I took a trip to Busan last weekend. Located on the south-eastern tip of Korea, it is a hub of coastal activity and beauty. I fell in love with the city as soon as soon as I got off the KTX and ran into a bunch of children playing in the fountain outside the train station. There's no better sound in the world than that of children laughing and enjoying life.
Busan's salty air sent me into a fit of nostalgia. I was immediately taken back to my weekends in Goa, India, when my mother would take us to the seaside for a swim and some delicious coconut water. There's something so calming about the coastal breeze that's infused with the smell of fish and salt. I know this might not be appealing to everyone, but it offers me a sense of comfort. I absolutely love the coast!
This photo was taken in Jagalchi (world famous) Fish Market. It's a huge, multi-storey building that houses some of the freshest seafood in the entire country. Busan has about 10 famous landmarks for tourists to visit, and this happens to be one of them. We wanted to eat here during our first night, but the restaurants were rather pricey. Regardless, it was awesome to see it for ourselves.
This is a photo of Taejongdae lighthouse. It was one of the most breathtaking views I've ever had the privilege of seeing while in Korea. We had to walk up a hill and take a tram to get to the location, but it was absolutely worth it. The view consists of majestic cliffs that look out towards the open sea. What really amazed me were the numerous hues of blue from the sea and sky, which blended so perfectly into the horizon. I felt humbled and in awe as I experienced nature at its best.
Before visiting Busan, I came across an article in a Seoul magazine that showcased this beautiful village with fantastic photos. As soon as I read it, I knew I couldn't leave Korea without seeing this place firsthand.
Taegukdo village is located just east from the downtown core of Busan. A short ride on a local bus brought us to the top of this area, that's built right into the mountains. The view from here is unlike any other. The author who featured this village called it "Santorini on the South Sea," and, as you can see, the title is quite fitting. Busan promotes this beauty as a "Lego village" because the colourful houses look like Lego blocks neatly stacked along the side of the mountain.
The bus ride is quite interesting, as it goes up steep slopes and turns at ninety degree angles, only to go further uphill, all the way to the top. This was such a contrast to Seoul's numerous high-rises and lack of green space.
We spent our last day on Haeundae beach. Known as the world's most populated beach, Haeundae features locals and tourists alike, (most from Japan, who took the short ferry ride across to the Korean coast). At first glance, it's impossible not to be overwhelmed by the numerous white and blue parasols (beach umbrellas), and yellow floats. Most visitors to Haeundae aren't avid swimmers, but for about five dollars a day, they're able to rent a float and enjoy the beach waves just like the pros.
It was interesting to visit this beach and see what everyone talked about, firsthand. There are a lot of people and there's a lot to take in. Haeundae features everyone from large families and groups, to couples and friends. And I can't leave out the insensible fashionistas -- those who come to the beach in five-inch, pencil-thin heels, barely there bikinis, and over-sized hats. They wake up from tanning, long enough pose in the water, only to run (or trip, for the most part), as soon as the waves take them down. I should say those sights absolutely amused this writer!
That said, Busan has to be one of my favourite places in Korea. It's such a fabulous blend of old and new, with nature and the metropolis living in contentment. People seem to take life less seriously along the coast than they do in Seoul. Part of me wished I'd spent my year in Korea living in Busan. However, I know I also wouldn't trade my experiences over the past year for anything in the world. I hope I'll find myself in Busan once again down the road. But for now, the memories of my days spent in the sunshine of Korea's south-eastern coast will always hold a special place in my heart.