Early Saturday morning, the fiancee and I set of for Japan. We were pretty excited since it was our first trip to Japan and also the first time traveling by ferry. I already knew a few days back that a typhoon was on its way to Japan heading towards Kyushu but I still hoped that it sailing conditions were still ideal. Our ferry set sail at 0745 to Fukuoka and after a long painful three hour seasick ride (due to the typhoon approaching) we arrived at Fukuoka. After exiting immigration, we took the bus to our hotel which was around a 10 minute walk away from Hakata Station and dropped off our stuff. The first place we visited was Sumiyoshi-jinja (住吉神社). We spend quite a bit of time admiring the architecture and observing a Japanese wedding take place. From there on, we headed towards Hakata station and set off to Tenjin for some street photography and shopping. While our stay in Japan was short, the finacee and I agreed that we had a pretty good time and we're definitely going to go back and visit again in the near future.
On our second day in Busan, the fiancee and I decided to visit the Gamcheon Cultural Village. We took the taxi nstead of taking the subway to Jalgachi Station and taking the local bus due to the fact that our feet were a bit sore from walking all day yesterday. The fare costed 5800 won (we got on near our hotel near Jungang Station) which wasn't too bad for 2 people. The time it took by taxi was around 15 minutes and the taxi driver was nice enough to drop us off at very top of the hill. From there we made our way into the area. There were two routes suggested by the map; one which was was mostly along the upper half of the village and the other one which went through the lower half. Wanting to see the panoramic view, we took the first route. Aside from the unique architecture in the area, there were also many art installations, including one where "le petite prince" was sitting alongside the road. Being tourists, we lined up and took our photo when it was our turn. The whole area took around an hour to explore and once we reached the bottom of the village, we took a taxi back and got off at Jalgachi station. From there on, we continued exploring Gukje market and then went back to the hotel to pack up for our upcoming trip to Fukuoka, Japan.
At the beginning of the school year, I was informed that I had a four day long weekend in the second week of October. Since the fiancee and I have never been to Japan, we decided to go to Busan first and then take the ferry across the Tsushima strait and visit Fukuoko, Japan. We took the night train from Cheonan station on Wednesday night and arrived in Busan on Thursday at 0430. After checking in our hotel and resting for a bit, The fiancee and I went out to meet up with a friend from university and went out to explore Nampo district, and Gukje market. After a bit of shopping, we walked up Yongdusan and found out that we arrived in time first day of the Jalgachi Market festival. The parade started from the top of Yongdusan and slowly made its way down to Jalgachi market. We then slowly made our way back to the Lotte Deparment store and went up to the rooftop to see the Busan cityscape. What we didn't expect to see was the fireworks that were set off in the inner harbour. It was a shame that I didn't have my tripod to take photos of the fireworks, however we probably had one of the best seats in town to view the show. Once the fireworks ended, we went back to Nampo and had some really delicious pork hocks for dinner.
The first time I visited Gunsan was during a staff trip where we rented a boat and went to Seonyu Island and got really drunk (that's a story for another time). However, I recently gained interest in Gunsan when the cast from 1박2일 (2 days 1 night) did an episode there exploring the food, the Gunsan Islands as well as its colonial past. What really struck me when I watched that episode was that unlike Seoul, which has been tearing down colonial buildings built during the Japanese occupation, the city of Gunsan has not only preserved their Japanese era buildings but is also continuing to repair worn down Japanese style houses into their original appearance and turning them into cultural assets, reminding not only its citizens about how the city looked like under Japanese rule, but also to remind the Korean people the struggled they had to endure to fight for their independence. After a bit of researching, the fiancee and I took the 11:35 bus from Taean and 2 hours and 30 minutes later, we arrived in Gunsan. We were also lucky enough to be there in time for the "Time Travel Festival" which the city holds every year around the first weekend of October. The "Time Travel Festival" gives visitors a chance to experience the modern era of when the city was under Japanese occupation. A lot of the relics where on display including a mock up of what a Korean classroom looked like back in the day along with what toys were popular then etc. Most of the colonial era buildings are located in Wolmyeong-dong (월명동) located 1.8km north east of Gunsan bus terminal and are all located within a 30 minute walking radius. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to visit all of the historical sites since we our bus back to Taean was at 19:20. If you like to go somewhere for a day, do visit Gunsan. It's a lovely coastal city that not only has a rich history, but is also brave enough to embrace it. For more information about the historical buildings, please visit the city website here for the buildings and here for the festivals.
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