Gamcheon Cultural Village

Known as the Macchu Picchu of Busan, Gamcheon Cultural Village is a popular tourist destination found in a small neighborhood of colorful houses and quaint little shops. I went there back in April and I highly recommend you go if you have the chance!

You can get there by taking the subway Line 1 to Toseong station, Exit 6. You can then either walk or take a small local bus up to the village- Saha 1-1, Seogu 2, or Seogu 2-2 to Gamcheon Elementary School Bus Stop. Walking takes maybe 20-30 minutes or so? It’s up a large hill so be prepared!

You’ll soon see the entrance to the village:

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You’ll then be greeted by a small street selling all sorts of things like refreshments, snacks, accessories, stationery, and more. Go up onto the roof area on the right to see the view!

When you’re done enjoying the view, go ahead and feel free to browse the many shops nearby! My friends and I found a little postcard shop where they sell various art of the village. You can also send a postcard to anyone in the world, and you can even decide what day you want to send it on! There are little cubbies with dates on them and you put your postcard in the cubby of the day you want to send it on. I wrote a postcard back home and decided to send it the next day.

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Some other things to see here include this colorful mural, steps painted with various literature (the variety show 1N2D was here!), and a figurine of the little prince overlooking Busan.

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photobombed by a little kid haha

When we left, we took a back road and enjoyed the green, terraced mountains.

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Overall, I’ve been to many places within Busan but Gamcheon Cultural Village is definitely a must! It’s not a place where you spend an entire day, but you can absolutely have fun here for a few hours!!!

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School Lunch in Korea

I thought it’d be super interesting to show you guys what a typical public middle school lunch in Korea looks like.

First off, almost all the teachers eat lunch provided by the school. I pay about 80,000-90,000 won total for one month. Pricey, but it’s easier than making your own. Also, lunch is served buffet style- but that doesn’t mean you can heap piles and piles of food onto your plate and go back for seconds (though that doesn’t stop some teachers). Sometimes there are little signs telling you how many pieces of each thing you can take. This is to ensure that everyone has access to everything. After everyone has taken their share, you are of course free to go for seconds.

School lunches are made by the lunch ladies, who often go in and out of the teacher’s eating area to make sure everyone has enough to eat.

Lunch usually has: rice, and of course, kimchi. There is always a type of soup or stew as well. The lunch will also typically have a type of protein, whether from seafood, pork, or chicken, and various side dishes. Sometimes they will serve Western style food, but it’s…not that tasty most of the time. If you’re lucky, there will be dessert such as juice, fruit, or sometimes a nice pastry.

So, enough explaining! Here are some pics I’ve taken over the year.

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Fried chicken, rice, radishes, garlic stems, budae jjigae

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RAMEN AND ONIGIRI with juice

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rice, beansprout soup, chicken, radishes, some fish thingy

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mystery meat, rice, egg, seaweed, tofu soup

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rice, SULLUNGTANG MY FAVORITE SOUP, a fried…incredibly difficult to eat thing, pineapple

Aaaaand, those are all the pics I have! Even though some lunches here have been….questionable, I can say that they’re at least tastier and healthier than American school lunches. What are your school lunches like?

Hydrangea Festival

I’ve been to so many flower festivals. I can’t help it. I love flowers, especially hydrangeas.

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What’s more, I love pressing flowers I collect. Especially since I lost my old collection.

Anyways, the Hydrangea Festival in Busan occurs every year around June. And it’s pretty popular from what I’ve seen.

My only complaint would be how long it takes to get there. After taking the subway to Busan Station, my friends and I tried taking a bus to Taejongdae. A whole bunch of different buses all head to the island where the Hydrangea Festival is located, but because of all the people going there, we watched as numerous buses packed to the brim skip the bus stop at Busan Station. When a bus does finally arrive with space to spare, people crowd and push until there’s no space left to breathe- but you made it onto the bus. But you’re sardined and surrounded by festival hopefuls and now you’re also stuck in, you guessed it, traffic. It takes over an hour to reach our destination. A ride that normally would take maybe 15-20 minutes.

People pour out of the bus and we did it! We’re finally at the Taejongdae area! But we also had to take another  bus, the Danubi bus (er…bus….train? bus-train?), to the actual Hydrangea Festival area within Taejongdae. We bought our tickets and waited another half hour. But eventually, our bus arrives and our numbers are called. The buses are super cute, having been adorned with hydrangea shaped decorations.

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One we reach the festival area, we branch out and- oh my goodness. Hydrangeas, EVERYWHERE. But also people taking selfies everywhere. Myself included. I should also mention that Busan summers are extremely hot and humid. It became rather foggy and super muggy as the day went by, so make sure to have some water with you.

There’s a trail that weaves between the bushes of hydrangeas. You just follow it to the end and when you’re done looking around, there are a bunch of snack stalls you can visit. To get back, take another Danubi bus. You had to pay to get on it the first time, but the return trip is free.

Overall, the festival itself was lovely. I picked a few flowers for my collection and took a lot of pictures. But i HIGHLY recommend going as early as you can to avoid the rush that my group unfortunately encountered. I should have known better, but eh, oh well.

Desk Warming

Fun. Joy. Ah, yes, the absolute wonder of having to come to school when no students are present and you have no further lessons to plan since you’re leaving Korea in a month.

As contract workers, EPIK teachers have to desk warm at least 1 week in both summer and winter. Most likely more since, you know, you have sooooo many important things to do sitting at your desk all day. During student vacation. You know, because it was soooo expensive for the school to hire a NET and they need to milk you of your use as much as they can. I’m just super bitter that I’m basically doing at my desk what I could have been doing at home: nothing.

I wake up at 7:50. That’s pushing it. I get to school by 8:30. Barely safe! Then I sit at my desk and zone out for an hour. Maybe read the news. Bad idea. News is rarely ever good these days. When it hits around 10:00, I get sleepy. Commence trying to sneak a nap in while looking like you’re actually doing something. Leave the screen on something like a book on my Kindle app on my laptop and I’m set.

It’s now 11:30. and I blearily open my eyes as the four other teachers stuck here with me start getting ready for lunch. I placidly observe them as I pull out my hastily made leftovers from last night. At noon, we all sit together and share what we eat. Did you bring a sandwich? How selfish of you to not bring something to share. Did you bring side dishes? Expect to share. It’s communal eating time. After lunch I make coffee, which takes all of one minute to make. I sit back at my desk and zone out again for an hour, but while listening to some non K-Pop music. The next few hours are the worst. I’m not sleepy and I have nothing to do. Time ticks by unceasingly slowly and I question whether they’d even notice if I left.

It’s now 1:30. Time is not moving. Nothing is real. The next three hours drag on and I consider watching videos but my desk is in the teacher’s office where they can see everything I do on my laptop and I have no choice but to pretend to work on something. Like writing this. Or reading from my Kindle. Because it’s so important.

It’s 4:25. I pack my things. Then I sit watching the hands of the clock. As soon as it hits 4:30, I bolt out of the office and into freedom.

And then I go home and watch videos and play games all night. Then, rinse and repeat for the entire week.

Deokcheon Area and Gupo Traditional Market!!!

I’ve had this post in my drafts since last March lol…

Oh, my goodness. I meant to write about my neighborhood a lot sooner. So, I live near Deokcheon station in Busan and it’s just about filled with anything you might need: a young life area with restaurants, clothing stores, and more, an underground shopping mall, and a traditional market.

I don’t really know what to call the young life area. I go there most of the time since the street has a plethora of restaurants, cafes, and dessert stores. It also has a food mart and clothing stores I like. There’s also an Artbox (my fav!!) which is a stationary store, and Daiso, which is like a dollar store. There’s even a cat cafe! But the highlight for me was the Sim Sim Doorim Cafe. It’s a comic book cafe!

You go in and pay for how many hours you want to stay- about 2000 won for the first hour. You take off your slippers and you can browse all sorts of comic books (all in Korean, of course). They even have Japanese manga, but in Korean. The store also has these little secluded reading areas that I adore. You can just go in and lie down and do whatever, so I usually came here to use the wifi in the quiet, secluded setting before I got internet in my apartment. You can also buy coffee, snacks, ice cream, or ramen!

Moving on, this young life area also has a mall: Newcore Mall. It’s not too small and has a good selection of clothes, though pricey in my opinion. It’s worth checking it out when they have sales. Next to the mall, however, is a used bookstore! MY FAVORITE. It’s called Aladdin Used Books. It’s rather easy to find except for the fact that the signs for the store are entirely in Korean. Here’s what it looks like from the outside:

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They have a wide selection of books in Korean, English, and even Japanese! I was surprised at how many English books there were, to be honest. I’d been to bigger bookstores in department stores and was disappointed when I found that they didn’t sell books in English. Aladdin Used Books is therefore a great, and even better, alternative. The books are relatively cheap and are in good condition. The inside is pretty quiet and has areas for people to sit down and read. You can sign up for a membership without using your ARC so it’s pretty handy!

Deokcheon also has an underground shopping area. It’s pretty large! One reason why I like it better than Seomyeon’s is because it’s linear. Seomyeon is very broad and has stores literally placed every which way, which makes it easy to get lost because it’s very confusing. Deokcheon is just a long, straight line with stores on either side- and that simplicity makes me like it more. It’s nowhere near as big as Seomyeon but it still has a wide collection of clothing items.

Last is the Gupo Traditional Market. I rely on this area for the majority of my groceries.  I go there multiple times a week but I still get lost whenever I go…because I suck at finding my way around lol. Anyways, as soon as you enter the area there are some ajummas selling seafood in the middle of the street. If you go past them and down the stairs, you reach the seafood/fresh market area. They sell almost everything here. Fish, octopus, vegetables, rice, traditional crackers, meat- just name anything Korean and you’ll find it here. I have to make sure I go there on a full stomach because otherwise I’m just tempted to buy everything! The people here are generally friendly and often give me extra when I buy from them. I honestly prefer buying from the traditional market so I can help support local farmers and businesses. Plus, the ingredients feel more…fresh?

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Overall, my area has anything I’d need within arm’s reach. Although my apartment is small, I’m thankful that everything else is so close. The location is also good because I’m near lines 2 and 3 and can get to most areas of Busan fairly easily. It’s been a wonderful experience wandering around and I will admittedly miss it when I leave.

Canola Flower Festival

I’m currently desk warming and have nothing to do, so why not update this with my past adventures? Back in April, I went to a flower festival near where I live- the Canola Flower Festival (also known as the rapeflower).

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Located near Gangseo-gu subway station, which is two stops away from me, the Canola flower field can be seen from far away for a rather breathtaking view. A yellow field filled with flowers- and people- draws many people per year. Upon getting off the subway, I was surprised by just how many people there were. It was so crowded I almost felt like going back home!! The field is pretty easy to find if you just follow the massive crowd of Koreans along the streets filled with food vendors. They sell everything from corndogs to boiled silkworm cocoons (which I loved and craved as a child but abhor as an adult). I would have taken a picture of the silkworms but the smell made me feel nauseated….so no. One pleasant surprise, for me at least, was that the vendors were also selling flower crowns! I wanted one but I was too embarrassed to get one. I liked seeing people wearing them, even the men!

Once arriving at the field, I found my friends and we looked around the vendors under the Gupo bridge for a while. I discovered another kebab vendor, which sold lamb this time, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. We took some pictures in the field and people watched for a bit. I made sure to pick some flowers to add to my pressed flower collection (which I no longer have bc I’m stupid and lost all my flowers).  The flowers also smelled really nice! But, the pollen was getting everywhere- my friend’s leggings were covered in a light, yellow layer. Overall, the view was amazing….too bad I forgot my selfie stick this time around though 😛

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Around 3 PM it became so crowded I felt a little overwhelmed. We decided to call it a day and I went back home after that.

So, if you’re ever in Busan in the springtime, definitely go check this festival out! I do recommend going early though, like around noon, to avoid the rush people swarming to see the flowers.