My Ninth Trip to BusanBy Charles Wetzel
Scroll down for the short essay.
I have been to Busan 10 times at the time of this writing. No, I'm not kidding, 10 times. Almost every time I make a visa run to Japan, I go to Busan and board a boat and go to Japan. Then when I come back, I return to Busan. So that's 10 visits.
The thing is, until the ninth visit, I had never done any real sightseeing in Busan. I had usually just found the nearest cheap Kimbap Cheonguk restaurant, found a jjimjilbang or empty public restroom to sleep in, gotten some shut-eye, and been off on the earliest boat the next day (sometimes the same day). However, this time, it was different -- the best choice for a ferry left in the evening, so I had the whole day to kill, and I figured "I might as well see Busan since I have nothing else to do."
So I went to the tourism counter at the ferry terminal and asked for some recommendations. The friendly woman there gave me a guidebook, a map, etc. and explained that Taejongdae (part of Yeongdo [an island]) and Haeundae were good places to go. She also said that I could see one of the largest bridges in Asia in Busan (though I declined on that, since I've already seen Japan's Akashi Kaikyo which is the longest bridge IN THE WORLD).
I took a bus to Yeongdo (an island) and walked from the bus stop to the supermarket and got the camera I took these pictures on. Then I started to ascend Taejongdae's mountain. Taejongdae is a natural park on Yeongdo, and Taejongdae is named for a Shilla era king who liked to practice his archery there.
At the base of the mountain, there was one of those fake trains made of a vehicle and some trailers for taking school kids around the area on field trips. That was about it. However, as I ascended, I saw plenty of nice scenery and photographed quite a bit of it.
As I climbed the mountain, I saw Taejongsa, a temple, complete with a saritap ("tower of undying remains," "undying remains" being a Buddhist concept of a small, hard object that appears when the body of a devout Buddhist is cremated). The sign said the undying remains were from Sri Lanka! How about that!
I continued to walk and saw Taejongdae's Lighthouse, and then Taejongdae's pebble beach. I tried to sneak stealthily around a group of school kids, but of course, they all noticed me and there was a chorus of "hello" over and over again. It's funny when you first live in Korea, but trust me, after several years, it gets annoying.
After that, I got back on the bus and then transferred to the subway and went to Haeundae (one of the most famous beaches in Korea). However, in late November it was not crowded at all. There was almost no one there. It's kind of strange that the water seemed borderline swimmable, and yet, no one was swimming and almost no one was there. I chased around a bunch of seagulls to try to get a good picture of them flying as a flock, and looked for some good stuff washed up on the beach, but didn't find anything. After that, I packed up my stuff and went to Jungang-dong where the ferry terminal is, got on that ferry, and started towards Fukuoka on what was a RADICAL cruise.
This essay sucked, to be sure. At least the pictures were good, right?