We recently got a GPS for Korea which translates into English – thank goodness because driving here is a crazy experience! I’ll let Ryan write a post about that later because he graciously does most of the driving. We wanted to test it out so we went to Busan for a day trip last Sunday.Luckily for us, they built a bridge within the last couple of years between Busan and Geoje Island, so it takes about an hour to get to Busan rather than the 4 hour drive around. The drive on the bridge is really beautiful – there are islands along the coast which make it a very scenic drive.Several friends gave us some Korea travel guides and so we took it with us to Busan and planned to hit a few of the hot spots. The first stop was the Jagalchi Fish Market which is the largest fish market in Korea. We walked around the area and saw a lot of dried fishes hanging out to be sold, along with several of the little guppies that we saw the woman drying a couple of weeks ago when we were exploring the island!
We continued walking and found the main fish market which is a multi-story building and is full of stalls with fish tanks/open baskets full of plenty of live fish! It is a unique cultural experience to walk around and see the tanks of fish jumping around, eels slithering on top of each other, and even some octopuses stuck to the sides.
We wanted to continue our cultural experience, so we walked upstairs which is where the “restaurants” are. There were many “restaurants” serving seafood, primarily sashimi. I call them “restaurants” because it was a raised platform with tables and then small open kitchens nearby where they were funneling the food from. It was certainly unlike any food court or restaurant that I had ever been to before and we were the only non-Korean people there. We got the sashimi plate and we tried the first fish – It was not what I was expecting…I can only describe the texture as gooey and I did like it very much. The second fish on the platter was okay…not as good as I was expecting, but we munched on that. The waitress kept telling us that soup came with the sashimi so a few moments later, a burner showed up on our table and then they brought out a big pan full of soup. We looked a bit closer and saw a fish head…yup, they had brought us fish head soup. It wasn’t strictly fish heads – they had basically chopped up an entire fish and put it in the soup. Being the open minded type, we gave it a try. The fish had a lot of bones, making it super hard to eat, and the broth was very spicy. It was certainly an interesting experience, but it was not our favorite meal here yet.
There were also some more fish markets outside of the main fish market building. These were a little more aligned with what we would expect for a fish market because the fish were cut up and on ice rather than swimming around still in tanks.
After that, we walked around some of the other markets and grabbed a smoothie. The main observation we had while walking around was just how many people there were! Every where we went, there were seas of people! We continued our walk through Yongdusan Park. We went to the top of Busan Tower and scoped out the view.
The last place on our list for our trip was to go to a temple outside of the city. It is called Yonggungsa Temple and it is nicknamed the “Temple on the Sea.” We drove out there and it was extremely crowded – it took us some time to find parking and then there was a 2 hour line to get into the temple. I should have guessed that I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see this beautiful temple with all of the lanterns for Buddha’s birthday! We didn’t really have time to wait in such a long line because we had to head back home, but we couldn’t see the temple from the outside. So…being the adventurous and determined couple that we are, we started hiking around to find another way to see the temple. We noticed that some Koreans jumped over a fence and were walking along a ledge. We followed suit and walked out along some of the rocks and there was the view that we were looking for!! The temple was filled with colorful lanterns and it looked incredible!
On the way out, there are several food and souvenir stalls – we saw some fresh dough cakes being made and they smelled awesome! A bag of 10 of them was only 2,000 Won (almost $2), so we grabbed a bag. They were awesome! They were cakey donut type of treats that had red bean paste in the middle. I’m not sure what they are called, but we will certainly be getting them again if we see them somewhere else.
All in all, we had a great day trip to Busan!