Four of my coworkers and I took a train down to the southeast coast of the country to a city called Busan. It is the second largest city in Korea, after Seoul of course. It is a port city and boasts loads of beaches. We wanted to escape Seoul and I've had my mind on a beach for a while! So, Friday morning around 5am, I got up and we took a 7:15 train to Busan.
Unfortunately, we are all cheapskates so we took the slow (and cheap) train. It took about 5 hours, and it was miserably boring. I was super tired from having slept for about 2 hours (we all went out for another coworker's birthday the night before), but I had trouble sleeping much on the train. It was nice because I had a window seat and could watch the countryside go past, but the sun made it hard to nap. It was a pretty uneventful trip. At one point I went for a little walk around the train and noticed so many people sitting in the aisles and in the areas between cars. I guess it's a few bucks cheaper to get an unassigned-seat ticket, but you have to either find an unoccupied seat or just stand/sit somewhere on the train. Thankfully we got assigned seats!
When we started to pull into Busan, the first thing I noticed was the sky. It was so blue! I don't really notice the smog here in Seoul too much, but when I saw Busan's sky I realized that it had been a while since I'd seen that kind of beautiful blue. It reminded me immediately of Miami ~ perfect blue sky, big buildings but that beach feeling in the air! I knew I was going to like this city...
We got off the train and took the subway to the area our hostel was in: Haeundae. It is the biggest beach area in the city. In fact, the beach at Haeundae is in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008 for the Most Parasols on a Beach (about 12,000 on 1.5 km of beach). During summer months, apparently it is almost impossible to even see the sand because it is covered in towels crammed chock-a-block and parasols. However, it wasn't this crowded for me!
We checked into our hostel and took a bit of a rest (most of us having barely slept the night before or on the train). Then we headed out in search of food. We went to Fuzzy Navel for Mexican food. As we walked through the streets, I was shocked at how many white people there were! Of course, I'd heard that Busan was "the" destination for English teachers with a 3day holiday. But, wow! It was about 50/50 Korean/Caucasian. We enjoyed our meal and relaxed for a bit just people watching. Then we walked by the beach and it was quite windy and cool. I was disappointed and nervous about how cool it was. I ONLY brought beach-wear and a jeans jacket. One pair of pants, which I was wearing on the train.
We hung out at the hostel and got ready for the evening. Tanya and Sean went to see a temple, but I opted to relax in our area. Meghan, Meg and I went exploring along the beach again in the evening and got to see part of the sunset. It was really beautiful! We took some pictures along the shore and walked quite a ways down the beach. We eventually decided to get some food, and I found a Korean BBQ place that looked great. We actually had to wait to be seated nearly 30 minutes, but I felt like that was a good sign. If Koreans enjoyed it that much, it was probably good.
It was a great atmosphere and we enjoyed the food (bulgogi, beef, and potato noodles) and drink (soju and beer of course!). We finally headed back to the hostel and collected Tanya and Sean for a night out. We stopped first at the Wolfhound Pub to appease Meg. Meghan and I aren't a big fan of large crowds of white people here in Korea, so we only lasted 30 minutes surrounded by so many "yellow haired" people (ha!)
We made our way outside and got some beers at the convenience store. We ended up just sitting on the beach for a while drinking and making friends. We met some Korean guys and some other English teachers that were nice. We then went to Noraebang (Karaoke)! It was super fun! But when I was walking out of the building one time, I tripped and cut my toe pretty good (dang sandals!) Someone we were with went and got me bandaids and I wrapped it up.
We finally made it home around 4am. It was a really fun night! We made friends with the other group of English teachers from Seoul and made plans to meet up with them again during the weekend.