Dynamic Busan, or so the tourist board named it, is Korea’s 3rd city after Seoul and Incheon, and is a favorite hangout for Koreans and expats alike. With miles of beautiful coastline and golden sandy beaches, and dozens of bars and clubs, it’s a partygoers dream, especially in summer, when thousands of weekend tourists descend upon Haeundae Beach in what can only be described as a swarming mass of undignified humanity. It’s always amazing to see Haeundae in the summer season. The beach disappears beneath an estimated 1,000,000 people on peak days, but such is the desire of Koreans to remain white skinned, tans being disnmissed as the mark of the lowly laborer, they will rarely venture out from beneath the almost 8,000 beach umbrellas. It’s a contradiction of the highest order. Just stay home already, and leave the beach for beach lovers. Like me.
But during off season, when the beaches are deserted and clean, and the ocean air isn’t suffocating you with 100% humidity, Busan is a lovely place to visit. With a nice 5 day break from school, Leslie and I rode the KTX bullet train the easy 50 minutes south from our new home in Daegu.
It has snowed a couple of times in the last week, and it has been really cold. But in Busan we were greeted with clear, cerulean skies, and though it was chilly the sun felt warm on our backs as we walked along the picturesque promenade.
Nearby Haeundae Beach 해운대 해변 is Haedong Yong Gung Temple, or 해동 용궁사. Haedong Temple sits proudly on its cliff top location, and has a nice story to go with it. 1200 years ago, a fierce dragon lived in the sea and, always angry, caused storms to rage for months, effecting the livelihoods of the fishing community. In an attempt to appease the dragon, the Buddhist monks sacrificed a young girl by casting her into the sea. Satisfied, the dragon relented, and the seas have been calm ever since, and that’s how we found them on our visit; placid and peaceful.
Korea is starting to evolve architecturally, and space age buildings sit quite comfortably alongside traditional pagodas. The famous Diamond Bridge at Gwangalli Beach (광안리 해수욕장) is in the background. This is The Apex Convention Center.