Haeundae beach is in Busan, Korea’s second largest city and number one holiday destination. It’s a little French Riviera and lot of Miami all rolled into one, so whether you’re after spectacular scenery, a pristine beach front, or simply a fantastic weekend away, you’ll find yourself in luck.
We arrived on Friday night and went straight out for Korean barbeque in an outside eatery just off of the main strip. Now many of you will be familiar with this I’m sure, but it’s a revolutionary approach to cooking. You get your meat and all side dishes brought to you, and cook it over a delicious hot plate in the middle of the table. Restaurants like this range from the cheapest to the most luxurious, and are always delicious. The food is accompanied by the mandatory bottle(s) of Soju (a distilled drink of rice, wheat and barley) and is more often than not quite reasonable too. Now if you find the place that we did, which looks a little like an open parking lot in the love motel district, I’d recommend going for the marinated beef skirt and samgyeopsal (three strip belly of pork).
So after dinner we head for the beach, but first it was time for another beverage, this time in the form of gin and tonic in a sandwich bag. Now this might seem strange, but I’m sure that the waygooks among us (‘waygook’ is the Korean word for ‘foreigner’ and is heard a LOT) will be all too familiar with this concept. As the above description suggests, there is little more to these concoctions than meets the eye.
Bags in hand we decided to head for an evening stroll on the beach. The waterfront is gorgeous and, as usual in Korea, immaculate. If you head to Haeundae make sure that you do as we did, and spend at least one evening just doing this. It’s so peaceful next to the bustle of Busan’s downtown, and quite unexpected when you bear in mind that you’re in a city of just over three and a half million. You’ll find quite the selection of buskers and live music down there too.
Saturday was spent lounging around on the beach in the morning and going for a swim. It was October, which for Koreans means don’t bother testing the water, it will be freezing and unpleasant, and you certainly won’t enjoy it. But, being a Brit, I found it rather warm, and thus was soon the only person on the beach in swimming trunks (Jade bravely joined me the next day). The hilarious thing was that everybody else was in adventure gear and puffa jackets – you’ve got to laugh at the hilarious side of a groupist mentality.
The afternoon was spent exploring the Jagalchi fish market (which deserves a whole post of it’s own), and the evening was spent wandering through serene Dongbaek park at the Western end of the waterfront, which comes complete with mermaid statues, lighthouses and tremendous views over the city. Just follow the walkway around the coast from the Westin hotel until you get to the lighthouse, and then hook round back on yourselves along the road.
The latter stages of the evening’s events consisted of more drinking out of bags, whilst rambling through the area observing its’ hilarious sites.
Our final morning brought more swimming and some delicious French baked goods, before returning home to garlic town. Korea has an astounding array of French bakeries, and my favourite of all has got to be OPS in Haeundae (and if I’m not wrong there’s one in Seoul too). It was a delicious end to a lovely weekend away and has us longing for more. So much so, in fact, that we already have plans to visit next weekend too.
Make sure all you waygooks get to Busan before the season’s out, and I look forward to getting you all up to date on more of our adventures next week. We’re heading to a mountain in the north of the province tomorrow, so there should be some spectacular autumnal scenery to report on by then.
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