Travel Thru’ The Lens: Summer in Korea Part 3

Shot this at the roof top of Jagalchi Market Building.

“Situated on the most south-eastern portion of the Korean peninsula, Busan is Korea’s second largest city and the number 1 trading port. Korea’s first truly international city, Busan (Pusan) connects Asia, Europe, and North America. This geopolitically situated harbor city sits adjacent to the Korean Straits and Japan, bringing about an interchange of trade and tourism. This intercultural current has made Busan into the international metropolis it is today.”

After we bid the K Shuttle behind, we we’ll spend 2 nights in Busan before heading back to Seoul.

I would say I enjoy Busan a wee bit more than Seoul although both has their own attractiveness. Busan to me is more laid back, more ‘real’ or less pretentious than the cosmopolitan feel of Seoul.

In a way it reminded me of Taiwan too since it is also a sea port with a great selection of seafood at Jagalchi Market. The street shopping here may not be as swanky as Myeongdong but the energy is still there.

Size does matter here. Wonder how to eat this…

Gwangalli Beach

“Gwangalli Beach (광안리 해수욕장), located to the west of Haeundae Beach, is known for its pristine water. The beach is a favorite hangout of the young and is usually more crowded than other beaches (with the exception of Haeundae Beach). Here, visitors can enjoy the unique, downtown-like atmosphere of numerous cafés, exotic restaurants (including over 300 sashimi restaurants), and shopping malls. Visitors can even check out the outdoor stage set up on the beach, where a range of festivals, programs, and events are held throughout the beach season. There’s plenty to see; visitors are especially advised not to miss the night view of Gwangandaegyo Bridge, a breathtaking display of light and color.”

The fastest way to describe Gwangalli Beach is Gold Coast. Commercialised, full of tourists and yes definitely not the place to come by if you want some peace and quiet. Then again, it is party central with hordes of youngsters thronging the cafe, bars, eateries and restaurants lining up along the beach front. So it is not really boring if you want some ‘action’ and can be a nice place to hang out with a group of friends.

Busan is a port city that has three main beaches that holiday makers flock to. The most popular is Haeundae Beach and Gwangalli Beach. Songjeong is a bit far for us to wander to so we skipped that.
The reason why we come to Gwangalli is to witness the Diamond Bridge at blue hour.
There is a light show using the bridge as the canvas. Quite captivating actually. But the beach is choked full of people and they just walked in front of my camera (seriously)

Taejongdae Park

“Designated as a Busan monument, along with Oryukdo Island, Taejongdae (태종대) represents Busan, and is especially famous for its rock beach. Featuring its highest peak at 250 meters, there are forests of pine trees and other 200 varieties of trees. Taejongdae was named after the 29th king of Silla Kingdom BC57-AD 935), King TaeJong Mu-Yeol (604-661). King TaeJong had traveled to many places but this was the place he enjoyed shooting arrows.”

Taejongdae to me is one of those touristy places just to see and understand what it is all about. The high point of the place literally is the lighthouse and should be visited during sunset and sunrise. We basically went there in the late morning with the sun shining. Thankfully there is a tram service but one has to wait (for us? 1.5 hours) to take it to the Lighthouse. Or course one can opt to walk but seriously, not under a hot sun.

Waiting for the tram service
From the tram station, we take a walk down to see the lighthouse. It would look awesome during sunrise.
A long way down. Reminds me of Gibson Steps at the 12 Apostles.
The beach looked really enticing.

Gamcheon Culture Village

Then there is Gamcheon Culture village, like Jeonju Hanok, it has married the local architecture with the arts and mix it up to such a point the area has that allure. Yet another great place for street photography. The best way to describe this is Lego Blocks on a cliff. Some say Santorini of Greece but it is so rainbow coloured as opposed to Santorini’s white. This place never gets bored for me as it is so big to wander and get lost a bit. I let the photos do the talking.

BIFF Square

The best place to shop I would say is the Busan International Film Festival Square or BIFF Square which is just opposite Jagalchi Market. The place is basically shopping and eating all rolled into one into one superb big mess I would say.

If you come from Jagalchi Market, these arches in BIFF square will just be across the street.
Yummy!
Good food must Q!
You can do it the local style. Sit down on a small stool and take in some kimchi or rolled rice.
By the end of the hot day, the Bingsu is a welcome treat! Basically the Korean version of Ice Kacang.

Back To Seoul

The easiest way to take a quick trip back to Seoul is via the KTX which is their bullet train. Within three hours you can get to the southern tip to the Northern city very quickly. Not to mention it is clean and very comfortable too. For price tickets you can check here.

All aboard!

Just find the carriage and then your seat and you are set to go and we reach Seoul in less than 3 hours.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)

There are some other places one can visit while in Seoul if you are not really into shopping. We went as a group to check out the DDP or Dongdaemun Design Plaza

“Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is a blend of traditional buildings, relics and cutting-edge modern multicultural facilities. Seoul Fortress, Igansumun Water Gate (floodgate channeling water from Namsan Mountain to Cheonggyecheon Stream and Seoul Fortress), Dongdaemun History Hall, the Dongdaemun Excavation Site, Dongdaemun Sports Memorial Hall, Event Hall, and Design Gallery can all be found at the DDP.”

If you are into architectural photography or design, this is the IT place to go. I find myself in awe of the space inside and out and could spend a good few hours with a camera and tripod to take this place. Granted that there are a lot of people but a simple ND1000 filter will blur them out just fine. Pity that I don’t have much time in Seoul.

By night time, the LED Roses outside of the DDP are lighted up, creating a hype romantic atmosphere (if you can ignore the hordes of people around you).

Cheonggyecheon 

“Until it was restored in 2005, Cheonggyecheon Stream existed only as a neglected waterway hidden by an overpass. Today, it has been transformed into a haven of natural beauty amidst the bustle of city life.”

I am always fascinated by engineering feats to transport urban landscape into green spaces and Cheong Gye Cheon is one such project. I would love to traverse the whole length of the stream and cut through central Seoul but really Summer is not the time to do it. It is nice to see people enjoying green spaces once more.

Bukchon (北村) Hanok Village & Insadong

“Surrounded by Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine, Bukchon Hanok Village is home to hundreds of traditional houses called ‘hanok’ that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. The name, ‘Bukchon,’ which literally translates to ‘northern village,’ came about as the neighborhoods that the village covers lie to the north of the two significant Seoul landmarks, Cheonggyecheon Stream and Jongno. Today, many of these hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses, providing an opportunity to experience, learn and immerse in Korean traditional culture.”

If you are a bit tight for time but still want to see the traditional houses, then Bukchon is a good compromise. It is very near to Isadong, a shopping area for the arts and crafts so a full day can be spent here. There is actually a trail that you can follow but I decided to start from the end and make my way back to the start. It turns out to be a good choice because at the end of the trail (which is the start of the trail for most), is a cafe that sells ice cold coffee in beer style (It is served from a tap, like beer) and I get to see a photo studio shooting in black and white film. Then gentle monster, the sunglass company, has a shop in a bath house too. So it ended well for me.

All in the place is good for some nice portraiture too especially the area nearest to Geyongbokgung with some nice western style cafe and shops.

If I ever have to visit another Hanok Village, An Dong will be it.

It is a long walk…

Coffee lovers will love the new process that results in the making of Nitro Coffee, a sort of cold brewing method that somehow reduces the acidity and pull the maximum favour out of the coffee. One word: Shiok!

Not everyday you get to see old school photo studio that still uses film. And a visit to this place is an amazing experience in itself and I love the way the photographer is able to make his subject feel natural while not posing them as they sat or stand up straight. Awesome…simply awesome. Oh…he only started this 7 years ago.

It was really raining cats and dogs once I got out of Bukchon and into Insadong area. But incremental weather doesn’t mean one can’t shoot. It just gave another dimension while shooting street.

So fast my 3rd trip to Korea this year ended just as quickly as the NX Traveller and my Japan-Busan Cruise on Princess. There are of course places I have been and new ones that opens my eyes to the history of the land and see new things too. I personally would like to see more of the Eastern side of Korea now, especially An Dong and Bulguksa Temple hopefully toward the end of the year during Autumn.

One can hope can’t I?

For more photos, please click here

Note: All comments in notation are taken from visitkorea.or.kr unless otherwise stated

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