5.3.1: Fukuoka, Pusan and Gyeongju

Day 228: Night Bus to Fukuoka

I arrived in Fukuoka 15 hours after leaving Tokyo. It was a long time to have to spend on a bus but it was 12,000¥ cheaper than taking the shinkansen. I checked into my hostel and then went for a walk around town. I visited a shopping mall and a shrine with some interesting statues but there wasn’t a huge amount else to see in town. In the evening I had a beer and my last microwaved bento box in Japan which I picked up from the nearby Lawson’s. Afterwards I watched a James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, before going to bed.

228.1. Photos from around Fukuoka.

Day 229: Fukuoka to Pusan

This morning I went to the bus stop at Hakata station to get a bus to the ferry terminal. When I arrived at the bus stop I recognized a guy who was at the same hostel last night. He introduced himself as Rhys and said that he is from Wales and had come to Japan for a few weeks holiday. He was also headed to the ferry port as he was going to visit his cousin John who is teaching English in Pusan. When we got to the port we checked in and went to a café for breakfast before getting the ferry. The ferry that we took is a hydrofoil called the Beetle and makes the trip to South Korea in about three hours, so it’s pretty fast – the conventional ferry takes 15 hours. Coming into Pusan reminded me a little of when I arrived in Hong Kong, with many tall buildings and mountains looming behind them. When we arrived we met John at the terminal and took a taxi to his apartment so that Rhys could leave his bag. We then went to Seomyeong to find my hostel, which took a while as it was in a huge building and on the 15th floor. When we eventually found it, the place was empty so I left my bag there anyway and we went for lunch at TGI Friday. After lunch we went to visit the Pusan tower from which there are spectacular views over the harbour.

229.1. The view from the Pusan tower.

We then went to Nampo dong to meet a friend of John’s called Rachel. We went for a drink at the Cool Bar, which is quite strange in that it has essentially a convenience store inside it where you have to buy your beer before you sit down. We then went for a Korean barbeque. We got a plate of pork slices which you can grill on a hot plate at your table. When each piece is cooked you wrap it in a lettuce leaf, along with the ubiquitous kimchi (pickled cabbage). After dinner we went for a walk around town and went to another bar before I headed back to Seomyeong to my hostel.

229.2. Korean barbeque in Pusan.

When I arrived I met June, the guy who runs it. He was very friendly and helpful and suggested some places that I could see tomorrow. I met up with some of the other guys at the hostel and we decided to go out for a drink. I came back at around 2:00 and went to bed.

Day 230: Pusan

Today I went to visit Beomeosa Temple which was right at the end of one of the metro lines. I then had to take a bus quite a long way up a hill to reach the temple. I almost got off at the wrong stop but the driver told me to stay on. The temple was quite lively with lots of people there to pray as well as monks putting up lanterns and decorations ahead of the celebrations for Buddha’s birthday which is tomorrow.

230.1. Colourful celebrations at Beomeosa Temple ahead of The Buddha’s birthday.

After visiting the temple I walked up the hill towards the ruins of the citadel. On the way up a Korean man stopped to talk to me and he gave me a handful of sweets. It was quite strange but I was glad of them since I hadn’t eaten anything today except a piece of toast in the morning. I followed the walls of the citadel and came back into town through the university.

230.2. From the walk back to town along the walls of an ancient citadel.

230.3. Walking beer bottles.

When I got back to the hostel June introduced me to an English guy who had just arrived and we went out together to a nearby restaurant. The place that June recommended was a restaurant that specializes in Tuna shashimi. It was really good and would have been ridiculously expensive if I’d had it in Japan, but here it was quite reasonable. We went back to the hostel and watched a Korean movie about a serial killer before going to bed.

Day 231: Pusan to Gyeongju

From this point on I no longer kept up my journal on my travels so all further text is based on my memory and the photos themselves.

Today I went on the bus to Gyeongju which is the old capital of Korea. I got a room at a hostel around the corner from the bus station. When I checked in I met an American chap called Alex who was teaching English in Bangkok but had taken a couple of months off to travel in Asia. We arranged to meet for a beer later on in the evening and I went for a walk around the town.

231.1. Photos taken around Gyeongju.

Day 232: Gyeongju

Today I went with Alex and a Dutch girl who was also staying at the hostel to visit the nearby Bulguksa Temple.

232.1. Pictures from the compound at Bulguksa Temple.