Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Research Centre for East Asian Studies Groningen Blogs and Postcards

Blog by Aleksandra Gierz: Step by Step

BUSAN: Week 2, the weekend
August 6, 2017 by stepbystep

Saturday and Sunday, indeed indeed, a perfect time to do some relaxation and visiting. If you’ve read through my other posts you might remember me mentioning that Saturdays here are devoted to another day of travel, whereas Sundays are lazy, lazy days of sleeping, eating and mental preparation for another 9am class the next day.

And so not that much surprise as to what this weekend has brought to me… Indeed! Saturday a day full of visiting with a really good friend of mine whom I met randomly at a language café in London and who, coincidentally, is originally from Busan.

We sat in her refreshingly air-conditioned car and we headed outside of the city. Towards the sea and the cliffs and another colourful and positively charged Buddhist temple. The sun was scorching on our heads and the water bottles almost melting in our hands, but step-by-step we climbed the cliff and the temple welcomed us with its outstanding beauty. What a place to pray with statues overlooking the sea and the sharp rocks. The older couples accompanied by their daughters and sons bravely tackled the hills and with devotion lay on their knees in front of Buddha, pouring their hearts onto the mat. Soft drum music playing among the trees from the inhabited area of the temple, not open to tourists. Just in time for the monks daily prayer.

Haedong Yonggungsa. The uniquely situated Buddha temple was first set up by a teacher during the Goryo Dynasty in 1300s, destroyed a few times over by the Japanese invasions, it was finally restored in peace of the post-Korean War times. Unusually facing the ocean, as most other temples overlook valleys from their mountains, it is a breath-taking complex of scattered statues, stone pagodas and sculptures. A tear-shedding peace and tranquillity.

With our souls and eyes fed on the sights and the atmosphere we returned to the craziness of the city. Nampo-dong was our destination for the evening. We parked our car at the immense Lotte Department store, which lets anyone park for free during the weekends and we headed to a massage café- Mr. Healing.

The atmosphere was salon-like with sun-reflecting tiles and the workers all dressed in black contrasting against their surrounding. We ordered our drink and were directed to a complete-silence room divided into compartments of two massage chairs each. The clever chairs measured your body the second you fell back into them and the cycle lasted about 25minutes. In completely silence, only with the sound of the relaxing weather music in the background, you were to completely switch off your mind and enjoy the massage.

As relaxed as I have been for the past month we returned to the main area to collect our coffees. Once we gained some of our orientation back we moved onto the Nampo-dong food market, where we tried numerous street food delicacies The famous pumpkin seed-filled hotteok (Korean sweet pancake) is an ultimate street food, all year round hit! It only costs about 1,500 won so there’s no excuse not to try it!

We followed on with a dinner at one of the Nampo-dong restaurants and then headed towards the Songjeong Beach where we ran into the cable cars experience. The queue was long and made us worried that we could miss the last tour. So to ensure we made it for the rest of the beautiful sunset we updated ourselves to a private carriage. We hurryingly, with our nerves and slight fear of heights purely visible on our faces, jumped onto one of the carriages. Breathe in… And enjoy the view.

The cable cars take you meters over the water. Leaving behind you is the city of Busan, overlooking right ahead a mountain of cliffs and, throughout the 15minutes long journey, you are running along the coast of the Songjeong beach on one side and the endless, black water on the other. We hit at bay on the other side of the water and some more of the view from the building’s rooftop, then we take the cable car to return to where we started off.

Step-by-step I return to the metro and fall into my dorm bed; the gates closing behind me as I walk through the door. I just made it for the curfew.

If you would like to hear more about my trip to South Korea, check out my summer blog at:

Last modified:14 February 2018 09.56 a.m.