After spending a month and a half in Tokyo I was ready for a change in scenery. I've grown used to the flow of the city: waiting for trains, walking home, deciphering kanji on the menus of ramen restaurants. Living in Tokyo a part of my routine; one of the hardest and most life-changing routines I've had to develop but routine none the less.
The best way to appreciate the space you live in daily is to take a break from it. When DC became too monotonous I would take a trip to NYC to clear my head. Now that I'm in Tokyo a quick jaunt to South Korea is how I'll re-ground myself.
Originally my goal was to travel to Thailand, but after discovering how hot it becomes in April I decided that the temperate climate of South Korea would be better for my aesthetic. Instead of flying from Tokyo to Seoul I decided to take the ferry from Fukuoka to Busan instead. This way I could squeeze two extra cities into my trip.
Busan is the second largest city in South Korea and is thought of as Korea's San Francisco. While there the city was building frantically as its the home of the 2030 World Expo.
The first thing I noticed in Busan and later Seoul is the sheer number of sculptures I have never seen so many statues and sculptures around a city as I have while traveling through South Korea and I'm from DC.
I felt awkward navigating around this foreign culture and new language. But at the same time, I felt alive. Nowhere did this contradiction feel more literal then inside a restaurant. The first picture above is the restaurant I ate after checking into my hostel. The first time I saw the prices on the menu I audibly gasped before I realized that the currency was Won instead of Yen. For comparison, one thousand yen is ten dollars whereas, ten thousand won is 8 dollars. I ate this thick pork bone soup that was popular in the south along with the delicious side dishes called banchan.
The next day before I caught my bus I wondered the downtown area and found another restaurant. I ordered a soup and some dumplings. The soup was bright red with chunks of meat and vegetables. I realized after gulping down half the soup that it was so red not because it was seasoned with Kim chi but because it was deep and intensely spicy. The number one thing I missed in Japan was spicy food and while Japan was lacking the Koreans live for spicy food. I just wish I had been prepared because I started sweating so much that the lady who owned the shop was seriously concerned about me.
The timing of this trip was perfect because, as I sat on the ferry about to leave Japan, I realized I had started to feel at home in Tokyo. After feeling so sad and confused my first few weeks I wasn't sure I would come to love Tokyo. However, as the ferry zipped me across the Sea of Japan all I could think about was how I couldn't wait to return.
Busan is a city rich with history, art, and culture. I definitely need to come back and explore more of the city. But with only 24 hours between when the ferry dropped me off at the harbor and a bus would whisk me away to Seoul, I could really only explore the downtown business district.
The view from my bus to Seoul. Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss my adventures in Seoul and all my additions to the archive.