After spending five days in Japan, my friend and I took a ferry from Shimonoseki, Japan to a southern city of South Korea called Busan as we continued our trek through Southeast Asia.
We were excited for ride the ferry to South Korea
South Korea’s second largest city is like the Korean version of Miami with bright buildings along a beach. However, there is a difference between Busan and Miami. Busan not only has sea level terrain, but a mountain with an elevation of 2,630 feet above sea level. One day in Busan we were walking on a beach and the next day we were hiking up Mt. Geumjeong. The mountainous terrain is actually seen across the entire country. I was told that at least 70% of South Korea has mountainous terrain. I really liked how Busan has a laid back feel with the shore along along with a feel of mountain country.
Caleb and I stayed in a local hostel while in Busan and met other travelers with exciting itineraries. One young couple from France quit their jobs to spend 10 months traveling around the world. There was also an Italian guy, Gigi, that had been traveling for 4 months across Russia and taken a ferry from the eastern coast of Russia to South Korea. Caleb and I ended up joining Gigi in hiking over 2,000 feet in five hours up Mt. Geumjeong and had a great time talking with Gigi.
Finding food in South Korea became easier than Japan after we realized we could use the internet to find vegetarian friendly restaurants in the area. In Busan we found a vegan Korean buffet with unlimited sushi.
After two days in Busan, my friend and I took a train to Daejeon, the fifth largest city in South Korea, to meet up with a friend from Henderson State who lives there. Daejeon did not have the typical tourist attractions like Busan or Seoul which gave it an authentic taste of Korean living. My friend Scott, an aviation major at Henderson State, and his family were so gracious in offering a place for Caleb and I to stay for two nights. Scott showed us around the city and treated us to a delicious vegetarian Korean meal. While in Daejeon, I also met up with Martin who was introduced to me by a mutual friend. Martin has a PhD in Physics and is doing research at KAIST (Like the MIT of South Korea).
The capital city was our last stop in South Korea. We took an early bus from Daejeon to Seoul on Friday morning and arrived within an hour and 30 minutes. The famous Gangnam district was our first stop in Seoul. We were disappointed to not find Psy singing “Gangnam Style” in the streets. The area is a busy street with tall buildings. Nothing too exciting. After a quick glance of Gangnam, we headed to a flea market area in Seoul. I was surprised to find the amount of trinkets people were willing to sell. We walked through several other markets as well and ended the day early at an inexpensive hostel ($10/night) that had free breakfast. The following day I went to Sahmyook University for their international church service. To my surprise, I ended up meeting several people that I knew or had mutual friends. Small world! I spend my last evening in South Korea visiting the Seoul Tower which is on a hill in the middle of Seoul. The following day Caleb and I headed to the airport to catch a flight to China.