My winter 2018 trip to Asia. Day 16 & 17. Busan, Korea

This is the last city I will visit in Korea. I have travelled from Seoul to Busan, passing by Daejeon, Buyeo and Gyeongju.

Busan strikes me as more Japanese like than the others. That doesn’t mean that it’s less Korean, but I guess that the proximity with the Japanese Island has shaped part of its culture.

My hotel is close to Sasang Station (사상역). This is convenient to get to the airport from the hotel. Sasang Station is a stop for Line 2 and for Busan–Gimhae Light Rail train that stops at Gimhae Airport (PUS). The airport code is PUS as the code still retains the old naming of the city.

In the year 2000, Korea changed Pusan to Busan (부산) because Pusan (푸산) sounds awful to Korean ears. Also, Inchon (인촌) became Incheon (인천). […] These changes occurred because the Korean government changed the rules regarding the writing Korean words using the English alphabet, called Romanization.  These changes pretty much sum up the differences between the two main Korean Romanization systems: MR (McCune-Reischauer) in 1939 and RR (Revised Romanization) in 2000.

Yun Chung. Pusan vs Busan, Sogang vs Seogang, and Peking vs Beijing. The Korea Times.

I take the Metro at Sasang Station and stop at Seomyeon. I walk down the main street until I reach the 40-steps stair. This stair and the area where is located recalls the history of refugees during the Korean war and their effort to reunify with family and friends.

As I continue walking south, the Busan Tower can be seen from afar. The tower is located at the Yongdusan Park. At the top of the tower, there is a panoramic view deck. From there, I can see all Busan. I like the perspective that you get from such altitude. I look at the streets I have been walking by, and the places I want to go.

Taking the escalator down from Yongdusan Park, I get to Gukje Market (남포동 국제시장). At the market, I buy some souvenirs. There is a lot to choose from. There are modern shops with the latest fashion, tourist shops with all kind of cheap souvenirs, street food stands, and much more.

I try Eomuk Tang at one of the stands. Another customer helps me to pour some of the soup into a paper cup. After I am finished, she asks me what I think about it. The food is delicious and is welcome on a cold day.

As it is close by, I go to Jagalchi Market. It is a fish market. All shops are thematically organised. In one sector, there are shops where people go to buy fish. In another, there are restaurants, dried fish or fishing gear. At several restaurants, the customers can choose what they want from the alive fish on display.

Next day, I start at Haeundae Beach (해운대해수욕장). In Busan, the days start cold. But, as the morning progresses towards noon, the temperatures rise. I take off my shoes and bath my feet in the sea water. I like to do this anywhere I go. London is the only exception that I can remember. I got close to the Thames and was not brave enough to touch the water.

The yellow sand in the beach, the blue water of the sea and the steel colour of the bridge create an astonishing view. A young couple gives me their phone, and ask for a picture. There are a few other people along the beach — most of them taking selfies or photos of each other. There is a bicycle rental. Along the coast, several men have left their bikes in the road and went down to the water fishing. Other people are exercising or admiring the landscape. I walk around the path being part of the scene.

Then, I repeat part of the path of the previous day. I go back to purchase a souvenir that I saw the previous visit and I was undecided about. When I choose a present, I like to tie it to some moment that we shared together. It is a shame that I cannot carry all home, so I need to choose carefully.