Crafts, Bongo Drums and the Paps

Having neglected Busan a bit lately to focus on sights closer to home, we became a bit desperate for the sights and sounds of The Big City.  So off we went last weekend with a list of things we wanted to see/do/buy.  We achieved none of our list, other than seeing the touring New Zealand show, The Arrival, playing as part of the Busan International Performing Arts Festival.

Not all was lost however…having arranged to meet our friend in Nampo-dong (not sure why, nothing we wanted to do was there but hey, its a cool area anyway) we sat down and fueled up with the first coffee of the day.  And took wanky photos of ourselves while we waited.

Seeing as we were in Nampo-dong, we decided we may as well head up the hill to check out one of the more touristy sights in Busan – Busan Tower.

Heading through Yongdusan Park toward the tower, we suddenly realised that we bang smack in the middle of the Busan Lotus Lantern Festival.  People were everywhere, there were weird inflatable creatures dotted around the place, monks were wandering about and there was even a craft stall where you could make your own lotus lamps.  We were dragged over to ‘enjoy’ craft time before we knew what was happening.

To give you the full effect, this is us standing in front of some creepy looking inflatable Korean dudes, holding our finished craft projects.  We so tourist!

Crafts completed, we continued on our mission and headed on over to the tower.  First stop on the magic elevator ride up the 118 metre tower was the observation level.  Korea is often clouded in a haze but the day was actually perfectly clear and the views incredible.

Now, it wouldn’t be Korea if there wasn’t a huge Lotte Mall dominating at least one of these photos.

Nor would it be Korea without being pestered constantly by someone taking endless photos of us doing the “V” sign…notice how our facial expressions start to look less and less impressed.

So one last arty tower shot before we kill someone…

At this point, we spot a promising looking doorway…

In true Dan & H-J style, the mere lure of a cafe puts the smiles back on our dials.  Which is just as well as the narrow stairwell prompts yet another round of taking our photos….

And we get our own back.  Except she looks really, freakin’ stoked about it.

H-J manages to avoid this round and makes a break for the cafe below.

Duly caffienated, we head back down the tour to take advantage of the up-sell we gleefully purchased with our Tower tickets – The Busan Museum of Musical Instruments of the World!  I mean, why wouldn’t ya?!

Dan gets into trouble almost immediately by banging away on some drums.  Apparently, the downstairs are of the museum is for “look only, no touch” and if we want to indulge our inner hippies, the place for that is upstairs in the “touching room”.

So we perform a cursory loop of the downstairs area…

then made like Koreans to kimchi up the staircase to make noise.

Approved banging this time.

And all the while, the paparazzi follow…

Our inner musicians sated, we start heading back towards the exit when suddenly Dan spies – A FORTUNE TELLING MACHINE!

Sadly, the full page print out is in Korean.  A rough translation from our friend ensured Dan that he would have a great life, a wonderful love, blah blah.  “That’s all very nice, but will he be rich?” H-J enquired…

Before we hit the return elevator back down to the park, we came across quite an extraordinary exhibition in the lobby.  Entitled “Meeting 1954 Korea in Color”, the photos show Busan and beyond just after the Korean war beside current photos of the city.  For a country that prides itself on its progress and industrialism you can imagine just how spectacular some of the changes are.  The photos were taken by an American army engineer, stationed in Korea throughout a difficult time in Korean history.  Though we knew nothing of this exhibition until we just happened past it, it is definitely worth seeing.

The day was getting away on us a bit by this stage, so we headed back through the lanterns and frivolity and made our way back down the tube of escalators, to Nampo and back to the subway.

Arriving in Kyungsung, we turned out the subway station and came across a banner for the show we were on our way to see!  We took this a sign we were on the right track. 

We thought wrong.  But it didn’t matter, we still got there with plenty of time to pick up our tickets and see the show.  The Busan Cultural Centre is a massive, beautiful building perched atop a hill in Daeyon, looking down over a gorgeous nighttime view.  Unfortunately, our getting-crappier-by-the-day camera couldn’t quite capture this so we’ll just throw in a picture of the building instead.

After the show, it was time to start heading back to the village on the stock-standard combination of multiple subway rides/train/taxi to Deoksin.  Sigh.  It really sucks when you have a 9.20pm Saturday night curfew in order to be able to make it home – the suckfullness of this combined with the lack of our getting anything we actually MEANT to do done and being stalked by the paps all day prompted another bout of angst fueled Haiku by Dan.

The plus side, of course, is that we just have to another trip to Busan…SOON!

Categories: Korea, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Beautiful photos of the city from the tower!

  2. Love the view from the tower! I liked your crafts too. And those weird cartoonish statues. Paparazzi. LOL. I hated being blonde in Asia. China was the worst. People treated me like a zoo exhibit. Sneak up beside the lion and snap a picture. It was really weird and uncomfortable.

    • Crazy times standing out in these parts of the world eh?! I (H-J) have dreadlocks and Dan has long-ish hair and a beard – people think we’re freaks here! Some days its endearing to feel like a celebrity, other days its just tiring…

      • Totally agree. At first it was kind of cool, but then it was really annoying. I felt like an exhibit at the zoo. No one asked to take a picture with me. They just siddled up to me and tried to steal one. It was really bizarre and uncomfortable. At least in Seoul, people approached and asked. I was happy to do it then.

      • Oh, that’s really funny. I’m sure it is tiring after a while though. Awesome pics of a spontaneous, really fun day 🙂

  3. “You so tourist”! That was fun and I loved all the intsruments 🙂

  4. Those pictures from the tower are wonderful!!! Thanks!! I’m desperately afraid of heights and will never, ever make it up there. ^_^
    Was that 1954 photo exhibition in the tower? Or could I just sneak in and see it?

  5. I’m catching up again on blog posts. Thanks for your patience! 🙂

  6. wow, what a post of photos and fun!

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