Sunday, June 04, 2006


Although it's the country's second-largest city and the world's fourth-busiest container port, Busan has a cosmopolitan city-in-waiting feel manifest in its populace's gauche urban temperament and a quirky custom of banging into strangers in public places.

- Lonely Planet

With my school giving me both Monday and Tuesday as days off, I decided to take advantage and take the train down to Busan.

The KTX high-speed train is extremely comfortable and quick, and thus the ride itself is not all that interesting. Trains depart every 15 minutes on a Sunday afternoon, I noticed - and my train was full, more full than I expected.

Feeling tired after disembarking from the train with my backpack and bag, I intelligently checked in to the first hotel I saw off the plaza in front of the station, and thus ended up paying about twice as much for a room as I could have if I'd gone to a seedier place. Smart. My hotel is in Lonely Planet, of course - and it says it's "popular with female travelers." For some reason.

I immediately began exploring the hotel's immediate area on foot, growing ever colder and hungrier. For some reason, I'd figured that Busan, being south of Seoul, would consequently be warmer than Seoul. I was wrong. Maybe it's the sea climate? I finally sat down to eat in an ordinary looking restaurant, where I got what I honestly believe to be the BEST value for my money I have ever gotten in a Korean restaurant - for 4,000 won, I got a large bowl of dwaenjang jigae with six or seven LARGE dishes of various banchan. And the jigae had some serious punch to it.

Not far from the train station is Busan's odd little combination Chinatown-Russiatown. Mostly Chinese restaurants and Russian bars, coffee shops and knockoff goods stores, I also saw a Vietnamese store and some kind of African store (precise nationality not clear).

Tomorrow: Walk around downtown. Fish market. We'll see what else looks interesting.

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