Our first destination in South Korea was the coastal city of Busan. As it turned out our hostel was very close to the see, if it was not for the huge hotel/casino between us and the beach we could have seen the sand stretched wide in front of us. As we arrived in late afternoon, it was figured that it was a good time to go to the beach. It was quiet and, most importantly, significantly cooler than Vietnam. It was a welcome drop in temperature and one which I hoped would stick around.
The beach was clean very sandy, but what makes it most appealing is the contrast. At the far end stands half a dozen skyscrapers, seemingly just a fraction of the Busan business district. They were somewhat blurred in the summer haze, but their dominance over the beach could not be underestimated.
The following morning we headed away from the beach and into ththe centre of Busan city. For the first time on the trip we had a metro network at our disposal, which makes getting around 100x easier. A day ticket on the Busan metro is just 5000w, about £2. It was a lengthy journey with one change, but we were able to jump off right in the thick of things.
Biff square was an area which was flagged as a place to go, with its many shops and restaurants it made for an ideal start point. The busy streets are accompanied in many places by the string smell of seafood which seems to drift out of almost every food establishment. It is a lively and cultural part of an exciting city which is booming.
A point of note in Busan is the number of coffee shops. In some areas it feels as though every other shop front is selling coffee, be that Starbucks, another Korean chain or more niche places to grab a refreshing boost. It was the latter which we tried, a Carmel macchiato and sweet tea coming in at just over 5 pounds (Korean equivalent of course).
We ended the day with a walk up to a park which is located in the centre of the city and above all of the noise. Yongdusan park, or dragon head mountain park as it translates, is home to a waterfall, a grass clock which sits on top of a bush, and the 125 metre tall Busan tower. The buzz of the city below fades out and seems to become less of a distraction which up in the park , which is accessible by no less than four separate escalators.
In the foreground of the tower is a statue paying homage to Yi Sun-sin who led Korean forces to victory against the invading Japanese in the late 16th century. It is s humble structure, and with the tower behind it brings about elements of old Korea and the new.
The following day in Busan we decided to spend a few hours on the beach. With a cool breeze and the sun much less hot than in Vietnam, it was very enjoyable. It was a different beach to where we had walked to on our first night, but the contrast of skyscrapers and huge hotels with the natural elements of the beach remained.
Following several hours of soaking in the sun and atmosphere on the beach, we walked around to a sea bridge which stretches out to the left of the beach. Taking us underneath a cable car which connects two sides of the beachfront, the bridge provides excellent views of both the beach behind you and the sea in front.
Busan is a thriving metropolis of a city whilst at the same time being a calm seaside destination. From here we move north, but our one experience of a beach on this trip took us to a city which makes for a enjoyable few days stay.