Busan (South Korea) – 28 km (bike is swimming)
08 May 2016
For the last few days I have been a tourist in Busan, Korea’s 2nd largest city, 4 Mill people.
Moreover, Busan is the 4th largest container port in the world, and now you can go and look which are the preceding three …
In one of them might be my motorcycle waiting to be free-ed! Which one!!?
As the sip has actually not arrived yet, I stopped worrying and instead decided to walk the actual cbd a bit more. ‘CBD’ might not be the right word, as there seem to be several cbds, same as in Guangzhou. It appears in them Asian-mega cities there is no single defined cbd, as we may know in downunder, or even Germany. Here, the cbd I refer to, is right at the footstep of the main railway station. It is hemmed-in by the station (behind it the port area starts) and a forested mountain, naturally with a temple on top, Mt. Eomgwangsan. The tourist office, now one of my most-visited places – made me aware of several ‘walks’ in the area. So off I go!
Walkway with the brown colour-code, up the hill into the forest towards the temple, befitting as it is/has been Buddha’s birthday. This walkways was badly sign-posted, so I got lost a few times. But thanks to ‘maps.me’ I found myself again. I absolutely recommend this free app as it works without needing a sim nor wifi. At one stage although I took a much too adventurous route ending up in the forest in front of a high fence, back-track and stay on the road! Climbing up the steep city alleys and steps to the mountain overlooking Busan I had some great views back down the hill over city and port.
Here one also realised that even whilst Busan is glitzy with lots of shiny high & modern buildings
turn into a side street and then perhaps another one you instantly realise you could be in almost any Asian city. The infrastructure is broken, rubbish, smell of the over-loaded sewerage, perhaps the overhead electrical cables are a tad more organised then say PnomPhen or Ho-Chi-Minh city. Forgive me my ignorance not being able to distinguish between the various dissimilarities, to some they might be obvious. I’ll work on it 😉
Still, always upwards and onwards towards the temple. I finally arrive at the forest’s edge and more steps await me. I got muscles in my legs I didn’t even know I had before, now the say: Stop!
So now I am sitting in an almost idyllic spot, a brook to my left, surrounded by forest and possibly best air available in Busan. I can hear the chanting of a monk, perhaps connected to Buddha’s birthday or is it his daily ritual, as is when one is a monk (J.T. can you clarify). My idyll is spoilt by mozzies so I wander on- and more up-wards reaching, according to my interpretation of the signposts to Adolf Hitler’s secret hideout.
Turns out it is a small, one-monk temple, colourfully decorated inside. Mr. Monk walks past in grey robes (I want one as they look comfy) with a cordless drill in his hands. He and his little helper are about to hang up a sign, all Korean writing, and it was almost slapstick to watch them both.
Downwards another spot invites me to sit and write more of these lines.
I am still in the woods, albeit (not a babe) just and look over the roofs of the Beomeosa Temple down to the city and harbour.
A constant fresh breeze keeps the mozzies away, however I am almost certain the wind brings me the smog from the city. You can see the haze in most shots.
Me thinks I can’t wait riding in Siberia with little pollution and fresh, even cold, air around my nose.
Bring on Siberia!! … but wait, I need my bike
On that same day, feeling inspired and subsequently over-reach … I did another walk.
This one, the MoonTan walk is a little east of Haeundae Beach. The latter is Busan’s answer to Bondi. I can’t help noticing that almost every adult wears shoes in the sand. Only kiddies splash in the Pacific waters.
The MoonTan, well, it says it in its name. A mildly hilly walk between Haeundae and Songjeong beach, to be taken with your wife, partner, lover (one at the time please) in full moon and having plenty of romantic thoughts and notions.
The path runs below Dalmaji-gil Road, something equivalent to the – previously unrestricted- Kew Boulevard in Melbourne. Very curvy and motorcyclist pay NIL attention to continuous lines on the road, nor speed limits. I see a parked RT and try to talk to the rider, albeit he is bar of English as much as I am bar of Korean.
I really like to find out if there is a bmw motorcycle club here. Would be a hoot to attend so meet or similar.
So I walk the MoonTan walk not in moonlight and also on my own, still enjoying the views, the forest and find myself in a craft market with 10 stalls of home-made craft. All appears to me a little kitschy, however it saves me contemplating to load more stuff on the bike. This small event with – let’s be nice “restricted selection, is being advertised on the official Korean Tourist website as a ‘must see’. Port Moresby’s Saturday craft market is way more colourful!
In the end, I am all walked out and return to ‘my’ eatery for dinner.
Let me tell you about it: upon arrival at my hotel I was pointed by my non-English speaking host to a little restaurant, just around the corner, as my room wasn’t ready. Well since it was lunch time, why not? I had been up since the previous morning, travelling through the night from Seoul to Busan by train. Although I felt a little ‘crumpled’ I went! Turns out, it isn’t really a Restaurant, rather a little larger version of the mother-and-daughter-kitchen I had been eating first in Seoul. It is the eating spot for taxi drivers, my mates 😉 The TV shows non-stop baseball. No English menu so I look on the sign at the wall – still all in Korean writing. A choice of four – to me indistinguishable – dishes are listed ranging between 5000 and 7500 Won between $A 6 – 9.00. I pick the middle-range priced dish and quick smart something arrives on a large tablet steaming and bubbling hot. I have a pot of rice, a soup with ??? and seaweed, several dishes with green, leafy vegetables, a dish with worms or fish stuff – dunno, will eat it anyways. “Ma-shiss-oss-o-yo” meaning “that was delicious!”
So naturally I return next evening, look around what’s on the tablet for the locals, point to one and here it comes!
I trust’em, they bear with me, I don’t mind having no English menu, they don’t mind me not speaking Korean – all part of the experience.
I have been eating there now every evening. I get variety, honesty, sometimes even a really tasty dish and it’s more than I can eat for max. 9 bucks! It almost feels familiar and I guess that might be something solo-travellers seek out. Trying to replace a void – so says Sigmund F. (forgive me Wolfie for quite-possibly making this up).
Enough about Busan for one blog. I might share some more observations later.