You wake up tomorrow morning to find all your plans have been cancelled for the next seven days and $10,000 on your dresser. Tell us about your week.
Being that I’m experiencing a bout of wanderlust right now, you don’t even know how much this scenario excites me! First off, I’d book a flight somewhere, anywhere, but here. Here are a few considerations:
- Distance – It has to be close enough that the commute won’t eat into my seven precious days of freedom, but far enough that it’s culturally different from Hawaiʻi and the United States.
- Affordability – Duh.
- Exploring – Whether it’s going to historical sites or enjoying the natural environment, the location should have a variety of locales to enjoy.
I enjoy visiting “second cities”, like Hilo is to Honolulu. Second cities have all the modern conveniences, but possess a certain intimate charm.
That being said, I’d head to Busan, South Korea. Busan is not as sprawling as Seoul, so it’s small enough to be able to feel familiar after a couple of days, yet I would be able to spend the rest of the time leisurely getting more acquainted with the whole of the city. I already have my very loose itinerary of things to do when I eventually get there.
Busan is known for its seafood and I would love to indulge in its regional cuisine. Jagalchi Fish Market looks like a really neat place to visit. Being from Hawaiʻi, I’m knowledgeable enough about seafood, so seeing the different types of seafood of the area would be really fascinating. I’ve also wanted to try eating live octopus and being that the seafood is super fresh there, I’d take the plunge and be open to trying other seafood like minke whale and other exotic seafoods.
Busan is known for its beaches and it would be lovely to stand for a few moments on those sands to appreciate how different, yet beautiful the waters of the East Sea are, in relation to Hawaiʻi’s beaches. I probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time lying out, but I would definitely visit Haeundae, to feed prawn crackers to the seagulls.
One absolute must-stop would be Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. I’ve seen breathtaking pictures of this temple, nestled within a cliff while waves crash along the rocks below. After not being able to hike Mt. Halla in Jeju, I’d also want to hike the courses of Geumjeongsan Mountain.
I’m not much of a shopper, but I’d likely visit including Nampo-dong and Gukje Market. The only reason I’d go to Shinsegae Centum City, other than to experience the massiveness of it, is to hit up Spa Land. The experience looks awesome and I think it would live up to my high expectations for a spa experience. After watching too many Korean dramas of people hanging out in the spa, while eating boiled eggs and drinking sikhye (rice drink), it’s an experience I’d enjoy.
The aforementioned locations and activities won’t take up the full seven days, but I’d be more interested in spending most of my time strolling along the Busan streets, admiring Gwangalli Bridge lit up at night, visiting shops and vendors as they sell their wares, ducking into random coffee houses to enjoy cups of tea and coffee, all while settling deeper into the pace of the city.
Like it would be for other cities where I’ve visited for longer than 3 days, I would be sad when it’s time to leave. Even if I never return, I’d look back fondly upon Busan and chalk up the experience as one of the few love affairs I’ve had with cities that I’ll never forget.