After some unique days in the Temple of Golgulsa, we decided to stay a few days in Gyeongju before we moved on towards Busan.
Gyeongju is a small Korean city in the south-west of Korea. The city itself reminded me of Bad Tölz – a nice small city with plenty of outdoor pursuits surrounded by stunning nature.
It was strange to go back to the civilization after some days in a temple. I can’t imagine how it must feel if you stayed in a temple for months or years.
Our accommodation in Geongyu was very good. A small room with futons and a shared kitchen on the ground floor. Our plan was to stay in Gyeongju for two days, doing some hiking and then take the bus to Busan. But the weather was too bad for hiking and the city was so nice, that we changed our plans and extended our stay for a few more days.
We spend our time strolling around, discovering the neighborhood and finding nice coffee or food places.
After two days of bad weather the sun came out again and we went out for a perfect hike in the nearby hills. It felt so good to be out in nature for a whole day, just enjoying the spring sun, a cold breeze and the green of the trees.
Gyeongju is not really made for foreign tourists, but if you are in that area of Korea its really worth a visit. You can easily access it by train or bus from Seoul or Busan. (And you pass right through it on your way to your temple stay at Golgulsa 😉 .
We enjoyed our time there, but yet again, it was time to move on. In our case further south to Koreas second biggest city, Busan.
Mmh. I really don’t want to hurt anyone, but Busan was not really my cup of tea. Maybe we just spend too little time there to find the really good places or I was too frustrated with the ongoing rain. But I didn’t really enjoy it.
Busan was just an hour drive by bus from Gyeongju. First of all, it was really hard to find an accommodation which fits our demands and budget and is not a love hotel. In the end, we spend too much money on a low standard accommodation and we had to move because nothing was free for more than 2 nights.
I love to travel spontaneous, booking things just one or two days in advance and it mostly works out, but not really this time in Korea.
Busan is a big harbor city with many influences from other countries. But I missed an old city center with beautiful hanoks.
But to be honest not everything was bad. We also found some very good coffee places and explored the neighborhood.
As you know we love Korean food and makgeolli (traditional Korean rice wine) so it never gets boring to discover new food places, trying new street food or just stumbling into a very local bar for makgeolli.
On another day we made our way to Gamcheon – a former fisherman village. We had a wonderful day while strolling around and enjoying the colorful art at every corner, even though it was raining from time to time.
After a few days, we left Busan with mixed feelings. On the one hand we liked the (street-)food and the culture, but on the other hand, we were not really enjoying Busan itself.
To boat or not to boat
One of the reasons why we came to Busan in the first place was to board the ferry to Fukuoka, Japan – our next stop. After so many flights, we thought it would be a nice touch to arrive in Japan by boat. We arrived at the ferry terminal a bit early (as usual). Pro-Tip: Don’t walk to the ferry terminal in Busan – it it’s a long walk. Be smarter, take the shuttle bus.
However, our relation to boat trips on this journey remains unlucky. About half an hour before check-in, the info-displays suddenly showed our ferry as “cancelled”. It turned out that the weather condition was too bad. All ferries for the day of our departure were canceled without substitution. We were a bit shocked, to say the least.
We had two options: 1. Stay one more night in Busan and hoping that the weather gets better overnight. 2. Find and book a flight for the same day.
We chose option 2. We just booked a flight for the same day (3 hours later) right at the harbor, jumped into a taxi from the harbor to the airport and off we were towards Japan.
The funny thing is: I really wanted to take the ferry, but in the end, the flight was even cheaper (because it was super last minute order) and faster. I think we should not try the boat trip thing again… somehow the weather doesn’t want to see us on a boat during this journey.
(Quick hat tip towards directferries.com support. Even though their website looks a bit shady, they immediately refunded the total amount of our booking).
Anyway. To sum it up. We love Korea, especially Seoul and the food. We are sad to leave the country, so I’m more than sure that we will come back. But I’m also really looking forward to Japan where we meet our friend Fabian and his family. It is a bit strange. We are now traveling for more than three months, just the two of us. Its true that you will meet many people from all over the world and made new friends, but its also very nice to meet a very good old friend from time to time. Japan – here we come!