Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…
On September 15, 1950, General Douglas MacArthur organized and launched the landing of Incheon (Codename: Operation Chromite), which was a surprise amphibious assault that ended a string of victories by the invading North Korean Army. The Battle of Incheon subsequently ensued for two days resulting in an overwhelmingly decisive victory and strategic reversal in favor of the United Nations. The UN recapture of Seoul quickly followed partially severing North Korea’s supply lines and the tides of war in Korea were forever changed from this moment on. Despite strong objections in response to undertaking a very risky assault on extremely unfavorable terrain with unpredictable weather by other cautions generals, MacArthur climbed onto the saddle of his fleet and buoyantly took the risk that good weather would be on his side; it soon was.
On the morning of my departure, weather reports coming from Busan were abominable as it was consistently advertised that heavy showers and strong winds were on their way. Oh no, I thought. The freezing and rather caliginous weather had just about taken its toll on me as I neared Seoul Station, and it sadly appeared that the brief escape to sunshine was not going to happen. I immediately became melancholic. The thought crossed my mind to merely head to the airport instead and randomly find another destination with guaranteed sunshine, but a “miracle” occurred within a few moments. While sitting in the metro and gazing into the distance as it crossed over the Han River, the sun began to burn through the viscous clouds as light rays shot to the ground like lightning bolts. I practically jumped out of my seat as it was the first time I had seen sunlight in many days. The sun then proceeded to slowly unveil itself from behind the clouds like a phantom, and although I did not actually see the sun by the time I reached the train station, it opened up a well of hope inside me. In spite of unfavorable reports promulgated from various sources, like MacArthur, I decided to follow through with my own landing of Busan and take the risk that good weather would be on my side; it soon was.
While stepping off the train with duffel bag in hand, I quickly realized that there was not a single cloud in sight. I was relieved. Then I was hit with fresh, saliferous scented breezes from the sea and was immediately yearning to walk along the warm, sandy shores under the Busan sun. Not before long I did just that, but first, I headed to drop off my luggage at Chan’s Guesthouse in Haeundae Beach.
Chan’s Guesthouse was the wonderful India-inspired hostel I stayed at during my time in Busan and I dedicated an entire blog article following “Busan Landing” called “Chan’s Guesthouse and Friends” that I hope you can check out. I was given such a fortuitous opportunity to meet and spend time with travelers from Korea and around the world in the friendly, open atmosphere found at Chan’s Guesthouse.
After dropping off my things and taking a stroll along Haeundae Beach, it was getting dark and I was getting hungry. I also felt like a beer, but not just any beer, crafted microbrewed beer. I have my own travel tradition that I follow whenever I visit a big city for the first time, and that is to locate at least one microbrewery and taste a few crafted brews. Busan has about three or four microbreweries that I was able to find through the internet, but all of them appeared quite shady except for a place called Dojima Beer Brewery House (AKA. “Barony Bräuhaus”).
It was a little tough to find at first, but I was able to locate it just a few blocks directly south from the Lotte Hotel at Seomyeon Station and next to the “Heaven Room.”
The first beer I tried was their Kölsch, and all I can say is “WOW!” It had such a great, delicate flavor that lingered and left my mouth feeling refreshed after every drink. When my German sausage & potato meal arrived, the Kölsch paired marvelously and tasted even better than before; I was a happy camper.
The next and only other crafted beer at Dojima Brewery was their Alt. It was kind of like a brown ale and dunkel mixed together that I found to be quite terrible. It tasted like soapy water and I honestly had to give it up after a few grimacing gulps. No worries, I just ordered another great-tasting Kölsch with a another small sausage meal and enjoyed the rest of my evening at Dojima Brewery. I’d definitely return to try their Kölsch again.
The next day I juiced up my legs with a few shots of espresso and began wandering around the city with no exact plan in mind, something I love to do in order to get a good feel of a place. Wandering is freedom. Wandering also allows me to tap into innate instincts that are somewhat dormant in normal daily life. For reasons unknown to me, I’ve always been able locate significant, interesting hubs within cities just by whimsically walking around. I’m sure this is the same for many of you.
After touring Jagalchi Market in downtown Busan, I had a craving for some kind of hotcake or special bakery treat, and so I stopped and then made an innate decision to go north. Within minutes I stumbled across a “bakery district” of some kind that is not on any map or tour guide and got myself a “Busan hotcake.”
After some more wandering, I veered toward Busan Tower when I saw it in the distance. A few clouds had developed, but fortunately all had dissipated within a few hours squashing a slight worry I had about heavy rains.
I then stopped in a super friendly cafe west by northwest from Busan Tower…
…and then went west around the corner and found a secluded, delightful restaurant called “Farmer’s Original Handmade Hamburger.”
Wow! As you can see above, I was immediately attracted to this restaurant as it specialized in making american-style hamburgers from different parts of the USA, in addition to making Cancun, Tokyo, and Farmer’s-style burgers. In all honestly, I visited this establishment twice during my time in Busan. The first time I saw it fit to pay homage to my hometown of Los Angeles and was very pleased with its flavor. The second time I couldn’t negate ordering the Texas burger. The BBQ sauce along with the grilled onions produced a knockout flavor. It was a no contest, Texas beat out Los Angeles by a large flavor margin. To my fellow Texans, be proud!
For my California and Texas friends, the taste of the burgers made here closely resembled that of IN N’ OUT and JAX Hamburgers; it was that good. Next time I will try the Cancun or Tokyo burger, yum! Anyone want to join me?
After my burger fill, I walked by many outside jewelry vendors and stopped at a vendor selling South American jewelry. Once we both discovered that we could speak Spanish fluently, we chatted away in Spanish for over 45 minutes about adventures around the world. His name has slipped my mind, but I found him to be very friendly. In fact, I stopped by the next day to purchase a few more pieces of jewelry and to say hello, and he was very pleased to be able to speak Spanish with me again.
I then took a rather long walk through the city and ended up at Songdo Beach, which is practically on the other side of town. After a cup of coffee and a chance to rest my legs, I took a hike along the seaside cliffs and then very carefully climbed up a cliff to get this shot below.
When I returned to Chan’s Guesthouse later in the evening, a group of us went out to view Haeundae Beach & Gwangan Bridge at night. It was spectacular!
The following day I visited three Buddhist temples: Beomeosa, Samgwangsa, and Haedong Yonggungsa. They are located in completely different areas of Busan and all are quite distinct in nature.
I’ve dedicated another blog solely to these three temples called “Temple Ventures” following “Busan Landing” and “Chan’s Guesthouse and Friends” as the final installment of my trip to Busan. “Temple Ventures” contains many more photos and information pertaining to these particular temples and I hope you all can check it out. Very interesting stuff!
After breaking the law in Busan…
…I headed to popular hangout among westerners called “Fuzzy Navel” in Haeundae Beach.
I love chess and have been wanting to play for quite sometime, but couldn’t find a suitable board. It so happens that I found one on my way to Fuzzy Navel. After I ordered some Mexican tacos and a beer, David, the Bartender, asked if I wanted to play chess after he saw it sitting in the bag next to me. “Sure,” I said.
Who knew that beating a bartender in chess would land me a free pint of beer?!? It was surely great fun and the first time I ever played chess inside a bar. I also promised to allow him a chance for retribution next time I visit Busan.
On the train ride home, I happened to be sitting next to one of Korea’s Top 5 TV comedians (verified by April) and it was a blast sharing stories with him. Tickets to his show are on their way.
Pondering the entire trip to Busan, it was definitely one of the funnest trips I’ve ever taken, mostly in part to all the friendly people I met, wonderful sunny weather, comfortable hostel, beautiful temples, and the very tasty food I ate while freely wandering throughout the city. I hope you all can check out “Chan’s Guesthouse and Friends” and “Temple Ventures” for more about my experiences in Busan.
One of the fondest moments I had was when I sat and enjoyed the sunset at Haeundae Beach… I truly felt at peace here.