Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Busan and Fukuoka Trip - DAY #6 "Chinatown"

(Chinatown in Busan)

This morning was bittersweet. On one hand, I had a good last night out, and there were two more vacation days left. But on the other, we were leaving Japan today.

We forced ourselves up early this morning as we wanted to explore the Hakata Bayside before boarding our ferry. On the way to the port, it felt like I was saying goodbye to everything around me.

Points of Interest
Hakata Bayside Port, Hakata Port International Terminal, Hakata Port Tower, Busan Port International Terminal, Daeyon Station, Busan Station, Choryang Street, Kyungsung and Pukyong University

Wednesday, Feb 19th - Fukuoka, Japan -> Busan, South Korea

From out hotel, we walked to Hakata Station to save the subway fee. Also, it wasn't far. We then jumped on this bus to take us to Hakata Port.

We only took Japanese subways and taxis during our stay. It was nice to get the bus experience.

Like Taiwan, you board from the back and pay when you get off. In Korea, you board from the front and pay at the start. This bus looked really new and modern. Korean buses are almost always old although I feel their subways are more modern than Japan.

Along the way, this apartment building caught my eye for some reason. I think it was the rain that was setting the mood.

The bus dropped us off at Hakata Port International Terminal. Inside, I saw a group of recently arrived Chinese tourists. They were starting their journey whereas we were ending it. We dropped our stuff in a locker and headed towards the Hakata Port Tower...

We passed by the Marine Messe Convention Center.

The boardwalk had a nice layout and several stores that were closed since it was so early in the morning. I imagine on a nicer day over the weekend, this may be a busy place.

We did find a large grocery\market store open...

There, we bought these inexpensive chicken legs. They were tasty and the last thing I would eat on Japanese land.

We then continued walking around...

...until we reached Hakata Port Tower.

Just outside the doors were a bunch of Korean tourists waiting for the doors to open. Moments later, we were let in. The first floor had a mini-museum...

Finally, we made our way up to the tower...

Pretty nice views, and it was all free!

We killed more time around the boardwalk and discovered this aquarium...

With time dwindling down, we decided to head back to the terminal...

Moments later, heavy rain decided to come down on us.

Back at the station, at the terminal's convenience store, Bryant found this goldmine...

It is the original and Japanese version of "Honey Butter Chips": an extremely popular and rare (due to demand) snack item in Korea. My friend bought a box of 12 bags for $14.

Let me tell you, boarding the ferry from Japan was a completely different experience from boarding the ferry from Korea. In Japan, it was a simple, quick, and easy process. In Korea, it was a somewhat stressful and long process with crowds of people everywhere.

This was our sleeping quarters...

Last time, it was filled with middle-aged Japanese guys. This time, it was filled with younger Korean guys.

I promised myself that I would try the buffet and I did...

The cafeteria. In a few moments, this would be filled with people.

Plate one of two.

Although the staff was Korean and the currency was Japanese, the food was Chinese!

Needless to say, I was super stuffed. Damage was under $15 I think.

Due to lack of sleep, I retired to my sleeping quarters and laid down knowing that when I woke up, I would no longer be in Japan.

Five hours later...

As I did four days ago, I woke on the floor of a ship. But this time as I looked outside the window, it wasn't the port of Japan that I would see but the port of Korea. It was somewhat of a sad feeling.

A staff member was knocking on all the doors, telling everyone it was time to leave. Apparently, everyone in our room had overslept a bit.

Back at Busan Port International Terminal, I passed through the immigration desk. However, I had trouble speaking Korean to him, even the most basic of words. My head could only think in Japanese. It was a weird phenomenon.

The station was filled with people. Bryant said he could already feel the stress and fast-pace of Korea. We were definitely back home.

Except that it didn't quite feel back at home because it wasn't. Busan felt like Seoul but different. And because of that difference, we were still in another world.

We caught the subway. Our destination was Daeyon Station where we'd search for a motel.

At Daeyon, the street one over the main street had a huge row of motels. This one had a sign advertising $25 a night...

I wonder what the "K" stands for. For sure it's not "Korean".

It ended up being $35 due to the holiday season. It was still insanely cheap, and we were splitting it too.

The hallway.

This ended up being our room...

It was far more spacious than our Japanese hotel and came with a flat screen TV (with a million channels) and a computer.

And a bathroom you could actually fit in!

That's what I love about Korea: cheap motels! One of the best feelings about traveling is finally getting to your hotel, unloading your bags, and having your new (temporary) home. Like Nakasu in Japan, Daeyon would be our home base for the time being.

We then headed to Busan Station...

Busan Station

Our destination was Choryang Street, which was supposed to be a notoriously famous place for foreigners.

 I didn't know it was a Chinatown.

After this entrance, we could either go left or right, both ways looking entirely different from the other. We went right first...

Interestingly, the streets and buildings were filled with Russians and Filipino people and Russian and Filipino lettering. It was one of the strangest streets I've walked down in Korea.

We backtracked to the original entrance and now took the left path... 

 Random Filipino restaurant.

This side felt more like "Chinatown" and had many Chinese decorations. However, most of the stores were closed, the signs were a mix of Chinese and Russian, and it was mostly Russians wandering the streets.

Perhaps during the daytime when everything was open, the Chinese would come here.

We wandered more streets...

Finally, we settled on eating Japanese for dinner (lol)...

Koreans call it "donkasu" instead of "tonkatsu".

We jumped back on the station and headed towards Kyungsung and Pukyong University.

In Korea, wherever there's a major university, cheap bars and clubs will naturally be built around that university. Busan was no different to this rule.

The nightlife of Busan...

I almost felt back at home.

In Seoul, there's a popular foreign bar called Thursday Party. In Busan, apparently there's a whole chain of these bars...

It had the same decor to the Seoul venues except everything was placed in a different spot. But it had all the same stuff: darts, foosball, beer pong, and the exact same menu. And while the music was just as good, unlike Seoul, it wasn't loud and no one was dancing. People were just sitting around and drinking respectfully; it was lame.

We had to go to a club. We heard this one was busy even on Thursdays...

It was appropriately named "Ghetto".

Interestingly, it wasn't in the basement as most clubs are located. Anyways, the venue looked hot, the music was good, and the drinks were cheap; we had found our place.

$1 tequila shots and $2 juice and soda. I went crazy making my own tequila cocktails the whole night. Bryant just went straight ahead and bought a set of six tequila shots.

It was a good mix of Koreans and foreigners including some Filipinos, whom I rarely see around Seoul. There were these American girls next to our table. Instantly, they struck up a conversation with us. They were a little drunk. So were we. Apparently, they were English teachers, and actually from Seoul but visiting Busan. One of them was really funny and friendly, and I ended up dancing and talking with her much of the night. Her name was Laura.

Later, while on the dance floor, some random girl jumped in and started dancing with me. That never happens! I thought she was Russian or something. The fact that she didn't say a word to me only added to that suspicion. We finally talked a bit at the bar, and she had an American accent. She was an English teacher too but from Busan.

It's different meeting fellow Americans at a club. When I meet Koreans or Japanese, I just write it off as them having a curiosity about foreigners. But when another American wants to meet you, it feels more genuine to me.

Anyways, some guy was trying to hit on Laura the rest of the night so I left them alone. I just talked and danced with the second girl for the rest of the time. However, she would later find some other guy. Heh, no skin off my back.

Later, while back at the table, Laura came over to me and handed this napkin...

Reading the note back in Thursday Party.

Oh yeah, we also tried Busan branded soju that night! It was just as gross tasting as regular soju but also just as cheap and powerful.

It was an interesting night for sure. You never know who you'll meet when you go to the clubs. We walked back to our motel and slept. It's a weird feeling waking up in one country and on the same day, sleeping in another. It's been over a year since I've done that.

But tomorrow, we would wake up to our last full day of our trip.

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