Saturday, May 2, 2015

2 May 15 – Day 2 (Haeundae Loop Tour, Haedong Yonggung Temple)

Got up, washed up and packed before eating half of the onion cheese bread bought yesterday as breakfast. SWT and I agreed to queue for the bus tour at 9am so after eating, we lazed around before heading out at 8:45am. When we got to the bus stop, there were already two long queues, one for the Haeundae Loop Tour and the other for the Taejongdae Loop Tour. The tour buses with open top were already there, just waiting for boarding. The weather was really sunny and hot. The queue started to move but unfortunately, we didn’t get to board the first bus which moved off at 9:45am. The second bus was a single deck and moved off after 10am. The bus crossed the Busan Harbour Bridge before reaching the first stop, UN Memorial Park. We didn’t alight and was aiming for the next stop, Busan Museum. After the first stop, the bus did a turn and stop at another bus stop which reflected as UN Memorial Park.

Continued the ride and then the bus system announced that the stop was Gwangalli Beach. SWT and I were shocked that we had missed the Busan Museum stop. Oh well… too late to cry over spilled milk so we made sure that we alight at the correct stop for the Nurimaru APEC House. Fortunately for us, there were a number of people alighting at that stop and heading to the same place. So we alighted and followed the group of people. Along the way to the Nurimaru APEC House, we saw some pretty flowers and stopped to take photos. Finally we got to the Nurimaru APEC House and walked around to see the exhibits. Recalled reading an article talking about this place recently and the author talked about looking for the seat that our PM Lee sat back during the meeting in 2005. So I also went to look for that seat and somehow felt very proud when I found it. Explore the area outside the Nurimaru APEC House and took a selfie with SWT using the mono-stick that she brought along.

Went up to a pavilion to rest and eat the balance of our bread from breakfast as lunch. I finished my food and went back down to look at the other areas while waiting for SWT to join me. Saw a signboard indicating the different places that one can see from the viewpoint and I saw Haeundae Beach towards the left. The beach seemed to be accessible via a boardwalk from the Nurimaru APEC House area. When SWT joined me later, told her about it and we decided to walk towards the beach instead taking the city bus which would only arrive about an hour later around 1+pm. The walk along the coastal boardwalk was enjoyable because of the nice view. And somewhere between the boardwalk, we passed by a statue of a mermaid so we stopped briefly to take photos. Finally we reached the beach and we took off our shoes to walk on the fine sand. We even went further down to the shoreline to wet our feet. The water was cold but it was fun. I haven’t been to a beach for a very, very long time and it was great! We walked half the length of the beach and then went off to find the bus stop to take the city bus to the defunct Haeundae (Train) Station.

Again we had problem locating the bus stop and had to go around asking people. After hitting a few walls, finally an uncle gave us some directions in Korean and we tried to follow. Turned out that the bus stop was actually towards the other end of the beach, had we continued the whole length of the beach, we would have been able to find it. Anyway, got to the bus stop and there were already many people waiting. So joined the queue and waited for close to an hour before finally boarded the bus. By the time we got to the defunct Haeundae (Train) Station, it was already 2:35pm. We took snapshots of the station and realized that there was a subway station of the same name there. Proceeded to wait for public bus 181 at the bus stop in front of the station to go to the famous Haedong Yonggung Temple as per what we read from one of the TA posts. When the bus came, SWT checked with the bus driver and was told that we should be taking the bus from the opposite direction instead. Quickly crossed the road and there was a bus arriving. By the time, we ran towards the bus, it was already fully packed and some people were not able to get in. So we all waited at the bus stop for the next bus.

Soon another bus came along, we quickly boarded the bus and it was fully packed very quickly. We had no seats and the bus was stuffy. The bus journey took about 45 minutes, longer than the stated 30 minutes, due to slightly heavy traffic. Many people alighted with us at the same stop and we followed the crowd towards the temple. There were stalls selling food and stuff in the area before the temple. By the time we reached the temple, it was already 3:40pm. Walked around to take photos and saw some steps leading to an underground opening and there were people queuing to go down, so we joined the queue and found out that it was a place where water from a natural spring flows through. Plastic ladles were provided for people to scoop the water to drink. Took a few quick snaps of the interior before drinking some water myself, doing what the locals do.

Emerged from the ground, round the corner, there was another place where people queued up to pour water over a small Buddha statue. Continued our walk around the temple and then we got to the area near the sea where we took another selfie. Walked back out and got back to the area where the food and stuff were and we approached a stall that sells hotteok and gukhwappang (chrysanthemum-shaped mini red bean cake). I told SWT to choose one snack to share but she wanted to try both. So we bought one hotteok and a bag of 10 gukhwappang to share. While waiting for the food, took photos of other food at the stall, there were the local specialty of boiled silkworm larvae and boiled water snails.

We ate while browsing the other stalls and I had the hotteok first while SWT ate her five gukhwappang. After that, we swapped to eat the balance. Then I saw a food stall selling hotteok on one side and odeng on the other. I wanted to try the odeng so asked the aunty the price and was told W2,000 per stick. There were two types of fishcakes in the cart, the flat-folded one and the round-long one. I took the former and SWT took the latter where we ate half each and then swapped. Sauces with cut chilies were provided and there were small brushes provided in the containers for patrons to brush the sauce over their odeng before eating. The odeng gungmul (the fishcakes broth) was free flow and it was really tasty with all the flavours from the odeng and the generous amount of leek used. After we were done, it was close to 6pm, SWT made payment and we went off to take bus 181 back to the defunct Haeundae (Train) Station.

Again, there was already a very long queue for the one and only bus service at the bus stop. We waited for a very long time before the bus came along but it did not stop because it was fully packed. A female passenger popped her head out of a window and shouted something in Korean to the people at the bus stop. We asked the Korean guy queuing in front of us what was said and was told that the lady said many people were waiting for the bus at the bus stop before this. So SWT and I walked to the said bus stop. As we were reaching that bus stop, we saw another one further up. SWT suggested that we go to the one further up. Turned out the bus stop further up was also for bus service 181 so we waited there with the two Korean guys that were in front of us previously. The bus came around 7pm and we were able to board before it became fully packed. Because we were packed like sardines, plus we were both short, we had to constantly peep through whatever gaps there were to see if we can spot the defunct Haeundae (Train) Station. Then SWT took an opportunity to ask the driver when to alight for the defunct Haeundae (Train) Station but the driver did not answer her. Two Korean teenagers boarded the bus and SWT asked them instead. Fortunately, one of them could speak simple English and told us that our stop was about two stops away.

Alighted at the correct bus stop and hurried to the subway station to take the subway back to Busan station. While we were waiting on the platform, we saw an uncle pushed a bicycle with a little dog inside the bike basket onto the platform. It was then we saw a small sign depicting a picture of a bicycle on the wall. I was so impressed that I took a photo of the uncle with his bicycle. Back home, we can only bring folded foldable bikes confine to a certain measurements onto the train at stipulated time on weekdays. It was close to 9pm when we finally got back to Busan station and still there was a very, very long queue outside that fishcake shop. We went to the café next to Paris Baguette to get food as breakfast for the next day. Could not resist the rice cakes available and bought one, on top of the sweet potato steam cake that I had already taken. Got back to the motel, showered before settling down to eat my rice cake while recording the amount spent during the day, as well as firmed up the plan for the next day. According to the weather forecast, it would rain the next day. Oh dear…

Thoughts: Did not think that the queue for the Haeundae Loop Tour would be that long and most of the people were actually local tourists. The Haeundae Loop Tour has quite a few sights worth seeing and had we not gone to the Haedong Yonggung Temple, we would probably be quite comfortable covering the whole loop for the entire day. Now that we know the travelling time to get to the Haedong Yonggung Temple, I think it would have been best if it was done as either half-day or full-day trip. Perhaps it was due to the long weekend, there seemed to be a lot of local tourists than foreigners in Busan. The temple was super crowded. I would have enjoyed even more if it was not so crowded and if I had more time there to explore at my own pace. One thing turned out well today, I got to eat street food! And the best thing was that I finally got the chance to eat odeng beside a food stall like the locals!


Ryan Hwang said...


Thjs is HiKorea Hostel from Haeundae Busan. I really had a good time reading your post. Your article answered most the questions that we got from our hostel guests everyday. I am wondering if we can share your article on our facebook page?

In return, we will send you a 50% discount coupon as an appreciation to your approval. :)

Lolandra.S said...

Hi, thank you for reading and you are welcome to share the article on your Facebook page.