Busan is one of the few Korean cities that had been on my ‘must-visit’ list for some time.
Actually, it was the only one.
Despite the many attractions in Korea (LotteWorld, Jeju Island, Dokdo), the only one that tempted me was Busan. This is in part because I lived in Gangwon-do, where the scenery is pretty hard to top.
Busan is a port city in the southeast corner of the country, and second only to Seoul in size. There are a handful of things that most travelers do when they visit Busan, and, well, we did them too. After a week in Japan, I didn’t have the energy to do any more travel research, so we sort of drifted around with vague notions of what we wanted to do.
Chagalchi Fish Market
This falls squarely in the category of “everyone else did it, so I did, too.” Fish aren’t my thing, and they really don’t do anything for Jared, who opted to wait outside by the water while I took some pictures.
Three pictures, to be precise.
After frequenting the 5-day market in Yeongwol, I was used to seeing weird fish on display. Plus, the floor was all wet and slippery and I didn’t fancy falling into a bucket of spiky seashells.
The highlight of the fish market was the dock behind it, with nice ocean views and only a very faint hint of fish smell. Some sort of fish-themed cluster of a sculpture was displayed there, too.
“Quick,” I said to Jared. “Get a picture of me hiding behind the sculpture. It’ll be cool.”
Easily Korea’s most famous beach, Haeundae provides overwhelming evidence that the label of ‘famous’ does not translate into ‘good.’ It just means that there are way too many people there, so you have to sit uncomfortably close to other people in bathing suits.
For the ten minutes that we were there, the ocean was off-limits due to rough waters, so we didn’t get to enjoy the spectacle of swimmers crammed against each other, pretending to be enjoying themselves.
My idea of a good beach doesn’t include hundreds of umbrellas and yellow inner tubes; safe to say, this beach wasn’t for me.
Trick Eye Museum
I first saw evidence of the Trick Eye Museum on the blog For 91 Days, and knew that I had to visit if I ever made it to Busan. This was definitely a winner, and probably the most entertaining museum I’ve ever visited. It took a little while to warm up to the camera, but eventually we got the hang of things.
I was worried that the museum would be kind of small, but my fears were unfounded. There was room after room of photo opportunity, including a section where you can dress up in Roman robes. For more pictures from the museum, visit the Lateral Movements facebook page.
Tip: Go on a weekday, when the 8,000 won entry fee is substantially cheaper. I can’t remember, but weekend rates are somewhere between 12,000 – 16,000 won.
That was it. There were only three things I wanted to see in Busan, so it was a pleasant surprise when we stumbled across additional unexpected treasures.
If you knew me when I was younger, you know that I was sort of obsessed with cats. Old habits die hard, so I still have a habit of shouting, “Kitty!” whenever I see a cat. Or even sanctioned cat wall graffiti, which is what happened here.
A few meters along on the same wall, I found this, which was a lot less impressive once we visited the Trick Eye Museum.
If you go to the Lotte Department Store in Nampo-dong, you can take the elevator to the roof for free panoramic views of Busan. Those were nice, but I was distracted by these love locks, tethered to the fence by couples to show their love for each other.
And this peeing dog, which I made Jared stand next to.
“You should touch the pee,” I said. “It’ll be funny.”
Unfortunately, the pee stream was unexpectedly sticky, which is why Jared is pictured here looking uncomfortable and holding his tainted hand in an awkward position.
And then there’s this unsolved mystery.
Busan has funny, off-the-wall sculptures dotted around town, and I was compelled to photograph this one, in front of the shops in Nampo-dong. The next day we happened to be walking past again, and I noticed immediately that something wasn’t right.
The falling boy had vanished.
I can only hope that they took him away to put some pants on him, but I guess I’ll never know.