My Busan Birthday

Like clockwork, I woke up last Friday with a sore throat, just in time for our weekend getaway to Busan. We went anyway. It was me and Glenn with 4 friends from work.

The plan was to take the KTX (fast train) from Seoul Station down to Busan on Friday night, but when we got to Seoul Station on Friday, all the tickets had been sold out. So, we decided to party in Seoul that night and bought tickets for the next morning. We stayed in a love motel nearby the station and did dinner at a Korean restaurant. Despite my sore throat, I felt pretty good and figured a good night’s sleep would help.

Hardly slept.

We went to bed around 2am and had to get up at 7am to catch our train at 8am. Since the only tickets available were “standing tickets,” meaning there were no seats left but we could stand, we had to get there early and grab the fold-out chairs right inside the car doors. Otherwise, we would have stood the whole 3 hours down to Busan.


Finally, we arrived in Busan a little before 11am and walked around looking for a restaurant. We wanted to find one with Western-style breakfasts (eggs, toast, bacon, etc.) but as the minutes went by and the hungrier we got, we settled on an Uzbekistani restaurant in the Russian quarter of the city. None of us had ever had Uzbekistani food before, and not only were we tired and hungry, we were intrigued; what do they eat in Uzbekistan? It turns out, they eat a lot of meat and potatoes with delicious seasonings and sauces. We ordered something called “samsa” for appetizers, which is basically a meat and cabbage-filled pastry topped with sesame seeds. For lunch, I got stewed lamb and potatoes. It was all so delicious! As good as their food is, it’s a shame that Uzbekistani cuisine isn’t well known around the world.

Four of us wanted to spend the rest of our time in Busan at the beach, but the two who were acting as guides took us to a temple that ended up being a 3-hour hike. I wasn’t feeling well and needed a good 2-3 hours to take a nap, so an unexpected hike was not the most pleasant surprise. It ended up being pretty far from the beach, too, so we never did make it there. We had to go back to the train station to buy our return tickets, and from there we went and grabbed rooms at another love motel (they are plentiful and relatively cheap throughout all of Korea). By the time we were settled in and met up for dinner, it was 8:30pm and I was too tired and feeling too sick to go out. So, I spent the eve of my birthday cooped up in our hotel room. I was feeling a little down about it, but when the others came back from dinner they came up to my room and surprised me with singing “Happy birthday” and brought me pizza and Twix, my favorite candy. They also bought a disposable camera and had been taking pictures throughout the evening for me, since I couldn’t join them for dinner. It was really thoughtful and I was quite happy after all that. Not a bad way to turn 29!

The next day, two of our friends went off and did their own thing because they bought early tickets, and the rest of us had bought 5:00pm train tickets. We did lunch at a Japanese steakhouse and then walked around the part of town we hadn’t seen yet. For the last hour or two, we rested in a coffee shop and just chatted. We went to our train early again to get seats (standing tickets again) and managed to do so, but the train was a lot more crowded than the one we took Saturday morning and we all gave up our seats to elderly people (I gave mine up to a little kid). So, we stood the whole way from Busan to Seoul, but it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. We chatted the whole way and had a great time.

We got back to Seoul before 7pm, and we got dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant in Itaewon. We left Seoul around 9:45pm and got back to EV around 11:15pm.

This is a birthday I’ll always remember. View my pictures to see what we did in Busan!
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