Miserable weather, nice hiking and getting my China visa
Busan Travel Blog› entry 296 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Stuart and Claire (England), Arto (Finland)
I got into Busan just as dusk was setting in and i was glad that the bus dropped me at a metro line, which took me directly to my hostel, all be it the journey took an extra 30 minutes. Once i had located the building and travelled up to the 18th floor, i found that nobody was answering the door and a note suggested i should walk all the way back out and call the owner from a public phone box. I could hear movement in the apartment next door, so decided i'd wait and see if they came into the hallway and ambush them into letting me use their phone!
A few seconds later and the door opened and i put on my best smile and innocent 'im a foreigner, please help me' look.
After an hour or so i was getting pretty hungry and only myself and the Japanese girl hadn't had Dinner, so went out and got some noodles from nearby. I ended up with the cold ice noodles again, which tasted a little different from the first time, i'd say a little better actually, or maybe i was just getting used to the texture! On the way home it was decided to buy some soju, as it was only 1,200won ($1.
The following day i had planned to get my Chinese visa organised, but the night before when i had eventually met the owner, she told me that it was a public holiday and all government offices would be shut. This was a real kick in the teeth to be honest, as i'd rushed down here just so as i could try and get it out of the way. To add to my woes, the weather was thoroughly miserable, it been both gloomy and raining, so i decided that i wasn't going to venture outside until it cleared up a bit. English couple Stuart and Claire had the same plan and we sat in the living room chatting, drinking cups of tea and surfing the net.
In the end, the day never did clear up and the three of us chatted away happily in the warmth of the apartment. Stuart is a golf pro who will be playing in Asia over the next few months, whilst Claire is a teacher and the two of them had been set up in Thailand for the last year or so. Like me they were trying to scrimp and save their money in Korea, as its so much more expensive than South East Asia.
Around 19.00 we eventually decided that we should brave the wind and rain and go and get some food and ended up in a great little restaurant, where 3,300won ($3.30) got me a big pork cutlet with rice, a bit of spaghetti and some salad, which was a real bargain. To treat ourselves afterwards we went for a doughnut and a cream bun, both of which really hit the spot! Back at the hostel we were joined by Finnish guy Arto for a game of cards, which Claire won quite easily.
On Thursday i was up at 07.30, to go to the Chinese embassy, but i couldnt find a map of how to get there and ended up not leaving until around 08.30, when i eventually came across one in the hostel. 3 metro lines and 15 stations later and i arrived at my destination. I was petrified that there would be queues snaking out of the door like at the Chinese embassies in Moscow and Hong Kong, so I was gobsmacked when I walked in, filled out the form, handed it in and got told to come back in 5 hours, all in the space of 10 minutes! Wow, now there was a turn up for the books!
In one respect 5 hours was actually a little too soon, as it didnt leave me with a great deal of time to see the things that i wanted to in Busan.
The walk took around 50 minutes up some steep chiseled steps in the mountain. I'm a reasonably fit bloke, but this really had me puffing and my muscles and joints were aching by the time i reached the top! On the way i passed an interesting little cave monastery, where i stopped to have a look inside. But the real thrill of this climb arrived when i hit a clearing in the trees that offered breathtaking views across the valley that Busan is located within.
I had a rough idea that i was going to try and find a temple up there that the Lonely Planet recommended, but i wasn't too fussed, i was just happy to be wandering around the mountains in near solitude. So when i couldn't find the correct path, i decided instead that i would head towards the Busan Asiad Arena, which i had seen from way up above. The reason? Well, its a football stadium and it hosted World Cup games, so why wouldn't i want to go!
I clambered along mountains and paths that seemed to be getting progressively worse, until i came upon a temple in a clearing.
It took maybe 20 minutes to navigate my way towards the sporting complex within the city and first stop was at the baseball stadium, which even though it wasn't a football stadium, was still of interest to a sports addict like me. After here i moved my way around to the World Cup Stadium, which i was delighted to see was left open, so i had a good nosey around inside and take a few photos.
It was now nearly 14.00, so after a little help from a little old lady who walked me to the nearest metro station, i was back on my way to the Chinese embassy to pick up my visa. Everything went smoothly, so i decided not to raise any questions about when Tibet may be open again to foreigners, as i'm sure this would have resulted in my visa been torn out! Button lipped, my next destination was the port, so i could go and buy my ferry ticket for the Saturday sailing from Busan to Jeju-do. As it happened, they could only reserve me a place on the boat, but not sell an actual ticket. I wasn't too bothered and still aren't sure if i'm going to take this route now, as i was told their budget ticket was a space on the floor of a big room, with 200 other people in it! No mattresses, no sheets, no nothing, just a floor and 200 people.
It was approaching 16.00 and i was really running low on energy, but decided i'd make one last journey into the North of the city, to go and visit Beomeosa Temple. A subway and local bus took me to the doorstep of the 1300 year old creation, which had ornate lanterns leading to the entrance. The Temple was surprisingly subdued, which i rather liked, so i stayed some time just looking into each of the buildings and trying to soak up the atmosphere. Other than the buildings themselves, there were also some impressive turtle steles, plenty of cherry blossom trees and a nice 9 storey pagoda. When i'd had my fill, i decided that i would enjoy the last light of the day by walking the 2.5km's back down the hill to the tube station.
On my way home i stopped off in the centre to eat at the restaurant that Stuart and Claire had taken me to the previous day and enjoyed the pork cutlet once again - i just couldn't resist at the price it was! I hopped back on the metro to complete the journey home, and worked out that i'd travelled a staggering 99 tube stations in just 1 day! Now that has to be some sort of World record doesn't it!? Back at the hostel i just chilled out before tiredness got the better of me and i went to bed.
I first woke up around 6am a little shocked that my room door was stood open, as i had locked it the previous night. I got up and closed it and after that I heard someone walking around in the flat. I wondered if it was the owner having come in early, but why would she open my door and then leave it open? It seemed a bit wierd to me.
In Korea, you often have to leave your shoes at the entrance to the house and here was no different... i started to panic and look around, nothing. I checked every room, every imaginable place, nothing! Some ba***rd had stolen them! I checked my other belongings and at first was positive that some money had gone missing too, but then i couldn't remember exactly how much i'd spent the previous day, with the visa having cost 70,000won ($70).
I caught the metro to the bus station and missed my bus by 30 seconds, thanks to having had to search around all the apartment. Things really weren't going my way. I sat down, did a crossword and tried to take my mind off things. On the bright side, the sun was shining and i wasn't feeling ill, so things could certainly get worse...