The day we left Seoul was a traveling day, nothing was planned other than arriving to Busan. We did not however think we were going to arrive as late as we did. The trip under normal circumstances should have taken 3 hours 45 min to 4 hours 15 min. It ended up taking 7 and a half hours. We were in traffic from the time we left Seoul until we arrived to Busan. It wasn’t a huge deal because like I said we had nothing planned, but looking at the gps two hours and being no where close to Busan and not knowing how much longer we had felt like a joke. When we finally got to Busan and arrived at the hostel we were only 5 minutes past the 11pm deadline for check in; We all showered, changed and then found a place to eat. We looked for a bar or two, but decided to go back to the hostel for an early night. Most of us ended up staying up until 5:30am, so much for the early night.
The following day we went to Gamcheon Culture village. Gamcheon is considered to be the Rio of Korea, it was once a slum and now it’s a tourist attraction. In 2009 it received a colorful facelift; murals, art work and sculptures were added, houses and alleyways were painted vibrant colors and they even added a little scavenger hunt to visit various locations and collect stamps. It was awesome and I think the group was pleasantly surprised, especially since most of them didn’t have any idea of what it was.
Later that night we went out to the only place you should go out to on a Thursday night in Busan, Thursday Party! Yes, that’s the bars name. Unfortunately it didn’t look like we were going to be able to go at first. Our first day in Seoul going to the hostel Logan lost his wallet on the metro, up to this point it wasn’t an issue. At one of the bars in Seoul it almost was, but the bouncer ended letting him in. The bouncer at Thursday party did not, even with a picture of his passport on his phone. So, Logan, Sebastian, Joey and I regrouped at the convenience store, bought some drinks and brainstormed how we were going to get him in. We tried duplicating our stamps onto his arm, but none came out clear enough; we thought maybe he could hop the railing that was open to the street, but we didn’t know how Koreans would receive this, maybe they’d rat us out; I then remembered I had my license in my wallet! We say all Asians look the alike and Koreans say the same for us. I already had the stamp so I didn’t need to show it again. We planned that I would wait past the bar while the three of them would attempt for him to get a stamp. While we decided on this, the others left for a bar next door, before joining them we thought it’d be a good idea to try so that after we could go back. We set the plan into motion, from the sideline I saw the bouncer check the id, look at it and give him the stamp. They got in, got out, we joined the others, drank, listened to the music being played (it was a foreigner bar) and then spent the rest of the Thursday night partying at Thursday Party.
The next day our only plan was to visit Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, or the water temple. It was a good thing too because we weren’t getting up much earlier than we did. It also took pretty long to get there. The temple is a Buddhist temple built in 1376 situated on the coast, this aspect makes it one of the most unique temples as most are found in the mountains. Because it was Chuseok it was flooded with Koreans and we spent about as much time there as one could walking around a temple, about an hour. On the way back we decided to forgo the bus and opt for a taxi instead. And me we, I don’t mean me, I was 100% for taking a bus back. The journey to find a taxi led us to the Lotte Outlets, a giant outlet mall built in a modern Greek shopping mall style. Every store you can imagine international and domestic brands were found there, there was even a department store for those who decided they didn’t actually want to shop at the outlets. As the only group of foreigners there (I’m basing this off of not seeing any) it was very interesting to witness and experience Koreans living and doing things in a very western way, something I would do back home. Nobody bought anything, but we did get separated from each other. We never found any taxis, but we were able to find a metro stop a short walking distance away. It was Friday night, we had to wake up at 6:30am the next morning to go on a octoberfest/lantern festival excursion, but that didn’t stop Andile and I from indulging a Friday night out in Busan. It did however, for everybody else.
Out till 4:30am, up at 6:30am was how my Saturday began, a two and a half hour bus ride to the German village, *there is a German village in a place called Namhe because the Koreans who went to Germany after WWII as part of Korea’s investment in their youth and future program, missed it so much that when they came back they decided to build a replica of a German village,* more drinking until 3:45. Another 2.5 hour bus ride (caused by traffic, was only suppose to be an 1.5) to the lantern festival in Jeju, arrive back to Busan around 11, shower, change, eat then go out for our last night out and the end to our vacation.
As someone who enjoys solo travel those 9 days were exhausting with the only real reprieve from each other coming during sleep, however I could have spent another week with them and I think everyone else felt the same. To spend 9 straight days together and not get sick of one another, is in my opinion how we know we’ve got ourselves a good group.
This deserves it’s own special section:
After the water temple and finding our way to the metro from the outlets, we decided to go to a pizza place under Christian’s friends suggestion. Pizza in Korea is normally not good (I can eat it, but I don’t fully enjoy it) and they put weird stuff on it like: corn, shrimp, sweet potato, and any other weird thing that doesn’t belong on pizza. The Busan place, Slice of Life is the closest thing to New York pizza I’ve ever had outside of New York, bar none (I don’t think I’ve ever used that phrase before, but it certainly fits). I almost want to say it was New York pizza, but you gotta be in New York for that. I obviously got a whole pie to myself.
Check out my friends Sebastian’s blog for a different perspective on the trip