Spontaneous Busan Weekend
One of my favourite things about Korea is how small it is. Thanks largely to how easy it is to get around the country (being right in the middle helps too!), it is common among my friends to travel on the weekend. The first weekend in May, I found myself on the train to Busan with vague plans to see a parade, hit up a casino and spend some time on the beach.
I got into Busan late Friday night and headed to a bar in Haeundae that not only faced the beach, but was on the 14th floor so the ocean view was beautiful. Saturday started with a late lunch and after wandering around Haeundae, we decided it was time for a change of scenery and headed over to Gwangalli Beach which is considerable smaller but also much less crowded than Haeundae. I actually like Gwangalli better than Haeundae because the bars and restaurants along the pier are actually on the beach. Haeundae is so massive, the supposed beach front places end up being quite far from the shoreline.
After settling in, we decided that it was imperative to visit the amusement park that we passed in the taxi. The amusement park near Gwangalli is fairly small so admission was only 14,000 W (about 12.50 CDN), but there was a drop zone, pirate ship and roller coaster. What more can you ask for? Previous to Korea, my experience in amusement parks had been limited to North America so one of the things I love about amusement parks in Korea is that you see things that you would never expect to see at an amusement park back home.
This roller coaster car doesn’t work anymore but instead of having it repaired or throwing it away, we will leave it here to inspire confidence in the people who decide to put their lives in the hands of this ride.
The most curious thing about this boat, besides the fact that it was sitting under the supports for the roller coaster, was that there was no ride in the park that used them … at least as far as we saw. So either this is a real boat, or for some reason they’ve kept a car, well boat, for a ride that no longer exists.
If you look closely at the top left corner of the picture, right at the top of the track, you will see that there is a bird’s nest there. There was a bird living in it and every 30 seconds when the roller coaster went by it would fly to the ball in the center and then able back towards its net, settle back in, only to get frightened by the next car coming around the corner. Seems strange that it would continue to live there.
After the amusement park, we went to Jung-gu (where Busan Tower and a giant Lotte Department store are) to see the parade for Buddha’s birthday. Cue the longest parade that I have ever seen in my entire life (okay, the only one – but the general consensus was that this parade was ridiculously long). I’m fairly certain that every adjumma (old lady) between Daejeon and Busan was there carrying a lotus lantern.
After the parade, went back to Haeundae because there is a casino in one of the hotels. It was the first time I had been in a casino since I was 18 (the legal age to gamble in Ontario) mostly because I found the casino at home to be really depressing. Gambling is illegal for Koreans, so you need to show your ARC card to get into the casinos here which means you don’t see the little old ladies plugged into slot machines like you see at home. Anyways, I spent the evening playing roulette and although I was terrible at picking black or red, I managed to defeat the numbers game and walk away with a bit of money. Casinos in Korea also offer free drinks, which is pretty rad.
After the casino, we went to one of the famous fish restaurants along the coast. This restaurant was different from your average fish eating establishment in that you actually choose the fish that you will eat. When you go in, the entire first floor is full of dozens of tanks with all different types of fish. You tell the lady which one you want, and then follow her upstairs to eat it.
Some of the stranger looking species available for eating.
“We’ll take that large, flat one there.” “Yo-gi? (Here)” “Neh (Yes)”.
While we were in the elevator with the fish in the bucked, it had one gasping last breath of air which was vaguely unsettling.
Sunday was spent the way Sundays should be, doing nothing. We ate brunch at restaurant called Thursday …. something? which is located right along the waterfront at Gwangalli beach and then hung out in the neighbourhood near Busan Station until it was time for our train. We did find two random things in that area; one being the Russian district (no, no, not like that!) and the other was an innocuous looking bar that was full of foreign treasures including dark toblerone, deodorant and various other canned and jarred goods.
I am going to Busan again for the Memorial Day long weekend to take in the sand festival in a couple days, so I figured I should get one trip to the city posted before I go on another one! There have been some other cool adventures lately, so hopefully more posts in the coming weeks.