Well, Japan was a blast but on to the next adventure!
The next stop on The Expedition is Thailand – but pit stop first! Flights were very expensive from Fukuoka, so I decided to hop on the ferry over to Busan, Korea (the second largest city in Korea after Seoul) and take a flight from there. If you are confused by this at first, don’t worry, I was too, but Japan and South Korea are actually only separated by a three-hour ferry! I might as well enjoy another city on my way to Thailand.
Unfortunately, it was pouring rain from the typhoon still in the area, so the ferry was pretty dull, and while I didn’t realize it then, this was the start of the only city on my trip (I can’t speak for all of Korea) that I wouldn’t go back to. 🙁 For starters, if anyone knows me they know I hate the cold, and Korea was freezing – I’m definitely glad I had the jacket I started to get tired of carrying.
After making my way to the hostel, I decided not to waste the day due to rain so I grabbed an umbrella and hopped on the bus. When I pulled out the map to check my stop, I was in for a treat!
Say that ten times fast! Actually, say that one time at all! And is that a number in the name? How does that even make sense? How are you possibly supposed to explain where you need to go? No one will ever know. Anyway, I finally ended up making it to a really cool temple, Haedong Yonggungsa (I thought the “Fall Risk, No Exit” sign was funny at the edge of a cliff). It was definitely one of the top 10 temples I’ve seen.
After building up a hefty appetite wandering around, I went out to try some Korean food! I had no idea what to expect, but as I walked down the market street, everything looked… iffy, smelled bad, and looked extremely spicy. Hm. Luckily, there were actually a lot of Western restaurants around – I wonder why! I really tried to eat the Korean food, but after the second day, I gave up completely; it just wasn’t my thing.
I’ll give props to this one Korean BBQ restaurant, although the waiters were very rude. They gave me a menu of meat to choose from written in Korean and waited there. I’m like… um, I obviously can’t read this? He gave me a blank stare, so I just pointed to a random one. He walked away without a single word. Then they started bringing out a ton of different bowls and lit a small grill in the center of the table. I clearly didn’t know how to go about eating the meal or what utensils to use where, and the waiters again just stood there not caring at all. I’ve never experience anything like that in any country I’ve been to. I tried to watch what other people were doing, but I couldn’t get a good glimpse. Very annoying and frustrating. At least the meat was tasty!
The atmosphere is what makes a city. Busan has all the right features to make a great city: a beach, bars, restaurants, nightlife, but the people were just never happy to see you. Hopefully, I just had a unique bad experience – I kept telling myself it’s just in my head, but there was just too much evidence. Old ladies would glare at me on the subway, people would run into me, waitresses would clearly giggle ‘at me’ instead of ‘with me’ like in Japan, and the last straw was when the THIRD restaurant/bar said I couldn’t go in because it was “Korean only.” Like WTF? Are you serious?
So anyway, the two good things!! Burgers and the Beach! Like I said, there were a lot of Western restaurants, and I had the first REAL burger in a long time. It was amaazing! I went back to that sports bar at least five times.
If anything could save the city, it would definitely be the beach. I have never seen anything like the nightlife scene on the Busan beaches. It was a dazzling sight with singers, dancers, fire throwers, puppeteers, and lots of activities for all ages.
So all in all, Busan, KR had its good moments, but it’s definitely a pass for a traveler’s bucket list.
“For there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” -Shakespeare
Have you been to Busan? Did you have a similar experience? Let me know in the comments below!