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.


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). 


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.


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.


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.


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).


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).


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.


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.


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.  


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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!