This weekend was the first long weekend I had since I came to Seoul. It was in honor of Children’s day, a day to shower your children with more gifts and make them feel special.
David and I went on our first adventure in South Korea to Busan, the biggest port city in Korea. It takes 3 hours to get there on the bullet train (and costs 100, 000 won return) which is a sweet ride to the tip of the country.
This was also our first couch surfing experience (http://www.couchsurfing.com) which is a great way to meet others with adventurous minds that are willing to host you and/or show you around their city. We stayed with Pablo who is a Puerto Rican English teacher who has been living in Korea for almost 12 years! He was also hosting 2 others at the same time as us – a Canadian and a Thai-American – and we had such a great time sight seeing and exploring together.
With new friends in Busan
Although Busan is the second biggest city in South Korea, it’s dramatically smaller compared to Seoul. There are only 3 subway lines while in Seoul there are 8!
People journey to the south for the beaches, but we only managed to spend about 2 hours on our last day since the beaches are quite far from the downtown area. It seems that most people either stay by the beach, or in downtown.. it’s quite hard to do both due to the distance.
Pablo lives close to the downtown area so we spent a lot of time hanging out with other couch surfers and local Koreans. We visited Bemoesa Temple on our first day, which is in the north of the city at the base of Geumjong mountain. It was built in 678 during the Silla dynasty and is one of the most popular temples in the country. It’s gorgeous since it’s surrounded by mountainous scenery.
After a pretty mellow night of drinking with some new friends we decided to spend the next day doing what all Koreans love best – relaxing at the spa which is called jimjilbang in Korean. We went to Heosimcheong which claims to be the biggest spa in Asia (capacity of 2000 people). Since this was my first time at a jimjilbang, I had nothing to compare it to but the experience was truly unique and amazing. It feels very romanesque – bathing nude with other females. It is especially different when you are north American and doing anything in the nude with others is socially not acceptable, even being nude around your mother! Five hours at this spa was super relaxing and I had never felt cleaner in my life!
Pablo insisted we had to try the fish at Jagalchi fish market, the biggest fish market in Asia. Again, another great new experience because the one thing that I’m not good at is trying new food. I knew we were going to eat lots of seafood since Busan is renowned for it being a port city, but somehow I didn’t hear the part of it being raw. I was quite confused when the cut up pieces of octopus were still moving (which I refused to try because the tentacles did not look appetizing). But I was proud that I did try a lot of different raw fish which were very slimy. There was only one type that I liked because it was the least slimy.
I had a lot of new experiences on this quick trip to Busan and I plan on visiting again in the summer so I can lay on the beach (since Seoul has none) and maybe even take the ferry over to Japan.