Our 91 days in Busan flew by, but we managed to see almost everything this incredible city has to offer — the museums, the people, cafés, hiking, beaches, and of course the food! All of our experiences and observations are now collected in a portable e-book, perfect for Kindle, Nook or any other eReader. The book contains over 200 full-color images and nearly 100 articles about South Korea’s second city, along with a useful index organized by both date and category. For just $7.99, this makes a great companion for your trip to Busan, whether you’re a teacher or a tourist.
Gyeongju is a small city 50 miles north of Busan, known as the “Museum Without Walls” due to its incredible wealth of historic treasures. This was the capital of the powerful Silla Kingdom which ruled most of the Korean peninsula for nearly 1000 years (57 BC – 935 AD) and is without a doubt the most rewarding excursion you can make from Busan.
The $150 million dollar Busan Cinema Center is an architectural oddity which opened to the public during the Busan Film Festival in October, 2011. Its cantilever roof is the world’s largest and seems to break the laws of gravity. And at night, it lights up in spectacular color, adding a splash of beauty to Busan’s most modern neighborhood.
Straight across from Busan Station, a traditional Chinese-style gate welcomes you into Shanghai Street — the nexus of the city’s Chinatown. We visited this hectic and very un-Korean neighborhood during its annual celebration.
The largest market in Busan, and almost definitely the biggest I’ve ever visited anywhere, is in the central neighborhood of Bujeon. Calling it a market town is no mere hyperbole — just the covered portion comprises a full grid of streets and alleys, and you can easily get lost in its chaotic, densely crowded streets.
The only thing which Koreans love more than taking pictures is having their picture taken. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to find in Busan an entire museum dedicated to the art of posing for funny photos. But still… I was surprised. The Trick Eye Museum, underneath the Heosimcheong Spa, is one of the most bizarre places we’ve been in a long time.
If you’re not in one of the city’s numerous spas, the preferred method of relaxation seems to be playing on your smart phone. On the subway, in the park, at dinner, walking down the street, while driving, while talking to your friends. At the beach. Busanites are plugged into their phones in a way that seems obsessive. But they always look like they’re having fun, so who are we to judge?
The largest fish market in South Korea is found in downtown Busan, next to the busy shopping area of Nampo-dong and adjacent to the Lotte Aqua Mall. That it occupies such a valuable, central location speaks to how important the fish trade has always been to the city.
It’s been five months since Jürgen and I lost our French Bulldog to cancer. We’ve been able to distract ourselves with travel, but every once in awhile (and especially after seeing a French Bulldog on the streets), I’ll feel that empty pang of sadness, and start wishing I had a dog again. Luckily, there’s a place in Busan where I can go to purge myself of such silly whims.