Busan Day 1 - Metro, Kyungsung University, Seomyeon, Lotte, Centum City, Spa Land Shinsegae

I've been thinking about how I travel lately, particularly what I love to do first after I've arrived in a city that I haven't been to before. I've been able to sum it up into five general activities - getting lost (or what I call finding my way), walking far (or finding an easier route afterwards), looking for transport (or trying out the subway or bus), eating local food (by imitation or pointing) and scouting the area. I am generally more patient with the getting lost part on the first to second day and I consider it an inevitable part of the journey. With this in mind, let me tell you all about my first day in Busan, Korea. You might just see all of the above hahaha. Don't worry, I love going ahead and experiencing all these so that when you go and I go back, both of us are informed and we all know better.

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10: 50 a.m. - Busan Subway, Centum City Station (Green Line)

We took our time during breakfast asking our host about Busan and picking one route that is near subway station stops. Min was generous enough to show us where and how far the subway station was from our homestay apartment. I wore comfortable shoes because for sure, when you're in Korea, there's gonna be a lot of walking. The nearest subway to the Millak-dong Prugio Apartments where we were staying was Centum City Exit 11 (make sure you know the exit where you entered always). 

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We stopped by the bank to exchange some US$ notes to won (bring passport for this and do on weekdays, if you arrive on a weekend bring some local currency or change a little first at the airport). Make sure to bring 1000-won bills as well or 500 and 100 coins for the subway single-journey and unlimited pass tickets. We had to look for the information booth for change with what we had. Don't be too quick to purchase unlimited tickets also. Compute first if you will take the subway many times, here it's around 4x break-even for unli 1-day tickets.

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Afternoon
11:25 a.m. Kyungsung University, Pukyong National University Station (Green Line)

Our first stop was Kyungsung University. Follow our thought - it might be cheaper and more local for lunch haha. I always like going to University areas so I was game. I guess I had a very good experience in my Seoul Universities tour with Emily.

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One downside is that we didn't know the language and the people seemed to be avoiding us when we start speaking in English in a not-so-touristy area like this. I really have got to learn more Korean before I come back again. Pointing and sign language works when the food is universally recognized such as this tuna, egg and ham toast.

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We went into a restaurant that's full of students. Again, follow our thought - more people, must be good. Someone from our group managed to say hi to one who luckily can speak a bit English. She left us with a table and ordered for us in Korean - anything basta a meal good enough for us (5 people).

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So I'm sorry I'm not sure what I ate haha. The two dishes tasted alike (pork on far left, chicken on far right, very Korean taste, spicy, maybe gojuchang-based). The one in the middle was better (thin strips of pork).

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This one was supposed to be Doenjang-jjigae, the bean paste soup that comes free but it tasted a bit more like Jjampong with a spicy seafood flavor. This one I love eating with a spoonful of rice.

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This is a close-up - a typical food for one there although I have really tasted better in Korea haha. After we ate these, we crossed the street (going downhill - Outback side, not uphill towards the schools like this one) to burn the food we ate and found the more interesting meals and restaurants there! Hay haha. We still had time to go back here in the next three days anyway.

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1:45 p.m. Seomyeon Station, Lotte Department Store (Green Line)

If you look at the Busan Metro Line Map, we opted to stay in the same subway line. I had an agenda when I learned we were going to Seomyeon - I wanted to find the rooftop tip that I saw online and see the whole of Busan. I have heard of the underground malls in Busan and we came out in the middle of a long stretch with one way pointing to the Lotte Department Store and the other I will find out on another day.  

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I've been saying I don't understand why we kept on stopping at stores that we already have here in the Philippines. But hey, I made a stopover at Etude House and bought some "pabilin" from friends. There's a very big Uniqlo at the end by the way.

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I was itching to find my way to the top so I went ahead and actually got sidetracked inside the Lotte Department Store grocery and food court. I saw tteokbokki at a steep 4000 won per serving and I still ordered it haha. I've tasted better but eating definitely suits me than shopping. 

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On our way to the top, we stopped over the Gadgets floor and found this virtual reality thing-a-ma-jig before taking the escalator to the top. The "rooftop" turned out to be inaccessible and I was also super distraught to find out that I had just lost (here) my beloved card strap dangling in my neck and, along with it, the Seoul City metro card that I had bought during my first ever trip to Korea.

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We went to the Dongeui University Station (Green Line, 1200 won) because they were looking for some electronics and some fellow from a gadget store suggested it. That plan failed and we ended up going to Home Plus (a big chain supermarket). I'm not sure where this (below) was but it looks like a local market. Obviously, I was just walking ahead and following the group, still a bit distraught. We found a Metro station exit shortly after.

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Evening
7: 53 p.m. Centum City Stop (Green Line, 1200 won)

If you notice, the travel time back to the Shinsaegae Centumcity by Metro took almost an hour. We were super hungry so we checked out the Food Hall inside this largest department store in the world (Guinness, June 2009)! Shinsaegae Centumcity has a spa, ice rink, golf range, bookstore, gallery, cinema, tax refund service and lockers.

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The gadgets above are for our food. They beep when your orders are ready. The servings are huge and the taste is just so-so for me.

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For lack of brain cells and my growling tummy, I decided to order something Chinese - slash Korean (this is something you'll find in Chinese restaurants in Korea). Jjajangmyun (Black Noodles), Jjampong (Seafood Soup)

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and Sweet and Sour Pork Korean-style. The Food Hall at B1 closes at 10 p.m. and the Department Store at 8 p.m. (weekdays, 9 p.m. weekends). One tip for drinks is to buy it from the Supermarket on the same floor.

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8:45 p.m. Spa Land in Centumcity 1F - 3F (opens 6 a.m. to 12 a.m., 13 years old above, there's a door outside)

We were really after the lowered rates for Spa Land inside the mall. After 8 p.m. and before 9 a.m., you only pay 7000 won (weekdays, 9000 won weekends/holidays) for 4 hours. Normal rates are at weekdays 12000 won (adults) and weekends 14000 won (adult). I'm not sure if this is strictly observed but people with tattoos (I saw one), skin diseases, drunk or are sick are not allowed. There are extra restrictions for the high-temperature bathtub or sauna - people with systolic blood pressure, cataract or face flushing, senior citizens, pregnant, high fever or severe heart disease. 

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I've always wanted to go into a jjimjilbang - a Korean-type of sauna but I wanted to take it slow. Somewhere where there's English first so that I can go on my own, somewhere well-maintained where people pay a premium to get in for crowd control and somewhere which will not come as a shock and where I have the option to take off my clothes or not in front of all those people. Spa Land at the Shinsaegae Centumcity happened to have 22 bathtubs, 13 jjimjilbangs and an open-air foot spa. You will be given a shoe locker first, then you get your key to the locker rooms, 2 towels, spa shirt and shorts.

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OMG! Haha. I'm sorry I chose not to take my camera with me out the common rooms and just enjoy the moment or shall I say, momentS. My favorites include the Hard Wood Charcoal Room (felt like you're in an igloo made of mud), the Bali Room (lots of open air and TV!), the Body Sound Room (green all around), the Himalayan Salt Room (super cool! imagine being surrounded by blocks of pink Himalayan salt!) and the hot spring baths (oh boy! it's not so hard pala not to stare hahaha). The saunas and bathtubs can get very hot and very cold. 2 hours was actually enough if you're not watching a movie or something. Just ignore the other high tech rooms on the top floor with the elevator and extra charges haha. We missed the body-scrubbing ladies (didn't see them maybe there's none here, I think you can hire them to scrub you). Don't forget to bring an empty water bottle, a scrubbing towel, shampoo and soap if you don't want to share.

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11:20 p.m. We walked the whole way back (~30 minutes) to our homestay apartment in Busan. All that walking balanced everything we ate.

It's a good thing the spa experience came last to balance out all the negative vibes I got from losing something that really meant a lot to me. It was my first time to lose a valuable travel memento but then again this was also my first time to let go of my inhibitions and just relaxed at the hot spring pools. During the walk, I got into thinking that I will definitely go back to Seoul and get another of the same memento (N Seoul Tower store) then travel around the world with it again hahaha.

What a day!

I'm curious. I'd love to hear from you below: How do you spend your first day in an unknown country or city? Did you ever lose something during any of your trips? Where and what happened next?

Busan Day 1 - Metro, Kyungsung University, Seomyeon, Lotte, Centum City, Spa Land Shinsaegae

Busan Day 2 - Busan City Tour, Seafood and Seaside! How to Find the Taejongdae Clam Tents, Jagalchi Market, Korean Sashimi and Busan Beaches!

27 comments:

  1. I went to South Korea last 2010. This was my bday treat to myself. What I did first when I arrive, is to get all brochures for the tourist spots and planned my whole 2 weeks at the airport. After that I went to my hotel and started coordinating with the hotel staff on how to get to the places I decided to go. I do left behind my samsung headset, and it was terrible because some of my trips a long, sad because I cant listen to my playlist. I lost it on the 2nd day of my trip and I was there for 2 weeks.

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  2. When i'm an unknown place, I usually explore the WHOLE place where I am staying. I like to familiarized myself so that I will not get lost hihi.. as far as i remember, ive never experienced losing anything in my trips :)

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  3. How do you spend your first day in an unknown country or city? i spend my first day together with my family it is happy but a little worrying :)

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  4. First, I do research in the internet about every interesting landmarks in that area. I also plot a map if traveling without an itinerary to make the most of my time there. I usually have a checklist and inspect my things before leaving so I don't yet experience any lost belongings at my trips.

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  5. Whenever we go on trips to unknown cities, or cities that we just visited for the first time, we look around for a hotel that is located in what seems to be a safe place. Luckily i havent lost anything yet during any of our trips, i lost more stuff just going to the mall and forgetting my phone at some places. :)

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  6. 1. I spend my first day in an unknown country or city by looking for a place to eat, where food is something I've never tasted before.
    2. No, I haven't lost anything during any of my trips because I am a certified OC. ;)

    Thank you!

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  7. If I arrived in an unknown country or city, I would try to walk around the area of our hotel is the time permits (sometimes arrival time is at night) and see what can I explore there first and if there a nearby mall or 7-11 sort of shop, I would go in and see what products do they sell and sometimes buy a little snack for tv viewing at nite. So far, I haven't miss a thing yet on my trips (thank goodness).

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  8. My first ever country I visited is HK last 2010, we spend our half of the day sleeping, yes sleeping! Lol Then after that just roaming around the city. When were still at the airport my mom almost lost my bag, coz she left it on the baggage area. My mom is kinda absent minded when were traveling maybe she's just too excited :)

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  9. Wow. what a great trip.
    unfortunately, i haven't been in any other country. But i also want to have a Country-hopping maybe one day :D
    i can't imagine yet how would I be, when traveling in a country i do not know. haha. It's a little scary to get lost, or maybe the first time will always be the worst but the happiest also : )

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  10. sa davao lang ako napunta ng malayo.medyo nakakatakot kasi kala ko my mga aswang dun pero la naman kahit lang kuryente k lang naman pala.wala naman ako gamit na nawala, ako ang nawala o naligaw hehehe.nahanap ko bahay ng mga lolo ko dahil my tumulong na mabait na tao una nga natakot ako kala ko dwende hehehe.funny karanasan lang ;)

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  11. if i'm in a new city or country on the first day I usually taste their foods.. :) I love foods :)Luckily, i don't lose anything during a vacation.

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  12. My first ever country visit was Thailand. We spend the WHOLE day walking and sight-seeing. No, we are very fortunate that we didn't lose anything while on tour. :)

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  13. I've always wanted to visit Korea. My first ever out of country visit was in Hong Kong and what we did first was go to the country's busiest and bustling downtown area for some shopping! Then we headed to the lower part of China, Shenzen, where I was again, busy shopping for really cheap finds and lost my wallet (with money inside!). As in super heartbreaking, pero I got over it in a while kasi I saw a few celebrities there! Hehehe.

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  14. I love korea my bestfriend lives in there. I miss her so much. kung may magic lang para makapunta dyan siguro gagawin ko para makita ko yung pinag mamalaki nya sakin sa chat. :) Love din yung korean food yum yum

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  15. If I had to spend a day in an unknown city,first of course, I let my love ones know where I am (you know, just in case) and I will try to research ahead of time about the city and try my very best not to look TOO MUCH LIKE A TOURIST(for safety purposes):) And whenever possible, I'll enjoy every minute of it and seize the day:)

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  16. Wow..this is what i like about guiltless getaways. feeling ko kasi nakapunta na rin ako by reading your post.

    Di pa ako nakapunta sa ibang bansa, pero sana in God's will one day soon makavisit na rin ako.

    Nawalan ng gamit? di pa naman.

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  17. The very first thing I do is wander around the areas near the hotel, talk to some approachable strangers to ask anything about the place especially that I want to know the famous places to drop by, and go to some travel agencies to look for package tours or to simply get a free map of the place. hehe

    So far, as long as I can remember, I never did lost a thing. I'm quite OC when it come to handling them. =)

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  18. Way back 1995, I spent my first day in Western Australia looking for a place to eat. My plan is syempre mamasyal kaagad. I arrived there on a holiday at ganun pala doon. Sarado ang mga malls at karamihan ng mga restaurants hindi gaya sa atin na lalong bukas pag bakasyon. Gutom na gutom ako and I was lucky na makakita ng McDo. Isang buong araw akong hamburger ang kinain. I stayed in an apartment with 5 other pinoys. We went our para mamasyal but pag balik namin nalaman naming pinasok pala kami ng magnanakaw. We lost some cash, clothes etc etc. We reported the incident to the Petrth police. Walang narekober na kahit ano.

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  19. I usually spend my first day in a different country just wandering near the hotel, looking for places to eat: from the fancy restos to the street food. And while in the process, I also look for scenic spots that are just walking-distance from my hotel so I can go there after dinner. :)

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  20. First things first is FOODS! Though you don't know where you are well at least you know where and what to eat :P Hehehehehehe. I lost my personalized cap when we went to Pampanga :(( Saddening coz that cap gave by my father when I was 10 :(( Huhubels :'( HAHHAHA

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  21. First country that I visited is New York City.I wander around the areas near the hotel,look for a place where I can eat.I never did lost a thing,but I missed the Bus going home.Waited for 2 hours.Good thing I'm in NY were everybody walks and what i did is roamed around Central Park.

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  22. I spend my first day in an unknown city trying the native delicacies. I've lost my fave scarf before when I went to Baguio. Good thing I found a nicer one from the market there

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  23. First thing I usually do in a new place is to familiarize myself with the different routes/methods of going to the hotel. Then I plan the itinerary for the day by looking up closing times of the different attractions of the place. The rest I leave in the hands of destiny.

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  24. Just for me, Dont bring A map on the road. You may not now, People will take opportunity to make bad things at you because you dont know anything of the place. Play Like you are a local, Beforehand going out of a lodge, search the internet and memorize the place or jot down notes.

    Havent lost anything. And thank God. But If the thing lost is me, You are going to see me first on a police station pleading help from them.

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  25. Just wander around. breath the air and wander again ofcourse without forgetting the tracks of my feet. It always good to be cautious :D

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  26. I spent just like i KNOw the place. lakad lakad, talk to the locals, eat new foods and of course memorize beforehand my dentination.

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  27. I spend it like I grew up there. beforehand going out of the lodge, memorizing what to do is the key and if Im out, Just walk like ordinary but pretty minding of the environment around me

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Hi. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I'd love to hear from you =)