Last weekend, Korea celebrated Buddha’s birthday by having a three day weekend. Which pretty much rules. So taking the opportunity to escape the village for more than an afternoon, we headed off bright and early to get to the bright lights of the big city, Busan.
En route, we made a quick stop to the Namchang cafe that Dan has been talking up. You may remember we had intended to visit last weekend but had been distracted by drinking beer beside the whale restaurant, as you do. Anyway, we started the weekend as one should with a breakfast of pretty good coffee and waffles with ice cream. The 40 minute wait was a little ridiculous as was, it turned out, the idea of having ice cream for breakfast but at least we can tick it off the list.
Duly fueled, it was time to break free from village life.
The weather has definitely cranked up a heat notch or two of late and as the rugged Kiwis that we are, we have been dying to get to the beach for a swim. While Haeundae is the most famous beach in Korea, its extremely busy and touristy even in the crappy weather. With swimming in our sights, we were keen to check out its nearest rival, Songjeong.
We hopped off the train and walked down an odd little alleyway…
At the end of which was this stunning beach stretching out in front of us. Awesome. It looked like after the failure of Jinha Beach and the touristy mecca of Haeundae we had finally hit paydirt. And it was a scorcher of a day.
By Korean standards, its still far too cold for them to be swimming yet. Beaches here are officially ‘open’ for swimming July/August each year until around 4pm in the afternoon. Hehe. So while many people were enjoying the sand and sun, the water was relatively empty and we keen as beans to get our dose of salt water.
As Dan tends to do when he sees stuff that looks fun for climbing, he got very excited. And ran off to climb said rocks.
Songjeong rocks and totally got our little Kiwi hearts singing with joy over the advent of summer!
Time to head into the main part of the city, we hopped on a packed bus, had a nap and winged it as we really had no idea where it was going. Luckily, it headed in a path that led us straight to our next destination…
Seedy Dive! Oh yes, in honour of our being able to take a couple days out we hooked up a return visit to the place that had served us so well on our way to Beijing last year. And wouldn’t you know it, now we were return customers we were treated to the premium suite of pimpitude for the same paltry sum of $30.
Mirrors, a curved bed, a window in the bedroom overlooking bathroom…what more could you want?! Maybe some Man Touch lotion (!) and some mosquito spray. Awesome!
After revelling in the glory of seedy dive (while once again not really wanting to touch or inspect anything TOO closely) we headed off for a low key evening in Busan of, well, just being in a city really! A couple of beers and some yakitori at a nearby Japanese joint, a requisite pie and Monteiths stop at the Kiwi Bar, Beached, and a cocktail or two along the Gwangalli strip saw us winding down the day.
The following day was even hotter which pretty much made the decision that we’d devote a token bit of time to the city proper and then head back to Songjeong for the remainder of the day. Discovering a random alleyway with a cafe tucked down the back, it lured us in with the sign proclaiming ‘roasting house’. We opted for a table in the sun – much to the horror of the staff – and spent a fiver which got us beautiful coffee, a salad, egg and toast with jam. Rock on!
Being in the hood of the Nampo Lotte Department Store, we thought we’d head in for a closer inspection than we’d previously had time for. In the tradition of all things Biggest and Bestest, this particular mall is home to the world’s largest indoor musical water fountain AND the largest rooftop park in Korea. Every hour, on the hour, the fountain erupts into a 10 minute water, light and music display of proportions unfathomable. Its hard to explain too much (you really have to see it) but the sheer engineering of this show is mind boggling. And arrogant. When we’re rich, we are SO getting an indoor fountain that makes water fall in the shape of our names…
Yes folks, that is WATER falling from the ceiling spelling out the word Lotte.
Suffice to say, photos don’t do something like this justice but if you happen to be in Busan go check it out. Its free, its impressive and it might just provide you with some inspiration for that latest home renovation project.
We spent a few more hours getting our fill of the city in the form of subways, large buildings, shopping (fantastic in the PNU area!), snacking and spending more money than we needed to, all the while with Songjeong beckoning to us to return and get in that last swim of the weekend before heading back to the village. Powerless to resist, we enjoyed a few more hours of beach, a couple of beers by the water as it turned to night and with that the escape part of the weekend was a wrap. Bliss.