Sunday, July 6, 2014

South Korea Part 3

I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July full of fireworks and great food! Now that the long weekend is over it's time to jump back into my trip to Korea!

Right after Gyeongju we jumped back in the car and headed for Busan, way down at the southern tip of the country and the second largest city after Seoul. 

We met up again with Lydia's cousins from Daejon for dinner at a traditional restaurant- think sitting on the floor and taking your shoes off at the door. Busan is known for its special version of galbi, or spare ribs (again, made right at the table!). A bunch of side dishes are usually set out before, with everyone getting the same, and then you grab the meat as it cooks. When the meat is all gone they used the same grill to make potato noodles- the combination of the noodles and the flavor left from the meat is delicious

Each little doorway leads to a different private room within the restaurant.

On a beach in Korea with my best friend? This trip was insane. 

This is where the Busan International Film Festival is held.

The next morning we had breakfast at the Westin Chosun, and this was our view! One wall of the restaurant is completely glass and looks out over Hayeundae Beach. 

After breakfast we ventured down to the Jagalchi fish market, but first we had to stop for a little street food: hotteok is like a fat pancake stuffed with syrup and nuts. It's almost like a beignet but not quite as good (still pretty good!).

Jagalchi is the largest seafood market in South Korea and seemed to offer every kind of fish you could want. It's all caught in the morning and set out at both the outdoor and indoor portions of the market. I'm not gonna lie, I thought this would be a little gross or the smell would be overpowering. 

The smell? Not that bad, possibly because everything is fresh or that we were mostly outdoors. The market actually ended up being a lot of fun, and definitely something I would recommend for being visiting Korea for the first time- it's an experience!

Yep, that's a bucket of LIVE octopus. One of them tried to escape and decided to jump out of the bucket while we were taking a picture in front of it. Lydia and I both felt a splash on the back of our legs and turned around to find a pretty big one slithering towards us. Before we could freak out the woman at the stall had promptly thrown him back in with the others.

The rest of our day was spent shopping at Busan's outlet malls as well as Shinsegae, the largest department store in the world. 

This place never ends...

Just before sunset we headed out to these adorable twin lighthouses off of one of Busan's rocky beaches. It was such a strange view and I felt like suddenly we were in Newport or Nantucket, not Busan!

Busan's most famous spot is probably Haeundae Beach. It was pretty empty when we went, but during the summer it becomes a mile-long wall of people and umbrellas. The weather was perfect and reminded me of California during spring break!

We then jumped over to the Nurimaru APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) House, which houses conferences but mainly boasts incredible views of the coastline. The conference center is situated along a pathway full of runners and dog walkers that leads to a little observation deck where you can see a big part of Busan's skyline as well as, on a clear day, a few of the outlying islands. 

Then (getting tired of jumping from place to place? Imagine how we felt!) we went for dinner and more Busan-style galbi. The view wasn't too bad, either.

Speaking of views, after dinner we drove up to the top of one of the many mountains that surround Busan. After spiraling around the mountain for about 15 minutes we reached the top, and our reward was a complete 360 degree view of the entire city! If you have ever been up on Mulholland Drive in L.A., forget it. This view will blow your mind. At the top of the mountain there are also old fire pits used to warn other cities of coming attackers. 

Busan may have been my favorite city that we visited (but it is tied with Seoul), and I would love to go back and visit again. Busan has everything and is filled with so many sites to see and things to do (and delicious food). While I was sad to leave Busan, our next stop was Seoul, so stay tuned!

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