Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Busan and Fukuoka Trip - DAY #7 "Haeundae Beach"

(Haeundae Beach)

This would be the only full day we would spend in Busan from morning to night. Despite yesterday's late night shenanigans, I woke up pretty early. It was my last day of vacation after all; I was going to end this trip on a bang!

Points of Interest
Daeyeon Station, Gamcheon Cultural Village, Seomyeon Station, Haeundae Beach, Haeundae Traditional Market, Busan Museum of Art, Centum City, Gwangan Bridge, Nopo Station

Friday, Feb 21st - Busan, South Korea

Bryant was completely passed out. In fact, he was still wearing the same clothes as last night. I tried to wake him, but he told me he was too hungover. That's one thing I pride about myself; I rarely get hangovers.

I bought him a vitamin hangover recovery drink, and he told me to start without him. So off I was!

Our motel in the morning.

It was a beautiful day while walking to Daeyeon Station...

Really cute mini garden in the station. Many of the stations had these actually.

I was headed towards Toseong Station to visit the Gamcheon Cultural Village. Allegedly, it was Korea's version of a Rio de Janeiro neighborhood.

After arriving at the station, I waited for the special shuttle that went up there, but when it came, it was full! I bit the bullet a took a taxi.

The taxi driver was pretty nice and started a small conversation with me. However, it was still so difficult speaking Korean. I was still thinking in Japanese.

Finally, I arrived and judging by the crowds and their cameras, I instantly I knew I was at a tourist attraction...

One of the first things I came across was a museum. The sign outside literally read, "The Small Museum".

They actually used paper money for something as small 5 cents.

Overall, it was pretty neat. I then ventured further into the village.

The narrow pathways, old buildings, and random artwork gave the village a quaintness to it. But the views were the most astonishing...

After the Korean War, this was a makeshift village where poor people lived. However, it had been renovated and turned into a national landmark.

On the way down, I spotted some traditional architecture...

And the most dangerous set of stairs in the world. lol.

I realized I was traveling alone for the first time in a week. It was kind of a nice feeling having some time to myself for once.

The next stop was the famous Haeundae Beach! Long before I went on this trip, the only thing I knew about Busan was that Haeundae was the best beach in Korea. I had to check it out.

Along the way, I transferred at Seomyeon Station, which is probably one of the largest and busiest in Busan...

The Seomyeon area, famous for it's shopping and nightlife, would unfortunately be a stop I would miss on this trip.

After a somewhat long subway ride, I finally arrived at Haeundae Station...

Even just walking up the subway was a dramatic experience.

At long last...

Gunam Street lead you down to the beach. It had a really lively atmosphere to it, and it made me think of Pier 39 but with wider streets and Asian stores...

Eventually, all the buildings disappeared, and all I could see was the sky; I knew I had reached the beach...

A crowd gathered to watch some sort of fire dance (like what they have in Hawaii).

I took a stroll along the beach. The sun was out, it wasn't too cold, and it was just slightly breezy. It was a good feeling.

I think this was a comedy show.

On my left was the beach and on my right were buildings and trees. It was an interesting contrast.

And to think, across this body of water was Fukuoka, Japan.

Luxury hotel at the end of the beach.

I left the beach area to explore some of the nearby city streets...

I love building architecture. Some of these buildings, with the sky reflecting off of them, are almost invisible.

I continued back down the street one over and parallel from the beach...

A random club. This must have a long line at night.

I went back to the beach but down the opposite side that I hadn't gone to yet...

Nearby, I walked down the Haeundae Traditional Market...

They had many seafood restaurants with some random stores thrown here and there.

I then explored some of the back streets...

There must be a million signs on this building.

Immediately, you can see how busy and noisy  Korean buildings look compared to Japanese ones.

I don't know why, but this dollar store drew me in,

It really reminded me of those packed stores you see in Chinatown or in Mission where everything literally looks like they will fall off the shelf.

This set is like something you'd discover in an old drawer. I just had to buy it.

I headed back towards Gunam Street...

The giant oden was calling me in...

This model was like 10x the size of the real thing.

Inside, the atmosphere was hectic with people buying all kinds of oden. I don't even think oden is that good. lol.

And back to Busan Station...

Bryant finally recovered, and we met up again to go to the Busan Museum of Art Station

Another station mini-garden.

The surroundings of the station...

BEXCO: Busan Exhibition and Convention Center

On the right was actually the museum. Such modern design.

And inside...

Overall, I thought the museum was too big and had too much space. It actually tired me walking from one room to another. There were some interesting pieces, but considering how large this building was, they could have put more galleries inside.

We then walked over to a nearby area dubbed Centum City. What was so special about it? Well, it has the largest department store in the world.

This area showed off Busan's modern side. I felt like I was in the future.

I was now staring at the largest department store in the world. I didn't believe it; I had to double check it on Google.

"Shinsegae" is a department store chain in Korea. It literally means "new world".

We decided to go for something cheap for dinner. This was like six bucks. It was good but something I could find easily in Seoul.

Now in Centum City Station...

If my legs had more energy, I would have walked closer to this Romanesque fountain.

Busan subway system coverage. Maybe this is half the size of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Next was Geumnyeon Station to visit Gwangalli Beach...

Just outside the station, this "pond" with live fish was embedded in the street.

This cobblestone paved road lead to the beach.

Upon reaching the end of the street, Gwangan Bridge awaited us...

It was so breathtaking to see a glowing bridge in a sea of darkness. And the lights were animated.

The surrounding cityscape also glowed...

I really felt like I was in the future. It also had a really nice and busy beachside walkway...

And the other side of the street was littered with bars and restaurants that catered to the nightlife crowds...

Another Thursday Party. There was one next door too, but they were not connected inside.

Like a scene from a movie.

It made me think of Hong Kong for some reason.

Overall, I was tremendously impressed with this street. I could imagine this would be a great place to hangout with some friends during the summer. We could've hanged out here for the night but our goal was to experience the Haeundae nightlife.

We jumped on the subway again back to Haeundae. Night would reveal the beach in a different light...

We drank some soju and a mixer while enjoying the crowds and street performers of the beach. A bit buzzed, we headed for a bar on Gunam Street called the "Fuzzy Navel".

It was extremely lively with loud electronic music and sometimes, old Korean songs (the latter of which I find almost undanceable, lol). They had a bar fire show and gave out hand held sparklers, both of which seems really dangerous.

The two-floor bar had a "beach house" feel to it, and the menu was entirely Mexican food. However, people were mostly sitting and talking and not dancing. It seems to be more of a place to go with friends rather than a place to meet people.

They had their own house beer.

Just for kicks, we decided to check out Haeundae's Thursday Party, but it ended up being a mistake...

Just by chance, we ran into Bryant's friend Jake who is an American that lives in Seoul. He too was also on vacation in Busan and was attending some birthday party. He's a really cool guy, but we kinda' got stuck at the birthday party filled with a bunch of people we didn't know.

The bar was kinda' boring with the quiet music and no one dancing. The original plan was to go to a club, but we would later discover that all the clubs around had a $15 or $20 entrance fee. Additionally, we wasted so much time in the bar to justify paying such a fee so late into the night.

Unfortunately, my last night on vacation ended with no epic club story.

We did eventually escape that bar and took a walk around...

This was supposed to be a hot place, but it was pretty dead that night.

We ended the night at a Korean ramen\snack restaurant...

Celebrities come here?

I got a simple ramen with egg and mandu (Korean dumplings).

We grabbed a taxi to our motel and called it a night. Despite the tame ending, it was one of the busiest days of the trip (along with the first Fukuoka day) and a memorable way to end the travel.

Saturday, Feb 22nd - Busan -> Seoul, South Korea (Day #8)

We woke up early and took the subway north towards Nopo Station, passing by parts of Busan that we had never gone by before. The northern area seemed older and more suburban with more mountains and nature. We also passed by Busan University, another hot nightlife area.

We eventually reached the chaotic Busan Central Bus Terminal...

We hadto take cross country bus as all the train tickets were sold out due to Lunar New Year.

While waiting for our bus' departure, we ate at this traditional Korean restaurant...

Bibimbap (literally means "mixed rice") is always either really good or really bland; this one ended up being the latter.

At the boarding area...

Our bus.

I've taken a cross country bus on three trips before. They're quite spacious inside, and the seats are very comfortable.

Moments later, we were off!

After two hours or so, the bus stopped at a resting area...

I always find resting areas to be weird as they are a piece of civilization in the middle of nowhere.

15 minutes later, we were on the road again. The final half of the trip ended up being hell as the freeways were backed up due to the holiday traffic. Fortunately, I needed to catch up on some sleep so I was not awake through most of it.

With the nearby cars illuminating the windows, I felt like I was on some weird 80's spaceship.

A four-hour or so bus ride took over six hours. Finally, I had arrived home at Seoul. I exited the bus with my travel partner Bryant. In the station, we shook hands and went our separate ways: much like the two main characters do at the end of a movie.

It's weird leaving home for a week and to come back. It takes a moment for everything to feel back to normal again. I came home to Incheon, showered, and dressed. I then did what I do almost every Saturday night: met friends in Seoul.

It was good to see familiar faces and places again. At the same time, I couldn't help thinking about my trip, the places I went and the people that I met; Simeon, Akiko, Mikako, Laura, Jake, and so on. And to think, we crossed paths for one night, and they will continue their lives wherever they are, and I will continue mine here.

It was a good trip.

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