Saturday, August 29, 2015

From Busan to Seoul: N Seoul Tower and Myeongdong

After trying to catch the sunrise at Haeundae Beach (which was a failure because it was too cloudy/misty that morning), I had breakfast at the hostel and then left Busan to take off for Seoul.

From Haeundae Station, I took the subway to Busan Station. Now that I think about it, it probably would have been better if I took a bus instead because I was carrying a huge backpack! Then again, I was trying to catch a train schedule to Seoul and I had no idea how long the bus ride would be. On the other hand, the subway was more reliable time-wise. 

Eventually, I learned that Busan Station (where the KTX trains are) is different from the Busan subway station and I had to exit from the subway station first. The signs were very clear so I didn't lose my way. I bought my KTX ticket at Busan Station and then off to Seoul! The 2.5-hour train ride was quite expensive at KRW54,400 but I really like trains and I wanted to experience Korea's high-speed rail so I still opted for it.

I arrived at a very crowded Seoul Station and took the subway to my hostel. After resting a bit, I went to N Seoul Tower.

I took the subway to Myeongdong. From there, I walked very steep streets towards the cable car station. I found myself cursing because the streets are seriously impossibly steep that I was scared of losing balance and rolling down. Anyway, I got a bit lost going to the cable car station and was already in Namsan Park until a lady (who, thankfully, spoke a little English) asked me to take her photo so I took the chance and asked her where the cable car station  was. Thankfully, I didn't get too far lol.

I found the station easily after that and then bought my round-trip ticket for KRW8,500. Fortunately, the line wasn't very long.

I arrived at the base of tower, explored the grounds and then bought my admission ticket. Originally it's KRW9,000 but I had a coupon from my T-Money card so I got it instead for KRW8,100.

Ah, my first autumn experience!

Beacons from the Joseon dynasty

There was a shop that sold souvenirs (including postcards) and stamps plus a postbox at the top of N Seoul Tower so I bought some postcards and mailed them to some friends. Unlike, say, Tokyo Tower, I didn't appreciate N Seoul Tower very much. In Tokyo, I was quite familiar with the surroundings so I can easily identify the places from above. Meanwhile, it was my first day in Seoul so I had minimal appreciation of the view. There wasn't much to do in N Seoul Tower but I decided to stay until dusk just to see how it's like at night.

Finally, when it was dark, I headed back to the cable car. When I arrived at the cable car station in Myeongdong, it was dark and I couldn't identify where I was. I had no idea how to get back to Myeongdong subway station! In the end, I did the most logical thing to do-- I followed the crowd. Eventually, I found my way back to Myeongdong Station. I guess that way was better because I don't think I could have handled going down the same slope I passed by that afternoon lol.

I was able to stroll  around Myeongdong, a famous shopping area. The street food looked delicious so I sampled some and got too full to eat proper dinner. 

See that KitchenAid Artisan electric mixer?? Quite fancy for street food, right? Lol.

An egg pastry for KRW2,000

Sausages for KRW3,000 a stick

I had a peach shake for KRW5,000. Quite expensive, no?

I also got myself a nice knitted pullover (KRW15,000) from a boutique and a cute little backpack (KRW15,000) from a street vendor and some nail polish. However, when the Friday night crowd started to get to me, I finally decided to go back to my hostel.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Urban Busan

After a morning in Beomeosa, I took off to Kyungsung-Pukyong Station for lunch and some shopping. It's a station which serves two universities (Kyungsung University and Pukyong National University) so needless to say, the place is filled with students and businesses catering to students. There were lots of restaurants, bars, and shops for clothes and makeup.

I had a kimchi fried rice (KRW4,500) for lunch. One of my problems in South Korea is that the servings are really huge! I never seem to be able to finish my food there. :( Good thing I was able to finish this one lol.

Afterwards, I walked around and saw this store selling macaron ice cream. Autumn was starting but that day, it was quite hot and humid so ice cream was more than welcome inside my tummy.

I had green tea macaron with yogurt ice cream for KRW3,500
I actually went around some of the shops but didn't find much that I liked. I did, however, went to a SkinFood shop and got a BB cream, which, unfortunately, I lost the next day. Darnit!! I must have left it at the hostel dresser when I used it the following day.

Anyway, when I got sick of the crowds in Kyungsung-Pukyong, I walked back to the subway station and then went to Gwangan Beach and took a walk.

When I got tired, I looked for a coffee shop where I could sit down for a view but I noticed that most coffee shops were full so, instead, I found a cafe that sells patbingsu!

Patbingsu is a famous dessert in Korea. It's like a Korean version of the Philippines' halo-halo or Japan's kakigori. This one I got contained sweetened red beans (anko), shaved almonds, mochi, and soybean powder (kinako). I was also given a shotglass of condensed milk.

Bought a patbingsu for KRW6,000

Unfortunately, the serving was seriously big. Actually, I think this is good enough for two persons (You see, I was given two spoons.) so, again, I couldn't finish my food. Sigh.

At dusk, I went for another walk.

When I got tired again, I just sat at a spot where Gwangan Bridge was almost perpendicular to my sight and snapped photos while observing people (mostly taking selfies and mostly with selfie sticks lol).

The morning was quite hot and humid but at dusk, it was very windy so I felt chilly.

After photographing this, I got up and walked back to the subway station to go back to my hostel.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Beomeosa Temple in Busan, South Korea

I realized that I haven't finished documenting my trip to South Korea last October! That's why starting today, I will be posting more about that trip.

I woke up a bit early while most people at the hostel were still asleep. Back in October, I was still used to waking up at 4am lol. After eating breakfast at the hostel, I walked to Haeundae Station and took the subway to Beomeosa Station. I walked a bit and then arrived at the bus stop where I took Bus #90. 

The bus was quite crowded (although not as crowded at MRT or LRT lol) and even though the signs inside the bus were in Korean, it wasn't difficult to know where I was supposed to go down because everyone inside the bus seemed to be going to the same place.

I went down at Beomeosa, took a map and then went for a leisurely walk around. There were many people-- elderly locals, tourists, and local teens who seemed like they're having a school trip. However, the temple complex is very big so it didn't feel crowded at all.

There were lots of slopes and stairs but I'm happy to say that I managed. Because it's not as crowded as other temples, the environment was rather relaxing.

Because it's situated in the mountains, Beomeosa temple offered a lot of beautiful views.

Beomeosa also offers temple stay programs. It would have been a great experience but, unfortunately, my time in South Korea was pretty limited.

To be honest, Beomeosa was just another temple in South Korea. The good thing about it, however, is the peaceful environment. I had been staying in Haeundae and it was quite noisy for me, to be honest. Given a choice between a temple or a polluted street in the city, I'd still probably choose the temple.

At noon, when I started to get hungry, I went back to the bus stop, took the same bus back to the subway station and then went to Kyungsung-Pukyong Station for lunch.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Watercolor Notes

A very important lesson in kendo, which can be applied to everyday life.

Note to self: be patient

The first three lines of John Keats's poem, Endymion

Saturday morning: I kept my laptop away and dedicated my desk to painting.

Intense kendo training sessions during the past two Thursdays resulted to bruises, cramps, and intense muscle pain oww.

I should reboot my watercolor diaries.