Jan 082012
 

UN Cemetery and Peace Park, Busan, Korea
Located in Nam-gu just south of Daeyeon and Kyungsung metro stations, the UN Cemetery, Busan Museum and Peace Park are all worth a visit. The entire complex is nicely landscaped, and happens to be great for jogging as well (about 1.3 mi/2.1 k once around the park). Have a wine-infused picnic at Peace Park, walk through the cemetery, and wrap up your day at the Busan Museum. Boom. Busan culture-ified.

UN CEMETARYSculptures in front of UN Cemetery and Peace Park, Busan, Korea

The UN Cemetery is a great tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives during the Korean war. You can find soldiers from Canada, France, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, South Africa, Turkey, the US and the UK in this somewhat harrowing, but beautiful ground.

There are also statues and sculptures all around outside of the cemetery itself by international artists. Pretty cool.

Just one warning – you’ll  have to wear closed-toed shoes (no sandals) to get in through the gate.

Free admission. 9am-6pm.

Front gate of UN Cemetery and Peace Park, Busan, Korea   Inside the UN Cemetery and Peace Park, Busan, Korea

BUSAN MUSEUM

At the Busan Museum, located on the western end of the park complex, you can see the history of Busan, with exhibitions of the prehistoric period, Silla dynasty, 3 kingdoms and through to the Joseon dynasty. It’s pretty cool, and free admission.

Free admission. 9am-8pm. Ticket office closes at 7. Closed Mondays. If Monday is a public holiday, it will be closed the following day.

PEACE PARK

It’s a public park: Walking/running track! Fountain! Picnic areas! Public restrooms! Badminton courts! Cool. Open all the time.

Directions:
FROM DAEYEON STATION (much closer): Exit 3, turn around and go around the corner from the Busan Bank. Walk straight. The park complex will be to the left of the big statue/sculpture/flag thing in the middle of the intersection.

FROM KYUNGSUNG STATION (about a 15-20 min walk): Take exit 5, about-face, and turn right around the corner. Go straight for a long time, (past the elementary school) till you see the park.


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Oct 182011
 

BY MICHAEL FRAIMANIgidae, Nam-Gu, Busan, Korea

To Westerners, Yongho-Dong’s Igidae Park is one of Busan’s lesser-known scenic trails. It’s basically the city’s “other coastline”—look straight and you can see Haeundae beach; look left and you face the Gwangali bridge. It’s also teeming with native Koreans out for a two-and-a-half-hour afternoon stroll, or setting up fishing posts along the rocks by the water, so don’t expect a solitary jaunt.

Its lack of popularity among non-native citizens might be owed to the fact that it’s a little tricky to find (we took a taxi), or that the hike itself is really more of a rugged walk. Igidae is a testament to the amount of money and effort Korean governments will pour into natural infrastructure: there are loads of clean stairs (they look freshly painted, even if they actually aren’t), naturally-integrated benches and frightening-to-some suspension bridges overhanging small cliffs. Basically, you’re surrounded by greenery the whole time, but you never feel like you’ve left the city. Igidae’s vibe becomes a lot more casual than walking around any mountain.

The whole trek is essentially a line, and you can approach it from either end. You can trek inland or around the coast, the latter of which gives you plenty of chances to walk right down to the water and bound across giant and precariously balanced boulders, which, as I mentioned to my company at the time, truly made me feel like a kid again. (Partly because it’s fun, and partly because I became a terrified child when looking down at the jagged rocks and rushing water only a few feet below.) If you hop far enough along the rocks, you’ll inevitably disrupt some peaceful solo Korean’s lunch, which also brings up the idea of picnicking along the rocks by yourself or with friends. (Thanks for the idea, grimacing Korean man!)

Igidae is made to be a casual hike, and it works. It’s relatively short, relatively easy, and exceptionally beautiful—and on top of all that, we were the only Westerners in sight. I think that legitimately qualifies it (for foreigners) as one of the city’s best-kept secrets.

Directions: there are two ways you can go:

1) A LONGER WALK TO IGIDAE: From Namcheon metro, get off at exit 3 and take your first left. Walk down till the road dead-ends, turn right, and then turn left onto the busy road. Continue past the big intersection at Mega Mart, and continue for a while till you get to Igidae.

2) BY BUS; SHORTER WALK: From the Kyungsung subway, get out exit 5, do an about-face, and go around the corner. Walk straight one and a half blocks (you’ll pass a Paris Baguette) till you get to the bus stop. Take any bus EXCEPT the 10 and 155 (so YES for the ones in the 20s (24, 27, etc) and also the 131). You’ll go about 5 stops to the IGIDAE stop. The bus will turn right just before you need to get off. You’ll be able to see a big mountain.

Get off the bus, backtrack a lil, and cross the street (you’ll be walking towards an eyeglasses shop with a blue sign). Follow that road till it keeps winding around to the park. It’s a 5-10 minute walk just to get to the park, so keep at it. 


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Jun 012011
 

For all the folks living outside of Busan, it’s going to be beach season soon, so now’s the perfect time to head to Busan for a weekend trip before the masses hit the beaches.

We’ve put together a sample itinerary for a kick-ass 2-day trip to Busan and our motel guide. So ditch your Lonely Planet book (They list Holly’s Coffee as one of their 2 places to drink in Nampo. Come on, LP… really?!?) and use our guide and site instead.


the diamond bridge on gwangalli beach, busan, south korea

Apr 192011
 

clams and mussels at taejongdae clam tentsThis is a strange memory, but I remember being 14 years old and watching a random show on the Discovery Channel or something similar on Okinawa. The people in the show were diving into piles of squid and clams and other strange sea aliens that I didn’t know the names of. It was cool when I was watching, but later that night, I’m pretty sure I had some Fear Factor-style nightmares, and I might have wet the bed. Not sure.

So anyway, flash forward to present-day in Busan. Who would have thought that one of the coolest things to do in this city was to eat the stuff that made me pee the bed all those years ago?

The Taejongdae clam tents are seriously a fun time. We show up after a long-ish bus ride to the end of Yeong-do, walk along this parking lot overlooking a pebble beach, and stroll down, scoping out the tents. I always feel like the prettiest girl at the ball as all the ladies who work the tents shout at my friends and me (Hey! Come on! You! Here!) and try to coax us into their tent. Don’t stress too much about the selection process: all are pretty much the same. They have no menus; our particular lady told us “memory” when we asked her for one, as she gestured towards the buckets of seafood out in front.

taejongdae clam tents eating on the pebble beachI’ve been here twice now, and both times, you just kind of mime what you want (or speak some Korean if you’ve got the skills), and the ladies will take care of the portions. I think clams (조개 – jo-gae) and mussels (홍합 – hong-hap) are the best things to go for here. There are also prawns (새우 – sae-oo) and some smaller shellfish, as well as Gaebul (the weird sea penis-looking things… I steer clear) if you’re feeling saucy. (NOTE: Just to be clear here: you’ll need to cook the clams. Sorry, just had to say it. You might want to use the scissors as well to cut the clams away from their shells).

There are no “prices” posted, but both times I’ve gone, it’s been about the same. For five people, mussels and clams, beer and some soju should run you 80-100k, depending on how much you drink. Another time, we had 10 people eating and the total was 160. Not bad, considering how much you get, and considering that the divers are about 50 meters away plucking the shellfish out of the ocean.

Tents at taejongdae that serve clamsTaejongdae is also a really nice scenic park that give you some nice views along the ocean, so you can go hiking before or after you eat. There is a small train (think something like those trains that go around the zoo) that goes around Taejongdae, and there is also a small ferry/tour boat that goes around a couple small rock islands off the coast. I’ve heard that you can get a ferry from Jagalchi market to Taejongdae, but I’m not sure about this.

Directions:

FROM JAGALCHI/NAMPO: get to Jagalchi metro station exit 10 and take bus 8.
FROM SEOMYEON: get the 88-B or 88-A across the street from Judie’s Taehwa. The ride is about an hour.
FROM POINTS EAST (east of Seomyeon): Metro to Daeyeon station, exit 2 and take the 101 all the way to Taejongdae. OR you can take the 139, 1001 or 1003 to the Munhyeon stop and transfer to the 101 there. The ride from Daeyeon will take about an hour.
FROM BUSAN STATION: Bus 101, 88-A or 88-B will do the trick.

Take the bus to the END of the line (TaeJongDae) and you’ll get off in a parking lot. Turn left and you’ll see the entrance to the park. Turn RIGHT after the Family Mart, BEFORE the main gate. Walk down the path (it looks kind of seedy) till you come to a parking lot. You’ll see the tents and the ocean. ATM and bathrooms are to your left of the parking lot, slightly uphill, and overlooking the clam tents.



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