Friday, October 23, 2009

South Korea - Day 8

Saturday was our first day in Busan - we'd arrived fairly late the night before and didn't get a chance to do much but check in to our hotel. We were staying on Haeundae beach (per Susie's recommendation), and the view from the hotel was beautiful.
We started the day by grabbing coffee from Dunkin Donuts - they're really common in South Korea, and then going for a stroll on Haeundae beach. It was a beautiful morning and a beautiful walk.
Unfortunately, our hotel was full for Saturday night, so we moved to a hostel in Seomyeon - a busy shopping and food center in downtown Busan. We grabbed a quick cold, spice noodle soup for lunch. I wasn't sure if I'd be a fan of cold soup, but I actually really enjoyed it.
From there, we went to visit Beomosa temple. It's accessible by public transportation, even though it's way up in the mountains. The leaves are starting to change colors, so the view from the mountains was beautiful.

After visiting the temple, we headed to Gwangali beach. By chance, we happened to visit Busan during their 5th Annual Fireworks Festival. We arrived at the beach around 5pm, thinking we'd wander around before the 8pm show, but there were already people out on the beach. We decided to stake out a spot, so we were right in front. As time went on, it got more and more crowded.

Around 6:30pm, I decided I wanted to find a restroom, not knowing how impossible this would be. The public restroom had a line down the street and around the corner. I decided to try Starbucks, which was better, but it still took me almost an hour to get through the line. By the time I went back to meet Jeff (a few snacks in hand), it was dark, and the beach was so crowded that I was worried I wouldn't be able to get back to him - the pathways to get from the street to the beach were all blocked off now. And people were standing about four deep lining the edge of the beach. Luckily, I was able to push through (as politely as possible), and Jeff saw me and waved to me... definitely a brief moment of panic, though.

The fireworks show was the coolest I've ever seen - it was all accompanied by music, was was really long. Fireworks usually were shot from the three main barges, but sometimes came from the two closer barges that were playing giant video screens, and occasionally were shot off the bridge.
There were a million people headed for the metro after the fireworks were over, so Jeff and I hung out and grabbed a coffee before going back. Near our hotel we tried a South Korean beer before turning in for the night.

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