A Sunny Beach!

2 Aug

Busan, the second largest city in South Korea, is on the southeast coast and is known for its beaches, which was a prime reason why I wanted to pay it a visit. Tons of other people also like to pay Busan a visit during the summer, which I found out the hard way when the free bus from Seoul to Busan was booked for the next month and no hostel had more than two night’s availability. (I guess you do need to plan ahead to do some things. But, as the theme of this trip is to just go with whatever happens, I didn’t let this obstacle ruin things.)

After a long morning and afternoon on the slow train (I didn’t take the KTX, the high-speed train, so I could save some won), I arrived at my hostel late in the day. Due to the limited availability, the hostel I booked was in Nam-gu (gu meaning district) and far away from the main beaches of Busan, but it ended up being an amazing place – it was on the second floor of a high rise condo with close views of the famous Oryukdo islets, a series of five/six uninhabited rock islands (the fifth island turns into two at high tide) right off the coast. As it was soon to be getting dark when I dropped off my luggage, I decided to do a quick exploration of the area around the hostel.

A few islands of the Oryukdo islets

I was very excited to find that there is a long trail extending along the coast from the viewing point of the Oryukdo islets all the way to the other side of Nam-gu where the Gwangan bridge connects Nam-gu to the gu with the main beach. The view along the trail was absolutely gorgeous.

The trail itself went up and down, winding around the coast through trees and rocks for 5 km, and was very slippery in parts due to a rainfall earlier that day.

The trail from Oryukdo to Gwangan Bridge - I swear it was harder than it looks in this picture!

It was a challenging walk – one might even go so far as to classify it as a hike – and it was great fun.  Despite the strenuousness of the walk, I felt a combo of exhilaration and peacefulness being right by the sea. (Or the ocean. Or the sea passage. Or the channel. I’m not quite sure how to refer to the Korean Straight.)

The view near the end of the trail with Gwangan Bridge in the background

My only full day in Busan was going to be spent at the beach, rain or shine. Miraculously, I woke up on the top bunk in my hostel dorm room to sun glaring in my eyes. I jetted off to Haeundae (that’s Hi – yoon – die, not Hyundai like Sunday), the main beach in Busan. I had heard that this beach gets ridiculously crowded, especially during the tourist season, but I figured if I was only going to be in Busan one day, I should see what the main attraction is all about.

The beach WAS really crowded. The entire beach was covered in umbrellas under which hundreds of people were relaxing. (Koreans, like most Asians, don’t like to sunbathe. Smart people, but missing out on a great pleasure, I would say.) I was lucky, though – right away, a beach attendant rushed me to an umbrella and got me all set up. I had to pay 10,000 won for the spot on the beach, which was my entire food budget for the day, but I didn’t care. Because I was on the beach. In the sun. (I used my umbrella to protect my kindle from overheating.)

View of Haeundae Beach from Dongbaek Island

I spent all day soaking up rays on my 50 spf’d skin. When the sun finally disappeared, I walked along the beach, cooling off my skin, listening to live music blasting from a band on a stage that had been set up at some point without my noticing, and basically just zigzagging across the sand. I finally made it to the end of the beach and climbed a huge set of wooden stairs to Dongbaek Island (which is actually no longer an island due to a build-up of silt and sand). I loitered around Dongbaek for a while, taking in the view of the sea (yes, I decided to call it a sea) and watching the dozens of fisherman trying to catch dinner or maybe their livelihood. What a great day! Hours of Vitamin D absorption always makes me feel wonderful.

I’m headed to the airport bright and early to catch a flight to Manila tomorrow. Philippines, here I come!


6 Responses to “A Sunny Beach!”

  1. Lindsay Thompson August 9, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    A favorite part of my day is reading your blog and getting a small piece of all the adventures your are on (so amazing). Happy Travels Bestie! Now… how are/ were the philippines?

    • carlylarson August 22, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

      yay, bestie, i’m so glad! :) philippines were so so so great – amazing beaches and super friendly people. will update blog soon!

  2. Fauth August 10, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Soooo cool!! That is definitely a hiking trail. Exercise, reading, & sun – bliss! I love hearing about your adventures!

    • carlylarson August 22, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

      yes, see, i KNEW it was a hike! good thing you took us on those camping trips when we were little so i know how to maneuver through the woods :)

  3. Sarah August 11, 2011 at 2:48 am #

    Hi Carly! It’s Sarah (Connie’s friend:))- just wanted to say you are living my dream! And now I’m having anxiety about being pregnant! All I know is I better still be able to travel the world, at least in some form after the baby comes. How else can I expect to run into you at an airport in South America again??? Have an amazing time- you are an inspiration to all the corporate lawyers out there. xoxo

    • carlylarson August 22, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

      thanks sarah!!! you can definitely still travel the world with a baby – that will just make your li’l one the luckiest baby ever! :) and congrats btw!!!

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