Busan Fireworks Festival Part 2

At lunch, I spoke to my friend Hannah on the phone. She runs the blog Paint Me a Smile (and you should all go check it out!) We actually met here on WordPress, and we’ve been following each other’s blogs for about two months now. We both came to Korea around the same time to teach English and have been having a good time sharing our similar experiences.

We have been trying to meet in person for weeks now, but things kept on coming up. So, when we found out we were both going to be in Busan at the same, we had to make plans!

Steve and I were going to make our way to Shinsegae, the world’s largest department store, in the Centum City neighborhood of Busan. We took the subway, and there was an entrance right in the station. So, we headed inside and wandered around the first level while waiting for Hannah.

Shinsegae.

Shinsegae.

First impression of Shinsegae: insanely overwhelming. Such sensory overload! I’ve never been in a department store quite like this. There was an entire supermarket, food court, about a bazillion shops selling handbags and cosmetics (and that was only on one floor!).

Adorable animal pastries.

Adorable animal pastries.

Finally, Hannah was here and we went to meet her! We went back inside and made our way up and down the floors. Poor Steve had to deal with our girly shopping. He did some wandering of his own, though. We spent a long time in the department store, eventually taking a break for some coffee and food. WHILE WE SAT NEXT TO THE ICE SKATING RINK.

What a crazy place.

Then, we walked around Centum City for a bit until we returned to Haeundae. We went back to the market for street food and then did some more shopping.

Finally meeting Hannah!

Finally meeting Hannah!

Around 6:30, we decided to head over to Gwangalli, where the fireworks festival was taking place. As soon as we got out of the subway, the sheer quantity of people out was incredible. We followed the crowds towards the beach, stopping a few times for tasty street food along the way.

Hannah was trying to find some other foreigners she knew and it was nearly impossible to do so. There were police and even terrorist prevention squads everywhere. Eventually, she found them. They were sitting on the steps near the beach and Steve and I were invited to join. However, I was on the verge of a massive panic attack and could not bring myself to push through anymore people. So, Steve and I sat on the curb across the street and he brought me a drink to soothe my nerves. We still had a great view.

The show lasted from 8 until 9 and it was quite possibly the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen in my entire life! The backdrop was the beautiful Gwangan Bridge and they used music from Carly Rae Jepsen to the Beatles to Whitney Houston. It was fun to sing along to the songs. There were even lasers incorporated into the show. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a single picture because my phone died and I had nowhere to charge it.

After the show, Steve and I hung out at a bar to avoid the mass exodus of the crowds. We said goodbye to Hannah and, after a while, made our way towards the subway. Even though we waited to leave, it was still obscenely crowded. I was super tired and super cranky. Finally, we made it to the intercity bus terminal and headed back to Ulsan.

All in all, it was an amazing weekend!

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Busan Fireworks Festival Part 1

This weekend, Steve and I had plans to attend the Busan Fireworks Festival – supposedly one of the best in Asia. It sounded like an excellent way to spend a weekend!

So Friday night, after work, we took a bus from Ulsan to Haeundae.The ride was bumpy and left me wanting to lose my dinner. Now, I don’t mean I was going to be sick. I literally thought my cheeseburger was going to fly out of my hands mid-bite due to the jerky driving.

We arrived in Haeundae in one piece. The streets were lit up and there were so many delicious smells in the air. After finding a motel, we left our backpacks and went out to explore the night. We walked down the main stretch until we got to the beach. It was balmy (for the end of October) and we took a stroll along the boardwalk. There were so many people out: drinking, eating, and laughing. It was great!

Steve and I.

Steve and I.

On the way back, we stopped at a bar called the Fuzzy Navel for a drink. There were lots of foreigners and an excellent DJ. Steve got a beer and I got a pina colada. After, we decided to get a massive coronita which is pretty much a margarita with a little Corona in it. We walked around for a while more, got some late night snacks, and turned in for the night.

In the morning, we headed out to explore the bustling Haeundae Market. Breakfast consisted of spicy fried chicken and meat on skewers. We saw assorted fish for sale, and fruits, and vegetable. Mandu. Hotteok. Mountains of different fried foods. A variety of shops selling clothes and accessories. There was so much energy. I really love open markets like this.

Street food at Haeundae Market.

Street food at Haeundae Market.

Making our way towards the beach again, we decided to go to the Sea Life Busan Aqaurium. (I had printed off 20% off admission coupons the night before.) As soon as we got our tickets and went down the escalator into the aquarium, I began to feel like a little kid. The aquarium had a really cool, almost ethereal feel to its exhibits. There were otters and penguins and sea turtles and sharks. I was so excited, squealing “aww” at everything I passed. They even had a rehabilitation center for injured porpoises. It was a really fun activity for all ages.

Jellyfish at Sea Life Busan Aquarium.

Jellyfish at Sea Life Busan Aquarium.

After the aquarium, it was time for lunch. We had originally wanted to go to a restaurant in the area that supposedly had Mexican food, but after looking at the menu we decided it was just really overpriced garbage for Westerners. Instead, we found an Indian/Lebanese restaurant. It was a little pricey for entrees, so we ordered some delicious appetizers instead. We got samosas, hummus, and Lebanese bread. Steve got Arabic coffee, which I’m pretty sure was just chai. The food was amazing, though.

Our samosas and hummus.

Our samosas and hummus.