We had a relatively relaxing first day upon arriving at Busan, that is to grant ourselves some shopping and lots of food after an all nighter. But it is not like we have much time in Busan, we surely had to catch up with seeing more of Busan come the following day!
[Korea September/October 2014]
27 September 2014 – Day 2
Gamcheon Culture Village, Jagalchi Market, BIFF Square, Gukje Market and Gwangbok-ro Culture & Fashion Street
Looking back at this selfie we took while we were getting out of our apartment that morning, I realised how awesome we looked after the good night rest. Really all refreshed and ready to take on another day in Busan but first… let’s have breakfast!
It was only about 9:00am but a hearty breakfast is the way to go to kick off the long day ahead! We initially wanted one Dakgukbap 닭국밥 (Chicken Stew & Rice) and another Dwaejigukbap 돼지국밥 (Pork Stew & Rice) to share but there was a slight miscommunication and we ended up with two pork stews, one with pig innards and another with sundae 순대 (Blood sausages).
It was a really porky breakfast! And though the girls don’t quite fancy the innards and sundae, we agreed that the flavors of the stews were really robust and thick with a slight peppery taste that is really quite lip-smacking actually.
Anyway, the place is near our apartment during our stay in Busan and just a stone throw from Beomnaegol Station. Check map towards the end of this post for an illustration of the location! 🙂
Gamcheon Culture Village 감천문화마을
After breakfast, we travelled almost an hour out of town to get to our first stop for the day at Gamcheon Culture Village!
Gamcheon Culture Village has a nickname one too many. Some will call it the “Korea’s Santorini”, “Machu Picchu of Korea” or even “Lego Village”. You surely can see why is that so from the pictures above!
Anyway, behind the cheerful nicknames and colors of Gamcheon Culture Village now, the village has an equally colorful history that dates back to the days during the Korean war.
The village was originally known as Taegeukdo Village when a group of followers of Taegeukdo religion took refuge in this neighborhood of Busan during the Korean War. They were then joined by more from elsewhere in Korea in 1958 and the population in the small village grew to an astounding number of approximately 20,000 people. But since 1958, the villagers gradually moved out to other parts of Korea as the economy prospered after the war and the population dropped back down to about 10,000 people resulting in most of the homes left empty even up till today.
Today in Gamcheon Culture Village, you can find a community of its own along these colorful streets that is complete with various art galleries, museums and cafes serving up delicacies from both local and other cuisines. And of course, not forgetting the well preserved traces of the past!
Anyway, here’s some of the art installations and wall murals at the village!
This granny probably looked like she had lived through the Korean War times and one of those followers of the Taegeukdo religion that relocated here! And just the sight of her made me wished that I know the village well enough to go through the maze of houses and a good command of Korean language so that I can get to her and have a quick chat with her! Surely, it will be interesting to listen to some of her stories!
Anyway, you can easily grab a map of Gamcheon Culture Village at the tourist information booth near the entrance from Gamcheon Elementary School at ₩2,000 each. The map comes together with lots of information about the village, descriptions of the art installations, suggested routes and even a stamp page for you to collate stamps at each landmark you had seen just like what I was doing in one of the photos above!
Despite all that, I won’t say you should follow a certain route while you are at the village! You should be adventurous and be prepared to spend a substantial amount of time and walk down every street and lane you can!
Map of Gamcheon Culture Village and how to get there.
Click for an enlarged view!
Jagalchi Fish Market 자갈치시장
Following our very vibrant morning at Gamcheon Culture Village, we hopped over to one of the most happening and biggest seafood market in Korea, Jagalchi Fish Market!
The same bus that took us to Gamcheon Culture Village from Toseong Station actually can take you to Jagalchi Fish Market as well in the opposite direction. We weren’t quite sure about where we should be alighting and the helpful bus driver ushered us off the bus when the bus arrived at the right bus stop that is about a 5 minutes walk away from the market.
Anyway, you can already see traces of the local market along the way with hardware stores to sundries stores and even granny apparels! Hehe…
We arrived at the market through the outdoor section and it was not quite a nice welcome to the market with wiggly sea creatures every where and even live slaughtering happening in front of us!
But honestly, I am being a drama queen and over exaggerating here. It wasn’t all a horrifying experience after all. In fact, it was a really interesting and eye-opening experience walking through the market!
Unfortunately, we had been snacking around too much and we weren’t hungry enough to actually sit down for a proper meal and enjoy a seafood lunch at Jagalchi Fish Market! Such a pity we had to give those fresh catch a miss this time!
BIFF Square BIFF광장
And a stroll less than 5 minutes from Jagalchi Fish Market, literally just a stone throw away, we arrived at BIFF Square!
Before the very first Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in 1996, this district was probably a little more than a pair of cinemas built following Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule. Thereafter, major renovations took place and the square developed into a more complex area featuring not only movie theatres but also shops and other leisure facilities, making the square a popular place for both locals and tourists alike.
Today, BIFF Square is a 428 meter-long street stretching from Buyeong Theater in Nampo-dong to the overpass in Chungmu-dong and the area is divided into Star Street and Festival Street. On the eve of the International Film Festival each year, one of the major events at BIFF Square includes hand printing of famous movie celebrities like the one in the photo above. That is one that was done in year 2008! How cool!
Oh by the way, you can find lots of make shift stalls on Star Street offering local snacks!
Hotteok 호떡 is a common street food you can find in Korea. It is usually filled with a variety of fillings like corn or even salted caramel or spicy cheese but traditionally, these Korean pancakes are filled with cinnamon and peanut filling. And the ssiat hotteok 씨앗호떡, cooked on a griddle and filled with candied sunflower and pumpkin seeds, is an unique variant to the traditional Korean pancake that you can only find at BIFF Square in Busan.
It tastes pretty similar to the dough fritters we have locally, the butterfly to be more exact, just that it is more nutty.
Gukje Market humbly began during the Korean War in 1950 and today, it stands as the largest traditional market in Busan offering an assortment of new and used items. It is said that it is rather similar to Namdaemun Market in Seoul.
There were numerous alleys within the market itself and needless to say, our favorite is the food alley! Hehe! Yes, eating again though we weren’t exactly hungry at all! Anyway, the Gukje Market Food Alley might seem quite elaborate but the stalls offer common street dishes like japchae 잡채 and gimbap 김밥 and japchae 잡채 and gimbap 김밥 all over again.
On a side note, the street between Gukje Market and Yongdusan Park or Busan Tower and adjacent to Gwangbok-ro Culture & Fashion Street offers a relatively good spot for some cheap shopping too!
Gwangbok-ro Culture & Fashion Street 광복로문화패션거리
Just like how Gukje Market resembles Namdaemun Market in Seoul, you can really relate Gwangbok-ro Culture & Fashion street to Myeongdong! The street is decorated with beautiful plantings and punctuated with splendid lightings and sculptures and you can find shops lining either side of the street retailing everything from bargains to luxury items!
Spotted an outlet of the ice cream joint while we were shopping on Gwangbok-ro Culture & Fashion Street and got ourselves one to try! And honestly, it was just soft serve ice cream served with honey. Period. And aside from the fact that I probably only enjoyed the soft serve ice cream tasting so sinfully milky. (Read: I am a milk junkie!) I really don’t think there isn’t anything out of the world about it that should make it so highly raved these days!
Map of our afternoon walkabout from Jagalchi Market to BIFF Square then to Gukje Market and Gwangbok-ro Culture & Fashion Street as well! Click for an enlarged view!
To be honest with you, I don’t quite know if this place we had chicken and beer for dinner that evening is called Cool Cat or not and I merely got the idea from the name printed on the beer glasses in the photo! But I am trying to make a special mention here despite the uncertainty because this place serves home brewed beer at really affordable prices like ₩3,500 to ₩5,000 per pint! Guess this is a good place to drop by and have a drink or two if you are in the vicinity!
Map of the location of the places we had our breakfast and dinner at!
Click for an enlarged view!
And with that, we come to the end of our second day in Busan! If you are still with me at this point of my writeup, THANK YOU SO MUCH! It was quite a lengthy post covering a super long day with a hectic itinerary isn’t it? Hehe…
Anyway, more on Busan in the next upcoming writeup when I go solo and explore the western edge of Busan while my girls pamper themselves to a spa session! Stay tuned!
More posts from Korea September/ October 2014 travelogue series:
- Day 1 – Seomyeon Shopping District, Gwangalli Beach & Gwangan Bridge
- Day 2 – Gamcheon Culture Village, Jagalchi Market, BIFF Square, Gukje Market & Gwangbok-ro Fashion Street
- Day 3 – Shinsegae Centum City, Haedong Yonggungsa & Jong-ga Daebak Jib
- Day 4 – KTX Busan to Seoul & Myeongdong
- Day 5 – Gwangjang Market, Bukchon Hanok Village (Samcheong-dong) & Insa-dong
- Day 6 – Edae Shopping District
- Day 7 – Gangnam and Sinsa-dong Garosu-gil
- Day 8 – Ihwa Mural Village and Namdaemun
- Day 9 – Hongdae (Hongik University Street)
- Day 10 – Hangang Park
- Day 11 – Bupyeong (Incheon) and Cheonggyecheon (Seoul)
- Day 12 & 13 – Flashback and Goodbye Korea (for now)!