Winter Holidays – Busan (Day 1)

This trip actually occurred last month, whilst I was still on winter break. However, due to various reasons, I have been busy in recent weeks and I am only just getting around to posting about it now.

I intend to leave China this summer. As such, I wanted to visit some places I had not been before; hence my trip to Taipei in September, and now my trip to Busan. In the lead-up, I read online that my T-Money card, a subway card I got when I visited Seoul a couple of years ago, could also work in Busan. This was good, as it meant easier travel on the subway; however, I did not know how much money was on the card (in the end there was enough). I only intended to go for a couple of days (three nights). Booking the trip also experienced some problems. I booked it when I returned from San Francisco, and trying to book the flight was difficult as the website kept freezing. Eventually, I managed it, and booked a hotel too. The flight was mid-afternoon. South Korea is an hour ahead of China, and the flight is only a couple of hours.

I arrived in the evening, and took the subway to the city centre, where my hotel was. I had a rough idea of where the hotel was located (though I did not have a map, as the print office was closed on campus, so I was not able to print a map out). Google maps was useful, and I knew it was roughly next to a 7-11. This being South Korea, however, there are 7-11’s everywhere! I found the hotel without too much difficulty, thankfully, and checked in. The room was large, with lots of free space.

The first full day I decided that, given my love of films, I should go to the Busan Movie Museum. On arrival, I found out there was also the Magic Eye Museum, which is a series of rooms where there are optical illusions and you can take photos of yourself in them. You could buy a ticket for both museums (they were in the same building), which I did. When purchasing them, the staff gave me a small, free packet of M&Ms, because I was there on Valentine’s Day. The magic eye sets were interesting, but as I was there alone (and at 10:00, just after it opened, so it was very quiet), I could not take any photos of myself in them.

I then headed into the movie museum. This was fine too, and I used the free WiFi to download an app, which gave an audio tour in English. This was useful, as there were not many English signs. However, it was not the easiest to navigate and sometimes it repeated sections and other times it did not play the sections I was at. Still, it offered a broad introduction to the museum and its exhibitions. I do not know much about the Korean movie business, which this museum largely covered, so at least I learnt a little. The museum is probably worth a visit if you like Korean films, or even know much about film-making. For me, it was moderately interesting to wander around, and they had a cool virtual reality bit, which I liked.

The museum was next to a park where the Busan Tower – an observation tower – was located. The view was pretty good and you could see a decent amount from there. I had lunch in a restaurant at the tower, and then went to the nearby Museum of Modern History. The woman on reception was helpful, giving me an English brochure and also pointing me towards the film room, where a film about Busan played, in English (the museum was very quiet too, and I was the only person watching the film). The rest of the museum detailed the city’s development.

In the afternoon, I took the subway to the Museum of History (different from the modern history one; this one had far older artefacts).

Behind the museum was the UN Memorial Cemetery Korea, from the Korean War. You could wander through the cemetery, and there was a chapel which showed a short film about the cemetery and the war. It was rather poignant and peaceful, like an oasis in the middle of a busy city. There were flags and monuments from all the nations involved in the conflict.

After this, I headed back to the subway, picked up some food and went back to my room for the evening.

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