Jenni and I recently took a trip to the South Korean port city of Busan in hopes of finding a spot to stick our feet in the sand for a few hours. We also made the nearly three hour trip to see our buddy Andrew. Andrew is in the Navy, and his ship was docked in Busan for a few day so we decided to take a trip down to meet up with him. Before telling you about Busan, I would like to mention the difficulties we had with making this journey. We pre-purchased our KTX tickets (high speed train tickets) so that when we arrived at the Asan train station, we could jump on our train and go. We believed this to be the most practical way to make the journey. WRONG! We took an intercity bus to Pyeongtaek Station. From Pyeongtaek, we jumped on the subway bound for Asan. Little did we know that the subway we got onto was an express subway whose final destination was Choenan Station. Choenan Station is a number of stations before Asan. So the subway pulls into Choenan Station, and the conductor comes over the intercom and says a bunch of stuff in Korean. Naturally, Jenni and I are listening intently, but unable to decipher what he is saying. We notice that everyone on the subway now gets off the subway at the conclusion of this message. Instinctively, Jenni and I also get up and walk off the subway. Since living in Korea, Jenni and I have become much more willing to trust our “gut instinct.” Additionally, we experienced this same problem when coming home from Suwon on the metro. So anyway, we are now in Choenan Station, and need to be in Asan. We ask a nice young lady at the information desk, “Which way to the Asan bound subway?” She points us in the right direction and we get onto the metro that we need to get to Asan. The only problem with this slight detour is that now we are getting much closer to the departure time of our KTX train. We arrive at Asan Station with approximately ten minutes until our KTX train leaves. We find ourselves sprinting through the station trying desperately to find our train. We finally arrive on the fourth floor of the station and see a KTX train ready to leave. YES! We made it! Once again, WRONG! It turns out that we were at the wrong end of the station. We had to purchase new tickets, and hike to the other end of the station. What a costly mistake that was! Turns out that our original train departed from the Choenan/Asan station. We were in the Asan station looking for our original train. Lesson learned I guess. So we finally get on the right train, and we are on our way to Busan. What a relief to know that we are finally on the right train. The train ride itself was very interesting. The train travels at 200 mph, travels through mountains a number of times, and passes cities by very quickly. If you want a scenic train ride through Korea, do not take the KTX. If you need to get somewhere quickly and do not mind dropping 30-40,000 W, get a ticket for the KTX. We finally arrive in Busan, and grab a taxi to meet up with Andrew. Turns out that the place we needed to go was directly across from the train station. The taxi driver just laughed when we told him where we wanted to go (should have known right then that something was fishy). We get out of the taxi and walk around for a bit. The foreign center of Busan is rather Westernized, but unfortunately is known for its significantly higher crime rate that the rest of Korea. We finally met up with Andrew, grabbed some lunch and decided to go check out a Buddhist Temple close by.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple 해동 용궁사 is located on the side of a mountain, so the ascent via taxi is pretty interesting. The roads are very narrow, and the cab driver is reluctant to yield to others. After arriving safely at the temple, which was very colorful and beautiful, we walk around for a bit and take in the scenery. After our very brief temple stay, we decide to do some more exploring.
We now take a trip to Nurimaru APEC House. This is basically an observatory at the southern most point of South Korea. We did not actually go inside the observatory, but there scenery is B-E-A-UTIFUL. There is close to no humidity because of the sea breeze and there is an awesome view of the ocean. In addition, there is a pathway which follows the ocean for quite a ways that you can walk along. After walking along this path for some time, we come upon a cliff where, at the bottom, there are a number of Koreans relaxing by the water. It appears that there is no way to get there from where we are, but we are determined to find one. Finally, we witness two older Koreans laboring their way up the side of the cliff behind some shrubbery. They appear on the same path where we are, and it appears that we have found our way to get down to the water. The walkway where we were is a horseshoe shape which clings to what is essentially a cove. We were on one side of the cove, and the old couple which ascended the cliff via dust path is on the other side. We walk around the horseshoe shaped pathway and find the little trail which leads down to the water. After all four of us nearly tumbling down the cliff, we finally reach the bottom. We are rewarded with the salty smell of the ocean and refreshingly cold water. After the APEC, we find our way to our hotel. We go out that night, experience Texas Street, and call it a night. The next day we decide to find a beach and plant ourselves for the day.
Haeundae Beach is very near our hotel which is nice because we are able to walk to it. The beach is very unique, very crowded, but is still the beach. After our day at the beach, we take the KTX back home, catch the very last metro by the skin of our teeth, and then sprint to Pyeongtaek Station where we luckily catch the last bus out for the night. Overall, very interesting experience where we learned a great deal. It was nice to see one of our old friends, and it was nice to finally spend some time on the beach. Chris 🙂