I can’t get enough of the city of Busan.

We are nearly half way in to our one month stay in Nampo district of the southern South Korean city of Busan. It’s probably most famous for its busy port, and a zombie film we are yet to watch (Train to Busan). However to us it is the gateway to Japan as the overnight ferry to Fukuoka leaves from here. This is already booked as the visa on arrival requirements advised us we needed our onward travel booked before entering. Of course this was never checked at the border control off the boat and the woman who checked Mischa’s passport was on her phone so he has no departure by date stamp, whereas mine is three months.

Busan is an amazingly stunning city. Climb up one of the many hills and mountains and there is a view more beautiful than the last. I can’t get enough of it. It reminds me of a giant version of Falmouth, my home town. Very hilly including windy roads and stepped footpaths, docks servicing large ships, international because of the docks, several beaches – just instead of 25,000 people there are 3.6 million. Slightly bigger.

Workaway

We wanted to stop here for a while as neither of us knew much about South Korea, only a little history from computer games and an awareness of the growing popularity of K-pop and the Gangnam district in Seoul. I also knew, from watching the “scary-funny” film The Host (can’t recommend enough) that archery is popular here which is interesting for me as I spent a couple of years learning during college. Baseball is by far the most popular sport here, which Mischa will probably talk about another time having been to a game in Seoul without me.

Our job here is to help clean a hostel with other volunteers. For working 12-3pm (or until you’ve finished, so usually earlier) 6 days a week we live in the hostel with free food to cook our own meals (bread, eggs, rice and kimchi with a small weekly allowance). They say in South Korea if you have rice and kimchi then you can eat. For the little hours we actually work, this is an amazingly good deal for us.

Our habit has become waking up late, working then going out in the afternoon/evening. Luckily here things happen later, shops are open late and bars and clubs stay open til 4 or 5am or later, when the metro starts running again. With this relaxed living our aim is to do one new thing everyday. Much calmer than our previous travelling style.

The best thing about the hostel we’re volunteering at is Princess Mango, the fluffiest cat in the world.

 

Nampo-dong

Nampo district is the second best thing about working at the hostel. The area contains Jagalchi fish market just 1 minute away from the hostel and several food and flea street markets in BIFF square and beyond. The Busan International Film Festival is held in October every year so the streets are lined with statues to pose with, hand imprints from the famous and many cinemas. From cute socks (everything is cute here, and yes we’ve both bought new socks!) to dried fish to pots and pans, you can find everything you want. However, I’m yet to find fabric and zips/buttons to add pockets to a dress. I’ll keep looking.

Streets are small and windy and crammed full of shops and vendors down the middle. Masses of people, from younger trendy friends and couples to older people kitted out in hiking gear, wander the streets filling up all the spaces yet motorbikes still insist on driving down them.

Walking around Gamcheon Cultural Village

During the war and after when space was at a premium, many small houses were built crammed together in a valley between two hills. It has since become a popular place for tourists due to the colourfulness of the houses, the funky graffiti and the steep steps winding through the alleys. The view of the village is of course better from above than from within, so I took myself to Geojeong metro stop and walked up and over the steep hill to the left of the village. Walking down to the edge of the village gave great views of the houses as well as two different coasts.

 

I walked down and through the village to the hill of its east side, which is viewable from our hostel. This hill contains many structured path ways but feels almost separate from the city. The tall trees block the view apart from the occasional glimpse of buildings, lights and sea. Lovely place to escape the city, just 20 mins walk away for us. Wherever you live in Busan, there is a hill to walk and relax in with wonderful views.

The sunset at Dadaepo beach

Busan is full of beaches, the most famous of which is Haeundae beach which we have yet to go to. Dadaepo however was recommended by fellow cleaners, who have spent many months living here, as the best place to view the sunset in Busan – and it was spectacular.

With sculptures on the beach and a landscaped stream area just behind, the area is set up for lots of people. It reminded us of the man-made scenic areas in China but with a less touristy feel. The beach itself is very flat, Mischa walked out to sea among the little fish for a long time with it not higher than his knees. We sat for a while watching the children play, the couples and young women taking posed photos and these two guys stopping and taking photos with their fancy cameras every couple of metres.

 

What is nice about this beach (and another beach we have been to) is the raised wooden walkways around the cliffs at the edge of the beaches. From here, with our overly expensive colourful ice cream (probably for children, oh well), we watched the sun turn deep red and go down behind the many hills in the distance.

Tsushima, Japan

On being reunited with Tan from Oldham who we met in Ulan-Ude, Russia, we took a bus for 30 mins to the bottom of Yeongdo-gu Island. Here, a nice 3km walk up, down and around the wooded hill gave us our first view of Japan – the island of Tsushima (or Daemado in Korean). Ok, so it’s not as clear on the photos as it was in real life… But still, our future in Japan awaits us!

 

Complete Photos

As we’re here for a month, this folder will keep on growing…

10 thoughts on “Beautiful Busan

    1. Kimchi is life in Korea!! People will have special fridges just for kimchi and the vegetable drawer in the fridge here has a massive bag crammed in there. It’s basically pickled/fermented vegetables, mostly cabbage, used as a side dish (or main with rice) for every meal here. It’s nice, but it’s super spicy, spicier than anything I had in China!

    1. Thank you! It’s been fun to write, it feels like I’m doing something useful by keeping a record. Haha maybe – Australia is a long way away though, but I met a well-travelled Chinese girl yesterday who said Australia is her favourite place in the world!

    1. Wonderful – that’s a good sign about Japan then! Two weeks to go and we’re starting to plan where to go and figuring out transport. I think first stop may be up to Hokkaido and Sapporo for more beer!

  1. How are you getting on with the steel chopsticks? Having used chopsticks all of my life – I found them really hard to use! I think that I was gripping too hard to keep them steady.

    Have you had Korean BBQ yet? (personally, I think it is better in Japan – lol)

    Happy Travels

    1. Ah the steel ones are difficult yes! It’s manageable when they’re at least round like wooden ones but we keep coming across flat metal ones – it’s like having to learn all over again.

      No Korean BBQ yet, yes will have to try here and in Japan then to compare! Fish is by far the most popular here but I did meet a Korean guy the other night telling how I have to try dog meat soup.

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