This is the brilliant Haeundae I’Park, not far from our hotel. The tallest tower is 80 stories, while one of the other towers includes the Park Hyatt hotel. We expected to see this kind of striking design in Seoul, but found it in Busan.
From Seoul in South Korea’s northeast we took a high-speed train to Busan, the country’s second city and one of the world’s largest ports, in the country’s southwest. It’s great being in a place that’s small enough and where the rail infrastructure is so good you can get across the country in just a couple of hours. I’d read of Busan (then known as Pusan) from it’s role in the Korean War. In 1950, when the North steamrolled over Seoul and essentially all the rest of the country, Gen. MacArthur and his troops made their final stand on the Pusan Perimeter. The line held – unlike other lines the U.S. troops had tried to establish, allowing MacArthur to land troops behind the North Korean lines at Incheon, thus dramatically altering the course of the war. Until, of course, he pushed too far north and fortunes were reversed again. But that’s another story.
We loved Busan, and my only regret is that we only had four days to enjoy it. We had some great food, saw some brilliant architecture, stumbled into a red light district (!), and had a great room with a great view of the South Korea’s best beach.
Another architectural wonder is the Busan Cinema Center, home to the Busan International Film Festival. The building here has the world’s largest cantilever roof, as certified by no less an authority than the Guinness Book of World Records. Now I don’t know exactly what a cantilever roof is, but it has something to do with the enormous distance between the end of the roof and the center structure supposedly holding the whole thing up.
Busan plays up its desire to be seen as an international film center. Here I am standing in a big cave with Tarzan. Weird.
This was the view from our hotel room; as you can see we were right on the beach. The weather cleared up brilliantly after this first-day picture, but it was still not quite beach season. Still, the view made the room a great place to hang out, especially for Mark as he continues to take it easy and spend lots of time icing his recovering knee.
We have definitely been getting into Korean food. We don’t exactly understand it or know what to expect, but in most cases you order … something … and they bring many, many small dishes to go with it. It’s spicy and sometimes a little weird tasting, but it’s been pretty good so far.
A highlight was our journey to Beomeo-sa, a Buddhist temple nestled in the mountains north of the main part of the city. Getting there consisted of a subway ride going something like 15 stops, connecting to another subway line going 14 stops or so, and then catching a taxi (up) and a bus (down), but it was very much worth it.
These plastic light shades blanketed large areas of the temple adding a beautiful touch to the temple
And as the sunlight came through, it created this fascinating pattern on what otherwise is just a plain dirt surface
You may have heard the Buddhism is a peaceful religion. Well. This was at the bottom of a statue in the temple, with some huge god or other trampling this poor guy. Doesn’t look very calm and centered to me.