Our first month in Busan has flown by, and we’re a little upset that one-third of our time here is over! We’ve seen and done a lot, eaten strange and wonderful things, gone on a bunch of beautiful hikes, and met some great people, but I have the feeling we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. Here are our impressions, after one month in Busan.
Mike: Our first hike at Geumjeongsanseong mountain was amazing. The cable car up the hill, the ancient history, the views over the city, and the huge expanses of wilderness. We were seriously lost in the woods, in the middle of a big city! That’s crazy.
Jürgen: The image of thousands of lanterns lit up at the Samgwangsa Temple I will never forget. We timed our visit to Busan perfectly; it would have been a real shame to miss the celebration of Buddha’s Birthday.
Mike: I love Korean BBQ. The whole experience of cooking your own meat on a grill built right into the table is fun, though it requires a lot of paying attention. Not easy when you’re talking with friends and there’s soju on the table! The best we’ve had so far was the galbi (short ribs).
Jürgen: It must be bibimbap. I don’t know what makes me love that dish so much. It could be because I have to get active and stir the dish, served in a sizzling hot stone bowl, before it burns onto the edge.
Mike: How delicious a meal of raw fish and still-wriggling octopus can be! And I never expected to have so much fun at a traditional drumming concert.
Jürgen: How skinny people are here. They’re constantly eating and drinking and they’re all in great shape. I could use whatever Korean gene that is.
Mike: This is hard, because we’ve been having such a great time in Busan. I guess the weather hasn’t been playing along very well — it’s been strangely cold and rainy throughout May.
Jürgen: Not really disappointing, but the most annoying thing is that when Koreans get flustered, nervous or embarrassed, they start giggling in your face. I just don’t know how to react to that.
Funniest / Weirdest
Mike: What’s up with the dogs with multi-colored dyed ears and tails? Does this mark them as “do not eat”?
Jürgen: We went out for Korean BBQ and started talking to the family at the table next to us. The mom wanted to take pictures with us, which is fine. Then the dad started pouring soju for us, which we loved. But then, he came over to me with chopsticks, trying to feed me some of his pork. Maybe it was an honor, but getting force-fed by drunk Korean daddy was a little too much for me.
How Expensive? From 1 (cheap) to 10 (expensive)
Mike: 4 – Supermarkets are surprisingly expensive — a single stem of broccoli for $4?! But most restaurants are more than reasonable, and cultural activities like museums and sports events are super-cheap. We’re spending a lot less than we expected to.
Jürgen: Transportation, including taking taxis, is cheap. Eating out is very affordable as well. The moment you go for western food it’s rather pricey. We found a cheap apartment for our three months there. I would say 4.
People from Busan are…
Mike: Laid-back, helpful and extremely attentive. At least, as long as they’re not driving, or rushing for a seat on the subway. Then, it’s best to stay out of their way!
Jürgen: Shy, but when approached very friendly and helpful.
Busan in Three Words
Mike: Modern, Mountainous, Easy
Jürgen: Huge, Comfortable, Hilly
Our opinions of Busan are sure to mature over the next couple months. June and July are still to come, and it will be great to see how the city changes once summer sets in.