I know I’m getting a little out of order here because I still have quite a few more Thailand posts to publish, but that can all wait because I really wanted to write about my Busan trip while it’s still fresh in my mind.
But first! How are you?! I feel like I haven’t updated you all on my life here in Korea in a while. Life got pretty crazy a few weeks ago. I had to plan for summer camp, lead summer camp, travel to Busan, plan for my church’s mission trip, and then actually attend the mission trip. I’ve barely had time to do anything. There was actually a day where I forgot to drink my hot tea and it ended up turning into cold tea. That’s how you know I’m busy.
Anyways, things are getting back into a routine here, as I am back in school and ready to crush the next 6 months left of my Korean adventure! Oh yeah. Did I mention I renewed my contract for another 6 months? I was literally praying that God would let me stay here for another 6 months and He answered! It’s rare to receive a 6 month contract here so that just goes to show you what a miracle it is that my school even offered it to me. I have quite a few plans for the next 6 months:
- Become a BSF (small group) leader at my church
- Do more to raise awareness about human trafficking in my area
- Figure out where I’m going to move after my contract is over
Right now, I’m waiting to hear back from a teacher’s program in the States. So I guess I’m doing the whole “teacher thing” now. Who woulda thunk it? I’m also a little sad because the North Korean tutoring season of my life has come to an end. It was really fun while it lasted, but the person I was tutoring is actually moving! So yay for them, but kinda sad for me. I’m sure God has this all in His timing though. Leading a small group at my church looks like it’s going to take a lot out of me so it’s just as well that I don’t have as many obligations.
Okay! On to my Busan trip!
Since I’m still saving for my Japan trip next month (!), but I really wanted to travel somewhere during my short summer vacation, it looked like Busan would be the perfect trip. Busan is known for being THE beach town in Korea. I really got a San Diego/San Francisco vibe from the place. The last time I went to Busan, I was only there for 1 night, and it was fairly cold. Not exactly perfect beach weather. So I was excited to spend some much needed time in the sun.
Most people take the KTX (the fast train), but being the budget-conscious girl I am, I decided to take the bus. I will never do this again. While I don’t mind 5 hour bus rides, I also realized that I totally wasted an entire day just trying to get to Busan, when it would’ve only taken me 1 hour on the train. So yeah. Lesson learned. However, part of traveling isn’t just arriving at the destination — it’s everything in between. So I tried to have the best attitude possible during this bus trip.
ANYWAYS, after the longest traveling day ever, I finally arrived in Busan late Monday night. And wouldn’t you know it, but this week was a beach party week! Apparently there were going to be lots of events during the week at the different beaches. I booked a hostel right next to Haeundae beach, one of the most popular beaches in the area. It was the first night of festivities and they had a concert, along with some fireworks. This was super fun to me, and I really enjoyed the fireworks. Busan is also known for its’ fireworks festival in October.
After the shows, we ate a lovely dinner of seafood and accidentally walked through a red . . . er, pink . . light district.
Random side note: I had no idea that Busan has such a vibrant red light district. Though I’ve been in Thailand, I’ve never seen prostitution so blatant in a country before. I know I didn’t actually walk through red light districts in Thailand, but seeing prostitution so out in the open like this in Korea really shocked me. For such a conservative culture, I couldn’t believe that everyone just lets this happen. There were literally women sitting in shop windows waiting to service customers. I even saw a police car drive through the area. It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about the darkness in those alleyways.
This district really broke my heart and stayed in the back of my mind throughout the whole trip.
The next morning, I decided that I just wanted to hang out at the beach. And so I did. I was afraid it was going to rain, but praise the Lord it didn’t! Thankfully, my hostel was near the side of the beach that is not crowded with tourists, so I got some nice quiet times in.
After roasting in the sun for a couple hours, my friend and I decided to visit Gamcheon Culture Village, which is known for being artsy and the “Machu Picchu of Busan.” But first, lunch! It was soooo hot, so my friend convinced me to try a Korean soup that is cold. It was okay, but I probably wouldn’t order it again unless I was about to die from heatstroke. Ice in soup still weirds me out.
We accidentally set out on a hike to the village instead of taking the bus, but it was all good in the end because I enjoyed the hike. It was lovely walking through the village and seeing such adorable houses.
Finally, we arrived at the top to see a view of the village.
At the top, we ran into 2 other travelers and decided to go touring with them for the rest of the day. This is one reason I love traveling — meeting like-minded people from all over the world!
We walked a through the village and I bought a glorious hotteok ice cream sandwich. Nobody understood how happy this made me. I could swim in rivers of this stuff.
It started raining a bit, and time was passing quickly, so we decided to head to a temple that we heard was near the ocean. One thing that surprised me about Busan was how far apart everything was from each other! It took us about 1 1/2 hours to get to our next location!
Oh, but it was worth the trip. The temple was absolutely stunning. We arrived when the sun was going down and while it was still sprinkling. There weren’t a ton of tourists there and I felt like I was walking through a ride at Disneyland. But it wasn’t a ride! It was real life!
At one point, I sat in front of the temple and just listened to the hum of buddhist chanting mixed with trickles of rain. It was so peaceful.
That night, I ate a Mediterranean dinner with my new friends and then walked around the beach to watch some buskers. A few of the performers were actually really talented. There was also a pizza vending machine!
This was to be my last day in Busan, as I needed to get back home in time to go to the Immigration Office on Friday. To be honest, I was absolutely tired. I enjoy traveling, but after having such a busy work schedule, I just wanted to chill for the rest of the day.
Though I spent the previous day with a bunch of people, I was thrilled to spend the entire day by myself.
I started the morning lounging at the beach for about 3 hours before treating myself to a fancy lunch next to the ocean.
After this, it was shopping time! Busan houses the biggest department store in the world! I didn’t buy anything, but it was still nice walking through the building anyways. However, I felt like the store was really just a big mall complete with an ice skating rink, several museums, and a rooftop garden. It didn’t seem very store-like to me.
My main attraction for the day was Spa Land a.k.a. Heaven. I’ve been to a Korean bath house before, but never like this. There were about a dozen different saunas in the place, and maybe half a dozen giant baths. I have never felt so relaxed in my life. My body could barely move. It was incredible.
Spa Land gives people a 4 hour time limit, and at first I thought this was too much. But now I realize that if you have food, you can easily stay there all day. I could not recommend this place enough.
When I finally decided to leave because I was STARVING, I thought that maybe I could watch a movie somewhere. But after checking my bank account, I thought better of it. This all turned out okay though because across the street from the department store was the Cinema Center. This is where the Busan Film Festival takes place every year, and it is SUCH a cool building. They even have a giant movie screen outside that sometimes plays movies. Of course, the building itself does act as a movie theatre, but I just chose to walk around it instead of actually sitting in the theatre. This was still really fun to me and I was definitely nerding out.
I ended my evening here by walking near the river and listening to Hamilton. The trail near the river wasn’t crowded and I even found a spot to sit down. It was a great way to end the night in this area. Later on, I met up with my friend again and we walked to another famous spot. It was another river area, but I wasn’t too fond of it because it was super crowded. I think I chose right in my decisions that day.
All in all, this trip was SO FUN and relaxing.
And you better believe I took the train back home instead of the bus.