Bryant (my co-vacationer) and for several hours, we killed time in a PC room.

PC rooms are these great places in Korea that are open 24 hours, and you get a comfortable chair and a high-end computer with tons of games installed on it. The best part is the price: $1 an hour! I mostly took a nap and surfed the internet a little.

It was eventually time to board our train:

We took KTX which is Korea's bullet train. It goes about 200mph. The price is normally like $60 one-way, but we got it discounted to $50 since our train was so early. The distance from Seoul to Busan is like the distance from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara, and it takes about 3 hours by train.

Korean countryside

It passed by Daegu, a city I had visited in 2012.

Saturday, Feb 14th - Busan, South Korea

We arrived at Busan Station in the morning. The weird thing about Busan is that it feels like Seoul, but a little bit different. It's like going to a parallel universe. Even people speak Korean with a different dialect. The accent is stronger, and my Korean friend said that sometimes, it sounds like Japanese to him.

Busan city subway layout. Much simpler than Seoul.

Some random subway station. They played weird music whenever a train was arriving.

Our first stop was some plaza which is supposed to be the site of the Busan International Film Festival.

The streets had a nice charm to it although they were a bit empty at this time in the morning. Also, something interesting about Busan; many signs were in both Korean and Japanese. Apparently, many Japanese visit the area since it's so close.

Mountains always seemed to be looming around everywhere.

We did find a busy area with food stands. This was Busan Oden (fishcake).

And Korean Hotteok (pancake).

Across the street was the famous Jagalchi Fish Market.

Tons of people in the morning.

The next objective was to ride this giant escalator to Yongdusan Park to reach Busan Tower...

This is what you see when you reach the top.

Korean bell.

Busan Tower with a statue of Yi Sun Shin. He's a famous general who fought Japan in the 1500's.

Even the view from the park was good already.

But the top of the tower was breathtaking...

You really get the feeling Busan is a bustling port city. Entrance to the tower was $8 if you got the ship museum ticket (which I did).

Nice view outside the base of the tower.

Ship museum. It included ships from all different countries (except for Japan, lol).

Can you guess this ship? It's the Titanic! If you look really close at the front, there's a model of
Jack and Rose reenacting their famous "I'm flying!" scene from the movie. lol.

Nearby was an art museum. It was okay, but it was free so I couldn't really complain.

Some random dragon statue.

After, we headed to Lotte Department Store.

There was this famous fountain show there that ran every hour. It mixed water, lights, and music. It was amazing, and the pictures don't do it justice.

At the top of the department store was a rooftop garden park.

From here, the view was amazing.

The sun was setting, and it was already time to leave Busan and head to Fukuoka, Japan! So we headed to the Busan Ferry Port.

Before entering, we had a simple dinner at a nearby doshirak (Korean version of the Japanese bento box) place. It was okay. The service was slow, and they messed up our order a little.

Inside the port, half the people were Korean and half were Japanese. It was an interesting sight to see. The process was a little annoying though. We had to fill out all these traveling\immigration forms and get our bags inspected. On top of that, there were tons of people and lines.

But finally, we made it to our ship:

New Camellia Line was her name. Roundtrip was $150. Really nice! We went with this company.

The lobby. There was also a cafeteria which I will show later. Also, 99% of the passengers were either Korean or Japanese.

A simple Japanese snack we ordered. I didn't really like it. lol.

The hallways.

Our humble sleeping quarters. Bryant and I were put in a room with a bunch of middle-aged Japanese guys. It wasn't bad but not the most comfortable. Let's just say these guys made themselves way too much at home in the room. lol.

Vending machines stocked with Japanese beer. Actually, there were only Japanese vending machines which only took Japanese money. But the crew and company were Korean.

On the ship, we befriended a guy from the UK named "Simeon" and a Korean guy from Daegu named "Kim". Simeon spontaneously decided to go to Japan and literally had no ferry ticket reserved! Luckily, there was one left at the ticket office. Kim was traveling with his parents and relatives. We had a good chat with them on the ship.

It was time to leave Busan. This was the view from the ferry's window.

Next, we will arrive in Fukuoka, Japan!

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