When Autumn and I were planning our trip, we knew we wanted to spend some time outside of Seoul. Originally, we considered a weekend in the mountains skiing or relaxing at hot springs, but some of Autumn’s Korean friends advised that the week of Christmas would be one of the busiest and most expensive for winter activities. We circled back and ultimately decided to visit the city of Busan.
Busan is Korea’s second largest city and home to the country’s largest port. It’s located on the Southeastern coast of the Korean peninsula and is known for its beaches and relatively warm weather. The city is conveniently connected to Seoul via a very fast, three-hour journey on Korea’s high-speed rail.
I’ve ridden trains around the world, Amtrak in the United States (a bad joke), the TGV in France (great when not striking), Le Frecce in Italy (very Italian), but nothing holds a candle to the high-speed rail systems of East Asia. Whenever I find myself inexplicably delayed on a slow, rumbling train in the United States, I dream of past journeys: Shanghai to Beijing, Tokyo to Osaka, and now Seoul to Busan.
We left Seoul on Sunday morning and arrived in Busan in the early afternoon. We’d booked an Airbnb (always more interesting and often cheaper than a hotel in a non-Western country). We weren’t able to check in until that evening, so we dumped our stuff in a luggage locker and hopped on the subway towards Busan’s Jagalchi Fish Market.
The central market is housed inside an enormous multi-story warehouse, but stalls of men and women hawking all manner of live seafood spill out over the surrounding half-dozen or so blocks. We wandered around the fish market for a couple of hours and headed back to our Airbnb to check in.
For dinner, we decided to return to Jagalchi Market to find a place to eat. We stumbled across and entire floor of restaurants that offered to prepare and serve any seafood you picked out (along with generous helpings of Soju and Banchan). We ordered a large portion of uni, sashimi, grilled mackerel, and perhaps the most adventurous dish – live octopus.
After dinner, we found a movie theater and bought tickets to the new Star Wars movie (which was thankfully subtitled and not dubbed). After the movie, we picked up some snacks and headed back to our Airbnb.