|Busan is the second largest city in Korea and sits right on the coast on the Korea Strait which connects the East China Sea with the Sea of Japan. It is a large city, though not anywhere near the size of Seoul. Sang told me that South Korea is working hard now to build up other cities besides Seoul. It seems true: Busan has construction going on all over the city.
I arrived at the train station around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The station is large, modern, and impeccably clean. I found the tourist information center and got directions to where I was staying. I reserved a room on AirBnB in Haeundae, near the beach. After a quick lunch, I went in search of the metro terminal. It was in plain sight in front of the train station, but somehow I had to have a local tell me where to find it. Ugh.
I like subways. They are predictable. They always stop at predictable. places, and it is easy to follow where you are and how many stops you have to go. It was a pretty far ride to Haeundae, took me about 40 minutes to get there. I found the street easily enough, but wasn't quite sure what I was looking for in the way of a home. The street was lined with hotels, some big and some small. Fortunately, I found a street number on the building...on the second try...and took the elevator to the 8th floor. Sunny's home is the entire 8th floor of the building. She was a delightful host, despite speaking very little English. She offered me lemon tea and showed me the room. The lemon tea was sweet and good. The room was cozy enough.
It was still cold in Busan, though perhaps not as cold as Seoul. But, how many times are you in Busan, so I put on my coat and headed out the door. Haeundae Beach is nice and, in warmer weather, probably worth wandering. There were a lot of people there. Most were feeding the swarms of gulls flying at you from every direction. I had an Alfred Hitchcock flashback. I found a warm place to grab a Korean-style burger.
When I stepped outside, the sun had gone down and it was really cold. I decided I needed a warm place to go, so made my way to Spa Land, the mother of all Korean saunas. It was a mere three stops up the metro and sits inside the biggest department store in the world. Put on my spa pajamas and started wandering among the dozens of different themed hot rooms. I walked outside to stick my feet in a warm foot pool, but decided it was a bad idea. Hot feet and cold the rest of me. Not good.
When I got back to the house, Sunny introduced me to her youngest son. He is a college student home for winter break. He spent a year in Orlando as an exchange student when he was in high school and his English is pretty good. I'm not sure he really wanted to talk to me, but his mom wanted him to translate for her and he was kind enough to help her. Sunny offered to drive me over to Haedong Yonggung Temple, a Buddhist temple that sits right on the ocean. Apparently, this is an oddity since most temples are located in the mountains. But this one was built in the 14th Century by some monk who wanted to celebrate the depths of the sea. I quickly accepted as it seemed it would be a little difficult to get to.