On my last morning in Jeonju, I needed to figure out a gift for the Tosarang Guesthouse owner. After all, he had shown such kindness throughout my stay, paid for my first meal in town and the taxi rides, and went out of his way to show me around.
While I could’ve just given him a huge tip, for one, tipping isn’t expected, and two, cash is just not thoughtful.
So I walked down the street and came across a plant shop. I chose a small potted plant that he could use to decorate the guesthouse somewhere. I chose the picnic table. He moved it elsewhere.
We sat down at the table to plan my bus departure (I’m telling you, if you ever visit Jeonju, choose Tosarang Guesthouse). Although I had assumed I could take the KTX, upon closer look at the rail map, I realized there was no direct line to Busan, which meant I had to take the three-hour bus ride instead.
I got an aisle seat and didn’t have the urge to be obnoxious enough to lean over to take pictures of the beautiful views (an experience I will share about my Guilin trip), especially as we got closer to the heart of Busan, but the three hours passed by very quickly thanks to the beautiful landscapes—and my handy podcast downloads. Note: There are two bus terminals in Jeonju, depending on where you prefer to arrive in Busan. Either way requires quite a long ride on the metro to downtown.
While on the metro, I couldn’t help but notice how colorfully dressed the mostly elderly passengers were. They all wore mismatched patterns and colors to the point where you as a foreigner couldn’t not notice. It was everyone. I was shocked. I even took a picture.
By the time I arrived at the YTT Boutique Hotel, I was pretty tired and hungry. It didn’t help that it was starting to rain.
Luckily, this hotel is located in the heart of food and shopping. What else could I need?
I started my trek through the maze of open markets and stores, as the sky slowly started opening up. Failing to find a reliable spot for bibimbap, I dipped into a small shop for what ended up being delicious cold noodles. This was amazing. I typically prefer rice over noodles, but this dish…man, it had me wanting such heaven for every meal. These noodles were almost chewy, not like the cheap, salty, and thin ramen noodles. These come over a pile of ice, which you help melt with the cup of soup. For under $5 USD, I was so happy to have found such an amazing deal amid not-so-amazing weather greeting me.
The next few hours were then spent wandering in and out of fish markets, food markets, and even a cool book street.
At the BIFF Square with all the street food stands and endless restaurants, I got to try the famous Busan hotteok, which is a nutty, sugary pancake that is simply divine. It was hilarious watching the foreigner in front of me order one, then after taking a bite (“Wow, that’s amazing”), quickly ordered another.
As the sun set, I made my way to the Lotte Department Store. And wow. Everything about Lotte in Korea is fascinating. With the huge food court, shops on shops on shops, the supermarket, and—in Busan—a rooftop with some of the best views of the city, I would never leave if I could.
After walking through the thrilling, bustling food court and making note of places to try the next day, I sat down on a bench to watch the fountain show. Tourists from an Australian cruise were lingering around for the show to start. Two sat next to me, and after overhearing their struggles to connect to WiFi, I tried helping and ended up chatting with them about their cruise. Turned out they didn’t get much time in Busan and have been shuffling from one destination to another, even stopping by Japan.
Finally, I made my way up to the rooftop on the 12th floor—which doesn’t sound that high but think about a mall having that many floors. Believe me, the building is ginormous. And given the chilly and windy weather, not many people were up there, so I had a blast enjoying the amazing views mostly to myself—and of course taking selfies 😛 I guessed that the Australians didn’t get enough time to check out the rooftop. I wondered if they were even told about it, given their limited time.
It was easy to immediately fall in love with the city. I could see why so many South Koreans go here for vacation.
Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to keep exploring this beautiful city.
Next up: Trekking to the famous Haeundae Beach and stripping down at Spa Land!