Pusan/Busan… I dunno which spelling!

9 10 2008

Pusan is a fun, fun place, especially during PIFF. PIFF is the Pusan International Film Festival, and actually the largest film festival in all of Asia, so it’s actually a pretty big deal. But back to Pusan proper.

So I was in Pusan last weekend and we went down Friday morning. We stayed at the Gwangjang Tourist Hotel, across the street from the train station. It was a decent place that could fit seven to a room so it worked. Around the hotel is an… interesting place. A few streets down is ‘Texas Street’, which is where all the Russian and American sailors go to hang out… yea… We walked through there during the day without really realizing it and it was interesting. Lots of Russian ladies waiting outside buildings and such. There were also Filipinos ladies inviting us into their restaurants for cheeseburgers, in English. It was pretty weird and sketchy, but colorful I suppose.

After our adventure through Texas Street we moved onto Gwangan Beach, which is literally in the middle of the city. By the time we got there it was about 6PM, but that didn’t stop us from going for a quick swim. Despite the fact that it was late and October the water was actually really nice. We then went and got some really expensive sashimi stuff, which is cool in Korea as they eat it with chili paste instead of soy sauce like Japan, but I wouldn’t say it was worth as much as we paid. We then walked along the main drag which is parallel to a bridge that has basically a light show, see the pictures below, and it was a nice evening, even though I was sick by then. We finished the night with the cab going super fast through the streets of Pusan… like 100km/h… through a big city.

The next day (Saturday) a small group of us got up and went to the Jalgachi Fish Market, which is supposed to be the biggest one in Pusan (there are many others). It was a pretty cool open air fish market, that actually barely smelled of fish, so you know it was good. We walked around and saw all the many fish to eat, even a few sharks for sale… there was also alot of blood there… After that we stopped at one of the many eateries along the way and got ourselves our very own octopus to eat, killed especially for us! This made it expensive too! It was pretty good though, sadly it wasn’t the raw, living octopus we were after, but it was good none the less, once again with chili paste.

After the sea we went into the mountains, literally. We went across town and hiked up a mountain in search of what we heard was a really cool hidden Buddhist temple. It took a good two hours to get there from when we started hiking, but it was sooo worth it. We met some random 60 year old guy up there who showed us the way and provided us with gimbap (rolls of rice with veggies, like sushi but without fish) and soju (alcohol!). This moment made me realize why Korean people love hiking so much, it gives them an excuse to drink in a really nice location. Once we got to the temple I was also once again really impressed, there were carvings in the rock wall and it was pretty cool to see that sort of thing in person. We then got to hike all the way down and go to another temple, Beomeosa, which is big and commercialized and not as cool, but they were having a concert there and these Korean girls were singing “It’s Raining Men” and “Dancing Queen”… it was a bit weird.

After the temple runs we went back to the ocean to Haeundae Beach, which is the big popular one. There we had a boat tour of Pusan which was cool and colorful since it was by then night time. After that we just sat on the beach, drank, and played games. We did have a piggyback-ride race and I was champion so I am happy with that. Given I was the biggest and carrying one of the smallest girls. It was a fun night.

On Sunday we went to go see a PIFF movie which was interesting. The movie we say was ‘Decade of Love’ and was a Hong Kong movie. It wasn’t the best movie, but it was interesting. I don’t feel like explaining it so I won’t… maybe try google? After that we walked to this park next to Haeundae beach (yes, we were there again) which was really cool, and it almost seemed like a fantasy land or something. I didn’t quite feel like it was a real place… I don’t know. After that we had the wonderful experience of taking the KTX (Korean Express Train) back to Seoul where I was sad to be away from the ocean.

Overall, it was a really fun weekend and I hope to go back to Pusan sometime, and I recommend that you go to Pusan as well. Here are some pictures:

Gwangan Beach at day/dusk

Gwangan Bridge at night

Jalgachi Fish Market

The hidden temple with some of the stone carvings, there were many more

Some of Haeundae Beach with Pusan in the background