7:30! I slept in. I mean, I woke up at 4:45 first, but then I forced myself back to sleep – so it counts.
The only plan we had for the day was to get to Busan. Our train didn’t leave until noon so we had some time to kill. I avoided another incident by not helping Andrew pack his clothes, and even got to tell him, “I told you so!” later when he got a text from the AirBnB host about the single sock he left behind.
Seoul is about 200 miles away from Busan and with five stops it was only going to take two hours on the KTX. Andrew was jazzed about riding the high speed rail to Busan. Because, boy. I had never been on a high speed train and wasn’t really sure what to expect. After the trip, I felt a little let down by all the hype. Because, girl.
I don’t know what I was really expecting, maybe some g-force or the scenery to feel like it was whipping by so fast the window was a Gerhard Richter. But, no, it was just a train ride. Though it is amazing it only took two hours. It would be neat if the west coast had this. Then I could be in Seattle in an hour and LA in 6. Putting it in that context, I see why it’s exciting.
We got to Busan and both of us felt pretty run down. The directions to our AirBnB were vague and felt more like a scavenger hunt than directions. Walk towards the ocean, when it’s in view find the restaurant that’s been closed for two years and turn left, go to the area that is known as (but not marked) “playland” make a pentagram with the point facing the mistiest location of the boardwalk…
I eventually put the address in Google Maps and found the place. The reason for all the cloak and dagger is because better directions would have been – follow the grossest fish smell in town and find the blue hostel located in the center of the smell. If you can’t find the smell, listen for a jackhammer in concrete sound (that’ll be right below the room you are in – but don’t worry you won’t see it because your view of the ocean right beyond the jackhammer is completely blocked by an awning.). If the jackhammering has stopped by the time you get here look for the rickety fair rides right next door where there’s a swing boat and intermittent sounds of shrieking that will only get louder as the night gets drunker.
Andrew and I have decided that this trip, although fun, is not really our cup of vacation. We like beach towns and feeling lazy and relaxed. I like big cities for about a day or two for the experience, but then I like remote, outdoorsy, naturey lounginess with intermittent alcoholic beverages that I ply on my tee-totaling boyfriend. This is one of the reasons we decided to go to Busan, to get a relaxed beach experience.
Unfortunately, we should have done more research. Busan is the second most populous city in Korea and there is not a square inch of it that they didn’t find “the perfect spot” to develop with skyscrapers with flashing lights. It felt busy, and crowded, and dirty.
Andrew and I checked into our room. It was dinky. No drawers. The sheets felt like what brillo pads are recycled into. I now understand the homophone of hostel. We looked at each other and sighed, “this blows.” And it really did. We decided food was in order before making any decisions about what to do.
Busan seems to cater a bit more to Americans than Seoul. We found a hamburger and a chicken salad and decided to make the best of it for the rest of our day.
And by making the best of it, I mean going to Karaoke.
We paid 5000₩ for a half an hour that kept having more time added to it for some reason so it ended up being about 45 minutes.
This was super fun, and we will do it again before we leave Korea.
After Karaoke we wandered around a bit and walked along the waterside. Busan is so overbuilt. It’s like Atlantic City, but without the charm.
The entire city is covered in neon.
We got back to the room and Andrew was feeling run down. We did some internet searching and found a lovely AirBnB to change to.
Back in Seoul.
No, Seoul wasn’t going to be our tropical paradise locale either, but we were familiar with it, and it felt cleaner, and quieter than Busan. We would take the KTX back the next day. But first, another buffing for me on the sheets of sandpaper while listening to the lovely white noise of drunk people shrieking on a swing.