Sunday, November 12, 2017

train to busan;

i feel like i'm SO behind on my blogging.
i've been meaning to blog about korea but the task just felt overwhelming.
but i guess i better get to it before i forgot what even happened on the trip haha.

so back in mid-sept, my mom, older sister and i headed over to korea for a short trip.
our last korea trip was 2014, three years ago, so needless to say i was super excited to eat and shop in korea haha.
my mom and sister flew from singapore and i flew over from LA.
i took asiana airlines this trip (i usually fly singapore airlines) and was super impressed!
their service was good and the food was good so the plane ride there and back was actually enjoyable and i would definitely fly them again.
my bibimbap meal on the plane

the first thing i did right after landing in at seoul incheon airport was take the KTX to busan, hence the 'train to busan' title of this blog post since i'll focus on the busan part of the trip first haha.
the KTX is super convenient cause there's a KTX stop right at the airport so you don't even have to leave the airport to get to the city.
you can book your KTX tickets online 30 days ahead of your trip and then just print your tickets at home. 
we did the korail pass which was much cheaper for a roundtrip ticket - we did a 2 day select pass since we stayed a couple of days in busan.
you basically purchase the korail pass and then you use it to reserve your ticket to busan and then back from busan.
everything was super convenient.
the only thing is, you'll want to make sure to do is get to the station 20 mins or so early to make sure that you get to the train platform when they open the doors 15 mins before departure.
this is to ensure that you will have enough space to store your luggage.
they have overhead compartment areas that you can store your luggage but if your luggage is big and heavy, it's much easier to store it in the luggage storage area closer to the train doors. 

i landed in the morning and took the 9 plus train to busan.
and since i managed to sleep quite a bit on the plane, i actually wasn't even sleepy at all and so i just spent the train ride relaxing, looking out the window, watching shows on my phone (they have free wi-fi on the trains), etc. 
the train ride took 3 and a half hours from the airport but felt really fast haha.

got to busan train station and made my way over to our AirBnb using the subway.
so if you're wanting to take the subway, you'll need to exit the train station, walk straight out closer to the main road and then there is a subway entrance right by the bus stop. 
got to the AirBnb pretty quickly, showered and then went to meet up with my mom & sis.
of course i had to start things off with a banana milk haha

we spent a total of 3 and a half days in busan and here's a rough itinerary of what we did:
Day One
- Taejongdae
Getting there: We stayed in the Seomyeon area so there was a direct bus from where we were at to Taejongdae.

  • We took bus 88 from the bus stop at Exit 1 of the Seomyeon subway station. The bus stop is 150+m from the exit but if you just exit and keep walking, you'll see it.
  • The bus fare is 1,200 won and the bus ride takes approximately 40 mins.
  • Taejongdae is the last stop so you don't have to worry about missing your stop. From the bus stop, just follow the road and walk uphill for 10 mins toward the main entrance. 
taejongdae was A LOT of walking. usually they have a danubi train that takes you round the whole area and to the different attraction points in the whole area but when it's bad weather (winter or raining), the train doesn't run and so you have to walk to the different spots. it's a lot of walking and a lot of uphill too so lots of good exercise but it definitely killed our legs right from the start of our trip haha. as you can see from the pictures though, it's a really pretty area by the water and is just relaxing and pretty. we also had lots of time to chat and enjoy each other's company while slowly walking. 

- Dinner at the clam tents: So close to the entrance of Taejongdae, as you exit, if you turn left and go down the path (it looks kind of sketchy haha) right next to the little convenience store right there, you'll walk all the way down to where they have the famous clam tents. This was by far one of my favorite meals of the trip. Just imagine yummy, creamy clams grilled right in front of you. It was so fresh too! We also had a funny experience at the restaurant - ask me about it if you want to hear it haha. 
will you please admire how good that looks! the young guys working there were super nice and grilled our clams for us too cause we obviously looked lost about adding the cheese and grilling the clams, etc. but omg, SO GOOD! make sure you get the jogaegui - that's the clams. there's also options for like prawns and abalones, etc. but the clams are what they're famous for.   
this was the store we went to but really, all the stores in that same stretch are pretty much all the same so just pick one haha. we sat on the second floor on the patio and so it was nice cause it was right by the water and so it was relaxing and enjoyable eating our fresh seafood. 

Day Two
- Gamcheon Culture Village: Also known as the Santorini of Korea because of their colorful houses that look like Santorini's houses. 
  • From Toseong subway station, come out from Exit 6. Facing the intersection, turn right at the corner and walk straight. You will see a hospital on your right. Take Bus Saha 1-1, Seogu 2 or Seogu 2-2 from the bus stop in front of the hospital. This will take you to Gamcheon Culture Village at the top of the hill - you'll want to get off at the elementary school bus stop.
the main spot in gamcheon that everyone wants to go to where there's a little prince statue
we found this second level viewing area with great views that no one else had discovered so we were the only ones up there. it was so pretty!
there are lots of cute little shops as you walk up the hill to get to the little prince statue.(note: lots of walking at gamcheon culture village as well haha). lots of cute shopping and snack places along the way. there's also this little cute staircase area where the steps are painted to look like book spines. on the whole, i really loved the overall feel of this area.

- Lunch at Choryang Milmyeon: Milmyeon is one of the famous foods in Busan so we had to go try it. Usually I'm not a fan of cold noodles but omg, the bibim milmyeon was really good! And then we got mandu as well, which were huge and so good too. 
  • From Exit 7 of Busan subway station, walk straight toward Kookmin Bank. The restaurant is right beside it after the store selling mattresses. 
as you can see, the mandus are huge so just order one tray haha. 2 trays were way too ambitious haha. 

- Walked around BIFF square, Jagalchi market, Gukje market, Nampo dong, etc. This is a popular tourist area with lots to see, shop, eat and do. BIFF square is also where they have the hand prints of celebrities embossed on the ground since that's where they have the Busan International Film Festival each year. They also have a pretty big Artbox here - one of my favorite stores in korea haha. 
  • Jalgalchi subway station
another one of those must try food items in busan - ssiatt hotteok is a pancake like thing with brown sugar, cinnamon and lots of nuts in it. 
the seafood at the wet markets there are crazy big

- Explored Yongdusan Park and enjoyed the night view of the city at Busan Tower
  • Nampo station, Exit 7. Upon exiting the station, turn left onto Gwangbok-ro Street. Walk approx. 160m to arrive at Yongdusan Park (look out for the escalator on your right). This area also has lots of shopping if you wanted to do some shopping before going to Busan Tower. 
  • At Yongdusan Park, you can see the Statue of the Great Admiral Yi Soon-Shinm the Bell of the Citizens, a flower clock and a bust of the Busan-based independent activist, Baeksan An Hee-je.
the Busan Tower was newly opened when we went there so it wasn't too crowded. we went up right around sunset so the view was pretty. 

- Our legs were seriously dying by the time we got done with Busan Tower so we decided to head back to our apartment - we walked for a little at the underground shopping center at Seomyeon and then had ramyun for dinner in the comfort of our AirBnb haha. Best decision ever haha.

Day Three
- Started our day at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple - a famous temple by the warers.
  • Haeundae station, Exit 7. Take bus 181 and get off at Yonggungsa Temple bus stop and then walk in to the temple.
make sure you apply some sort of mosquito or insect repellent cause i seriously got bitten SO fast haha.
seriously love how pretty their tiles are
the temple was pretty but honestly quite far out so i'm still trying to decide if i feel that it was a worthwhile trip haha. but if it's your first trip to busan i think most people visit the temple. warning: lots of steps to climb too haha.
we spent a lot of time on buses in busan

 - Lunch at Wonjo Halmae Gukbap: Gukbap (basically soup and rice literally) is one of the famous food dishes in Busan and there is a Gukbap Alley close to Haeundae Beach. 
  • Haeundae Station, Exit 5. Walk straight and turn left when you see the church. Keep walking and then the restaurant will be on your left. 

you can choose to have the rice already inside your bowl of soup with meat or you can have the rice separately to eat on the side. 

- Hung out at Haeundae Beach for a little - it was foggy that day so we couldn't see much. 

- Headed from one beach to another famous beach in Busan - Gwangalli Beach where we biked for a little and then stayed till the sunset so we could watch the bridge light up.
  • Geumryeonsan Station, Exit 1 or 3. Make a U-turn and turn on the first street toward the beach. Just keep walking straight till you reach the beach. To make use of the free bike service, you'll need to head toward the right when you get to the beach and just follow the road as it curves toward the beach town apartments (close to building #301) to the right. They operate the free bike rental until 7 p.m. and you can have the bikes for a maximum time of 2 hours. You'll need to bring your passport to register for the bikes. 
foggy foggy bridge
starting to light up 
SO pretty once it was all lighted up - this bridge is also known as the diamond bridge because of how it looks lighted up at night.

- Last destination for the night: Dinner and night view at The Bay 101
  • Dongbaek Station, Exit 1. Walk straight out of the exit for 11 minutes until you get to The Bay 101.
really pretty night view with the buildings as the backdrop

Day Four
- We spent the first part of our day in Busan before getting on a train in the afternoon to head over to Seoul.
- Stored our bags in the luggage storage lockers at Busan station - i love this about Korea cause then we didn't need to worry about lugging our luggage around after checking out of our AirBnb.
- Explored Yu Chi-Hwan Post Box/Observatory Area. Getting here was a nightmare because they stopped operating the bus that goes up here. We ended up taking a cab and apparently the cab drivers are not familiar with this tourist attraction so you have to make sure to have the exact address for the place if you want to take the cab up. There is another bus that we ended up taking back to Busan station that you can take up there but i didn't write it down and don't remember what bus number it is now :(
early morning deli manjoo after storing our bags since we saw manjoo with melon custard cream! i still prefer the original custard cream though haha.  
the view from above was pretty even though it was a lot of industrial buildings, etc. 
there's a cafe just two flights of steps down from the observatory where you can purchase postcards to mail and the special part about this postbox is that it sends the postcard to you one year later. so we'll see if it comes in the mail next sept.
mailing my postcards :)

- Lunch at Bujeon Station 이모산곰장어 - grilled eel is another one of their famous dishes; the eel is cooked over coal briquettes.
  • Bujeon Station, Exit 1. Walk straight toward the Bujeon train station sign and it's to the left of the sign.  
it was a little too chewy for my liking - more of a squid texture compared to unagi texture which i was expecting haha. 
it was still delicious though after putting rice and seaweed in and making it into fried rice.

- Bought Busan famous fish cakes from Samjin Eomuk for a snack for the train ride. I especially loved the eomuk croquettes - the sweet potato one was my favorite but they have all sorts of flavors.
  • 2nd floor of Busan Station
And there you have it, our Busan adventures. Phew, that was a long post so i'll save the Seoul portion of the trip for the next blog post.
Even though we walked till we were dying in Busan, i really enjoyed the area and the different sights and different foods since we usually stay in Seoul when we go to Korea. 
I was glad to finally get the chance to venture out to Busan :)
People are definitely not as friendly in Busan but it's pretty easy to get around and there's seriously so many temples and bridges and more attractions that we just couldn't cover in the few days we were there.