Good news first, Hazel’s fingers are recovering well and at the time of writing, they are almost back to 100%.
We just came back to Singapore for a few days before heading to Perth. Read all about our twelve days in Korea in this and the next post.
BBQ & Bath = Busan
After a night in Seoul near the airport, we straightaway headed down to Busan by bus. The fantastic transportation system in Korea was just as we had remembered it from our trip a few years back. Everything is very well organised and it’s easy to get around.
The five hours bus ride brought us across the country and beside a nap we had plenty of time to watch the lovely autumn colours all around us.
After checking in to our hotel in Busan we headed straight to our first Korean BBQ for lunch. If you have been to Korea you know that it’s a big thing and you can find an outlet at almost every corner. A yummy start to our journey.
The next highlight was as Korean as the BBQ – Spa Land. Bathhouse culture is very popular and Spa Land in Busan is probably the best (and for sure most modern) SPA in Korea. For about 10 USD you can soak yourself for four hours in various baths (fully naked) and enjoy a range of saunas (they give you a pyjama). Super relaxing.
Colourful Gamcheon Culture Village
The next day we visited the colourful Gamechon Culture Village. This village is kind of a community and art project and a lot of houses are decorated with murals and gimmicks. Definitely a nice concept and needless to say a tourist attraction.
Afterwards, we were heading to Gukje Market which sells everything under the sun including lunch and some nice coffee. For dinner, we had Fried Chicken – the other super popular dish in Korea.
For the evening entertainment, we came by an open mic session with a pretty decent PSY imitator.
Bird View of Busan
The next day it was time for some culture and to burn some calories. We took the subway to Busan’s suburbs to visit the pretty Beomesa temple. The temple is nestled in the forest and has a very charming feel to it. It even came with a resident cat.
I decided to hike up the fortress walls and to the 800 meters high mount Geumjeongsan. Hazel, having enough broken fingers already decided to stay at the temple.
The uphill hike through a lovely autumn landscape took about 70 minutes and was definitely a good workout. A fantastic 360-degree view of Busan and its suburbs was a worthwhile reward.
It is also always fun to watch Koreans while hiking. It’s one of their favourite pastimes and they often have top-notch gear even for hiking (in Switzerland we would call it ‘walking’) up a neighbourhood hill.
Jeonju, about halfway to Seoul was our next stop for one night. The village is famous for its traditional Hanok houses.
When in Korea do as the Korean do and so we opted for a stay in a traditional accommodation. This translated into a thin mattress on the floor of a lovely wooden house.
Despite a lot of tourists (it was Sunday) we enjoyed walking around the town admiring the old houses and hidden back alleys. It was also the first time that we needed the thicker jackets in the evening as it was getting colder.
The next day started with a sumptuous traditional breakfast – crab soup with about ten side dishes before catching a train to Suwon.
Getting there: Very easy, just take a flight. Seoul connects to almost everywhere in the world (minus perhaps North Korea).
Getting around: You can go almost everywhere in Korea by bus. Every town and city has a bus station which is normally connected to the subway system in the cities. Costs are reasonable – Seoul to Busan was around 30 USD per person.
Busses run frequently and you can just show up and buy a ticket. A google search helps with the connections. Busan has three bus terminals so you need to figure out from which one your bus leaves.
Trains are the other main mode of transportation. The high-speed trains are quite a bit more expensive than the busses but the local trains are comparable in price.
Seoul and Busan have a very extensive subway system and most bigger towns run local buses. Best is to get a cashless transportation card which can be used throughout the country (you can buy one at bigger stations).
Where to sleep:
Incheon Aiport: Our flight only arrived at 9h30 pm and so we stayed one night at the Incheon Airport Ocean Side. More than good enough for one night and they provide free transfer to/from the airport.
In Busan, we stayed at the Busan View Hotel. Nicely located next to the train station (although we took the bus in the end).
In Jeonju, we booked our accommodation through Airbnb – plenty of choice.
What to eat: Korean BBQ and Fried Chicken can be found at every corner. Just pick one where you see a lot of locals. Food is relatively cheap so you definitely won’t go hungry.