One of South Korea's three horse-racing tracks is found just outside Busan, and we decided to check it out on a sunny Sunday afternoon. We knew that we'd have fun, since we have fun anywhere that gambling is involved, but the Busan Gyeongnam Racecourse Park exceeded our expectations.
With a prime location where the Nakdong River empties into the East Sea, the small, sandy island of Eulsukdo has long been a paradise for migratory birds. However, our trip there couldn't have been more poorly timed, since the birds only visit in the fall and spring. But we'll be gone by August, and didn't want to pass up a visit to this interesting bit of nature.
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.
I've had terrible vision since I can remember. Glasses, contacts, waking up every morning blind... severe myopia has played a major role in my life and always been a part of who I am. When I first heard of LASIK technology, probably twenty years ago, it sounded like a dream from some futuristic fantasy world, too good to be true. "But one day", I thought. "I am totally doing that."
A collection of sculptures found near BEXCO and the Museum of Art, Busan's Olympic Sculpture Park pays homage to the city's involvement in the 1988 Summer Olympics and provides a place to check out some bizarre modern artwork. We paid a short visit to the park after a day of shopping at Shinsegae.
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?
At the far northeastern end of Busan, Songjeong Beach is a more beautiful and far less popular stretch of sand than the city beaches of Haeundae or Gwangalli. Although you can get there with bus or taxi, the best way to arrive is over a gorgeous three-kilometer hike through the woods.