by Roaming Panda
I had the chance to visit Busan last year when I took my second annual mecca to Asia. Busan was the last stop and I couldn't have been more excited. I'm normally the planner, but in this case, I left our itinerary up to my cousin to handle. My only request was that I had to try Hanwoo beef (Korea's version of Kobe beef).
I honestly didn't know much about Korea and Korean culture. It's one of the few languages I had no idea how to even say the most basic of words like: "hello" or "thank you". I grew up speaking Cantonese, and while my Mandarin is shit, I knew enough to get by. I studied 4 years of Spanish in high school, which I shockingly retained pretty well, and I watch enough Anime to be able to scream out "NANI!" when I'm surprised. I had no clue how to read any of the Korean characters and I couldn't even thank someone if my life depended on it.
Luckily, Korea is very foreigner friendly. There's pretty much an "English" caption on everything and most people speak enough English to be helpful. Worst-case scenario, every thing has a picture. Just point and smile.
We went in October and the weather was perfect. The leaves were changing and the foliage was alive with color. Coming from Florida where seasons are non-existent, red leaves are cool. Half the time I didn't know where I was, but I didn't care. The food was good, the people were friendly, and the sites we visited were beautiful. The places I could name were Haeundae Beach, Gamcheon Village, Songdo Beach Skywalk, and the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (ok maybe I wasn't that lost).
Worth a mention on its own is the Jagalchi Fish Market. Oh man, if you like seafood, look no further. Whether you're a local looking to take a fresh catch home or a seafood enthusiast looking to pig out on the freshest offerings from the ocean, this place has got your number. There are a bunch of vendors outside the main market and a variety of restaurants that will serve you things you've never seen before. We ate at one of the outside restaurants before entering the actual fish market. If you're feeling frisky, try the "live" octopus. Might give you a fight going down ;)
The market itself is huge with multi-levels. My past experience with fish markets is that it smells like absolute ass but this one did not smell at all. Everything is super fresh and they had some of the biggest lobsters I've ever seen. Everything you buy can be cooked in one of the kitchens upstairs. Go check it out.
Having been there now, I can see why so many Westerners have moved and settled there. South Korea is vibrant, clean, safe, and just a very warm and inviting country. Would love to visit Seoul next time and see and eat even more of what South Korea has to offer. To check out the entire gallery of pics from this trip, click HERE.
On a side note, I did end up trying Hanwoo beef, but that's worthy of its own post so come back next time.