So I decided to get my almost non-functional laptop moving… Saved a draft of this post for seven-months because my laptop is almost as good as dead. But since I’ve lots of time now, let me just be super patient to finish up this post.
So I decided to get my almost non-functional laptop moving… Saved a draft of this post for seven-months because my laptop is almost as good as dead. But since I’ve lots of time now, let me just be super patient to finish up this post.
2014 is ending in a few hours and I am definitely so ready to welcome 2015. Just a quick post before I leave home for a countdown party! I don’t know if 2014 had been good or bad.. I think it’s probably a good mixture.
This year consisted of a lot of adventures and I felt like I was constantly on a roller coaster.. There were so many ups and downs and writing this post did make me realize some of the silly things I’ve done this year.
In 2014, I fulfilled the biggest dream in my life so far. Which was to study abroad, in Korea. I never in my university life thought I would be able to go to Korea for exchange because it’s so competitive and my grades are far from perfect. Nonetheless, I made it with a story to tell and a memory that will last with me forever. It was definitely the best 5 months of my life and I don’t think there was any moment I was homesick throughout my exchange except the last couple of weeks before going home.
This year is also the year where I travelled the most because of my exchange. Although not globally, but those small inter-cities trips did made me learn and think a lot. Other than all the typical “money is not easy to earn” lessons, I realize that life is too short so we should stop bothering about what people think and just do whatever that makes us happy. I’ve met so many kind people this year and I would like to believe that there are still nice people in this world despite all the evils.
Other than all these life lessons, I also met a family who treated me with so much kindness and love. They are like my family in Korea and I think we probably met in the past life or something. It was truly a heart-warming experience.
But of course, there was also the bad where I experience a broken love. So much dramas and I guess it wasn’t mine to begin in the first place. But well, lesson learnt!
A broken love comes a stronger friendship. I forge a lot of friendships and grew closer to people I never thought I could. And I also grew closer with my family through all those times I was away and the small bickers we had.
In terms of academic, it’s still pretty much of a mundane but I’ve done my part and I’m happy to be graduating next year! The Ascott Challenge was definitely the highlight of this academic year. The journey was nothing but amazing (and tiring). My team members and I were so amazed at how much we could push our limits and we really learnt a lot through all the nerve wrecking presentations and tight deadlines! Am glad that our hardwork paid off! :)
2014 is finally coming to an end! It also means it’s time for me to put down all my emotional baggage and unnecessary negative thoughts and grow to become a better person! I’m never good at keeping up with resolutions but I’m just hoping next year will be another exciting year (since I’m starting work) and as cheesy as it sounds, I’ll continue sharing in this space as “girlinsorea” because I really love it!
Having to live in Pusan National University’s (PNU) dormitory for 4 months, I’ve tasted some of the best and worst food. No doubt, the dormitory serves the worst food EVER! But I force myself to eat in a lot since I’ve already paid for meals and I don’t want to waste the money. Plus, going down and up the “PNU WongBee Mountain” is such a chore.
One thing I realized is that the university streets in Korea are really hyped up but people usually talk about the ones in Seoul but not Busan. It was difficult for me to decide what’s good to eat when I first arrived in Busan so I decided to collate some of my top 10 favorites eateries near Pusan National University! I would say that most of them are pocket friendly price except for one where you really pay for quality food. But it’s always good to splurge once in a while right? :D
I blogged about this before and I’m going to blog about it again since it’s probably one of the tastiest and most convenient food you can get other than cup ramen. I think many who visited Korea have heard about the “Isaac Toast”. But seriously, why eat Isaac toast when you can get a tastier + thicker toast at a cheaper price!
Instead of the normal two layer toast that Isaac is selling, the toast shops outside PNU specialise in 3-layer toast! Expect generous ingredients such as apples/pickles, cabbage and chicken mayo/ham-cheese/tuna-mayo etc (depending on what you order).
There are around 4-5 stores selling the same thing outside PNU but 명물토스트 is my favourite because the ahjumma is really friendly. Other than toast, they also sell juice and waffles. The ahjummas usually add syrup in the juice but you can opt for no syrup by telling them “시럽 말고 넣어주세요 (siryup malgo neoh-eo juseyo)”, which basically means no syrup.
Here’s a little help in case you’re not sure what to order.
Directions: The store is just right outside the main entrance of Pusan National University.
P/S: Bap Burger (Rice burger) is also one of the cheapest food you can get outside PNU but I’ll choose bread over rice anytime!
VALENCE Burgers will do the job. This place sells pretty decent handmade burger and it’s much cheaper than many other handmade burger joints in Singapore.
Other than their handmade burgers, they also have one of the best garlic fries I’ve ever eaten!! Remember to order that!!! Chili fries are just passable though. You could complete your meal with a drink and fries and the drinks are refillable. Only about SGD $10 for a set and you get better quality item as compared to fast food like McDonalds. It’s pretty worth it!
Directions: Busan Univ Station, Exit 3. Walk straight till you reach the main street where T mobile is on your right and Starbucks Coffee is on your left. Turn left (toward Starbucks Coffee direction) and continue walking straight till you see Valence Burgers on your left.
Address: 312-7 Jangjeon-dong Geumjeong-gu, Busan
I think makgeolli is probably the most preferred Korean alcohol among many since it’s really sweet! Other than having it straight from the bottle, do you know you could mix it with many other things to make it even better?
I’ve been to three different places which serves makgeolli in three different styles. Each has it’s own unique taste and I didn’t know drinking makgeolli could be that interesting!
부산대 산성: PNU Fortress
One thing I realized in Korea is that it gets really cooling under the trees (even in summer). It’s weird because I tried going under the trees in Singapore but it.. still.. remains the same. Now I understand why Koreans love having their mini picnic in the middle of a forest.
Yup, so you basically “dine” in the forest here. And like how different cities in Korea have their own makgeolli, this place sells their own makgeolli too!
Directions: This might be pretty unknown for those who are not studying in PNU and I have no idea how to give the directions to this place but it’s near the PNU Gymnasium! Students in the university are generally friendly so you can always ask around! :)
And if you prefer fruity drinks, try this place that sells fruit flavoured makgeolli. They have many different flavoured makgeolli such as kiwi, peach etc.
It comes in a huge jar and cost only KRW3,500 if I didn’t remember wrongly? Expect a slushie makgeolli instead of the normal makgeolli. But they can get pretty inconsistent so your makgeolli might turn out to be very watery!
They also sell lots of food here and like many other drinking places, you have to order at least one food item. Their spicy seafood guksu (noodle) is da bomb! And the staff also check your ID so remember to bring them!! My friends got turned down because they didn’t bring their IDs along. Anyway, it’s best to keep your ID in your wallet since it’s common for the staffs to do a random check in these drinking places near the university.
Directions: Busan Univ Station, Exit 3. Walk straight till you reach the main street where T mobile is on your right and Starbucks Coffee is on your left. Turn right and walk straight till you see a traffic light. Cross diagonally to Busan Bank and continue walking straight till you see a handphone shop on your right (Lotteria is right opposite the handphone shop). Upon seeing the handphone shop, turn right to the small alley and continue walking straight for till you see another alley with a huge white signboard on your left. Turn into that alley and you’ll find 조선칼국수와통막걸리.
Address: 418-37 Jangjeon-dong Geumjeong-gu, Busan
Heard of makgeolli with honey? If you haven’t, you need to try it! It’s even tastier than the usual makgeolli and this place also sells makgeolli + cider and makgeolli + yogurt.
But I didn’t really like this place because the owner is double standard upon knowing that you are a foreigner. If you want to get some honey makkgeolli, go to Sinchon in Seoul. You’ll be spoilt for choices.
Directions: *Don’t bother*
Give me OUTDARK CHICKEN!! I’m a huge chimaek (chicken & beer) fan and I’ve tasted countless fried chicken in Korea. Other than Kyochon Chicken, my second favourite would have to be Outdark Chicken. Outdark originated from Busan and I heard recently, they’ve also started operation in Seoul! Hopefully they get as popular as Yoogane and open a branch in Singapore soon!
This place is always full during dinner so if you’re in a big group, I suggest going either really early or really late.
Directions: Busan Univ Station, Exit 3. Walk straight till you reach the main street where T mobile is on your right and Starbucks Coffee is on your left. Turn right and walk straight till you see a traffic light. Cross diagonally to Busan Bank and continue walking straight till you see a handphone shop on your right (Lotteria is right opposite the handphone shop). Upon seeing the handphone shop, turn right to the small alley and continue walking straight for about 3 minutes. Outdark Chicken is on your right.
Address: 417-29 Jangjeon-dong Geumjeong-gu, Busan
Pork soup rice literally. Taste very much like our teochew porridge in my opinion. Most of my friends didn’t like this because the taste of the pork is really strong. Well, I didn’t like this dish too in the beginning but it gets so addictive after a few tries! People in Busan generally eat saltier and sweeter food so I guess that explains the “strong porky smell”.
There is a “Dwaeji Gukbap Street” near PNU but my favourite one is the one near the North Gate of PNU where the kind ahjumma always give 1000KRW discounts for students!
Directions: Busan Univ Station, Exit 3. Walk straight till you reach the main street where T mobile is on your right and Starbucks Coffee is on your left. Turn right and walk straight till you see a traffic light. Cross to the opposite side (where ABC Mart is located) and continue walking straight till you see Lotteria. Turn left upon seeing Lotteria and you can find lots of 돼지국밥 there! Good luck in finding the one that suits your tastebuds!
If you want some Korean snacks but prefer a restaurant setting, try this place. This is an absolute no-frill Korean snacks shop and everything is really affordable so you can order lots without burning a hole in your pocket. I heard that their cheese rabokki and tonkatsu salad are good!
Photo credit: http://toryssong.blog.me/220060827972
Directions: Busan Univ Station, Exit 3. Walk straight till you reach the main street where T mobile is on your right and Starbucks Coffee is on your left. Turn right and walk straight till you see a traffic light. Cross to the opposite side (where ABC Mart is located) and continue walking straight to a T-Junction (after Baskin Robbins). Turn left at the T-Junction and continue walking till you find 빨봉분식 on your left.
Address: 420-26 Jangjeon-dong Geumjeong-gu, Busan
You know how kimchi jjigae sometimes get a little too boring? Why not try this place where they braise pork/beef short ribs together with kimchi/capsaicin soup base! Price is a little high, about 10,000 ~ 12,000 KRW/pax. You can also choose the spiciness (10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 70% and 100%). You might want to start with the 10% first because my room mate found 20% spicy but I thought it was pretty okay.
Directions: Busan Univ Station, Exit 3. Walk straight till you reach the main street where T mobile”is on your right and Starbucks Coffee is on your left. Turn right and walk straight till you see a traffic light. Cross diagonally to Busan Bank and continue walking straight till you see a handphone shop on your right (Lotteria is right opposite the handphone shop). Upon seeing the handphone shop, turn right to the small alley and continue walking straight for about 2 minutes. 짚신매운갈비찜 is on your left.
Address: Busandaehak-ro 50beon-gil Geumjeong-gu, Busan
My first taste of sushi in Korea after 4 months. The set up is pretty similar an omakase and you have the chef working the magic right in front of your eyes. You can choose between three sets, each priced at KRW 15,000, KRW 20,000 or KRW 25,000 respectively. The difference is the number of sushi (10, 13 and 15 pieces) and the KRW 25,000 set has an additional sashimi platter.
Busan is famous for it’s seafood so no doubt, their sashimi is really fresh and good. And the chef also tells you what you are eating (not like I understand -_-) but at least they tried?
You might think it’s pretty pricey but… Paying just KRW15,000 ~ KRW 25,000 for a 7/8 course set? So worth it! The restaurant is really tiny and it gets crowded during lunch time so going at a later timing (by 2pm since they close at 3pm for dinner service) would be nice!
Directions: Busan Univ Station, Exit 3. Walk straight till you reach the main street where T mobile is on your right and Starbucks Coffee is on your left. Turn right and walk straight till you see a traffic light. Cross to the opposite side (where ABC Mart is located) and continue walking straight to a T-Junction (after Baskin Robbins). Cross to the opposite side (where Olleh is located) and continue walking straight continue walking straight for about 5 minutes. Sushi Sim 스시 심 is on your right.
Address: 419-10 Jangjeon 2(i)-dong Geumjeong-gu, Busan
What’s Korean food without Korean BBQ!
However, I don’t have any particular favourite Korean BBQ restaurant in Busan because the best one I’ve eaten are in Anyang and Jeju. Unless you’re eating BBQ Buffet (where they give you sucky meat), Korean high-grade beef or some special marinated meat, pork and chicken are just… pork and chicken to me. There are lots of BBQ restaurants outside PNU so I would say, follow your instincts. But I normally don’t go into shops that sell by grams because I have a perception that they charge more for less.
Directions: Countless! Just go to one that you think looks good!
The coffee culture in Korea is really strong and Koreans love getting coffee after meals. Good + cheap coffeehouses are hard to come-by these days so do try NOHS Coffee when you are near PNU! I heard the owner of this café actually goes by the surname of NOHS too!
Anyhow, NOHS is a really good place for cheap coffee and cakes. And although their coffees are cheap, they don’t compromise the quality. However, the cakes are just so-so. But paying only KRW 4500~5500 for a drink AND cake, what else can you expect?
And do you know that many coffee shops in Korea (except the major franchise) gives a discount of KRW 1,000 if you takeaway? Do look out for the big “take-out” signs and you might want to start telling the barista “take-out” in your next visit to a coffeeshop in Korea!
Directions: Busan Univ Station, Exit 3. Walk straight till you reach the main street where T mobile is on your right and Starbucks Coffee is on your left. Turn right and walk straight till you see a traffic light. Cross to the opposite side of Tous les Jours (also opposite Busan Bank) and walk straight till you find NOHS Coffee on your right.
Of course, the list goes on and on but I’ll leave the rest to you! Do let me know if you have a good place to recommend and hopefully I’ll be back soon to enjoy it! :)
Just last month, some of my friends who are currently on exchange at Sogang and Ewha University came over to Busan for a 3D2N trip! Well, technically speaking, I only know one of them but it’s always good to know more people when you are abroad!
It was pretty fun being a “tour guide” in a foreign country. And sad to say, I thought I did a pretty bad job since there were some places I haven’t been to! But I didn’t have to worry much anyway because Busan people are all so friendly! I was busy figuring out where was the bus stop to our destination and I guessed this ahjumma thought we were lost so she actually told us the way to get to the bus stop! Sooo kind of her!
This was the itinerary for their 3 days in Busan! Mostly planned by themselves but I did give some constructive feedbacks you know…
One of my favourite place in Busan! The whole park is pretty big so if you have the whole day, you can take your time to walk around. Otherwise, you can always take the tram which cost 1,500 KRW. It brings you to the five different attractions in the park and you can choose to get off at any attractions you want. There’s a pebble beach which we missed (I heard it was good!), an observatory tower, two temples and of course the famous Yeongdo Lighthouse!
I didn’t remember which stop we got off but it was the last stop of the tram course! Well, walking down is always an easier option…
You know you are at Taejondae when you see these two landmarks!
So we saw some people down at the rocks and we decided to explore too!
But it was SUPERRRRRRRR windy! We literally stopped walking every few seconds because it was way too windy! I think it almost blew Sheryl away!
But the view was absolutely worth it!
A mother figurine at the observatory tower to make people “think twice” before committing suicide.
To get there: Take Subway Line 1 to Busan station. Get off at exit 8 or 10 and cross the road to where “Twosome Place” is. Turn right and walk straight down till you see a bus stop with the bus number 88 or 101. Take either one of the bus and alight at the last stop. Taejondae is a 5~8 minutes walk away from the bus terminal.
Went to Haeundae for dinner since my friends were staying there! We went to this BBQ restaurant that my classmate recommended. It was so cheap and good! Only paid about 7,000 per person? I come to realize that BBQ is “cheaper” when there are more people. We only ordered skirt meat and samgyeopsal since I was told they were the best! I have never heard of skirt meat in Singapore but apparently it’s pork?? It tasted nothing like pork and it’s super tender!
To get there: Take Subway Line 1 to Haeundae station. Get off at exit 3 and keep walking along the straight path. The shop is on the left side of the pathway.
The Seoulers wanted to check out the beach night view since there aren’t any beach in Seoul! But I think they were pretty disappointed since there was only a bridge with some… lights. Well, it’s pretty but there are other places in Korea with a better night view!
But my previous experience at Gwangalli Beach was really good though since the buddies brought some of the SMU students there for some raw fish!
To get there: Take Subway Line 2 to Gwangan station. Get off at exit 3 or 4. The beach is about 10 minutes walk away.
The girls visited the beach and the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple but I decided to give it a miss since it was too far for me!
Note to self: Must visit these two places before I leave Busan!
Gamcheon Cultural Village
It’s my second time here!
I came here during winter with my room mate but it was crazily cold so we didn’t really get to enjoy the whole walk. So I thought since I am here during Spring, I should be able to enjoy it properly.. But hell no -_-.
It was so windy (again) that day so we just wanted to quickly finish the whole route and hide in a cafe! But nonetheless, I really enjoy this place a lot! Filled with so much colours and happy kids! A super happy place!
To get there: Take Subway Line 1 to Toseong Station. Get off at exit 6 and turn right once you reached an intersection. Continue walking till you see a bus stop infront of Busan Cancer Center. Take either bus 2 or 2-2 and alight at the final stop.
The girls wanted to eat Dwaeji Gukbap so with the help of Naver and my poor navigation skills, we finally found one in Seomyeon!
Seomyeon is the downtown of Busan, very similar to Myeongdong in Seoul. There’s an underground shopping mall, departmental stall and some small boutiques. It’s not only good for shopping, but good for partying as well since the clubs are located here!
Back to dwaeji gukbap.
Dwaeji = pork. Gukbap = Soup rice. So this literally means pork soup rice.
I heard from my professor that this is a Busan delicacy and you can’t really find it in Seoul?? I didn’t believe it at first so I went to google it. Aaaa..nd it’s true! Now you know what to eat when you are in Busan! :)
Hmmm. 3 generations?
The shop was crowded but I personally felt that the stalls near my school are actually nicer so I wouldn’t recommend this place! Just look out for the “돼지국밥” signboard in Busan! You can find them easily everywhere!
Pusan National University (PNU) 46Street
University street is like a norm in Korea and food/shopping at the university street are generally much cheaper since they are targeted for students.
And PNU has their own university street too! Although it’s not as huge as Hongdae or Edae, but it’s good enough for some random retail therapy and food cravings!
I told the girls to come over because there’s a really famous toast shop right outside PNU. It’s basically a three layer toast and you can choose fillings such as chicken mayo, tuna mayo, ham etc. Price ranges between 2,000 ~ 2,500 KRW! What a perfect price for university students? And it’s really filling as well!
Someone please get rid of all the expensive food stalls and bring this to SMU instead!! It just doesn’t make sense to pay $3.50 for half a sandwich (which doesn’t fill my stomach anyway)!
Ok enough of food. I’m really hungry now….
Since I’ve been traveling a lot lately, I have pretty much familiarize myself with the Korean bus reservation system (also with the help of my Korean friends)! I thought this post might be useful for those who are coming to Korea for exchange in the future!
What you need:
1. An alien registration card
2. A Korean check card (or ATM card)
3. A computer or smartphone (Download this application call “전국고속버스운송조합 (코버스)” or just key in “kobus”)
The alien card is the like the key to everything in Korea. With the card, you can basically do ANYTHING. Getting a telephone line, open a bank account, access Internet banking, sign up for music shows and so much more!
I have no problem opening a bank account since Hana Bank allows foreigners to open a bank account with their passport. But I believe this also means that I have limited access to the banking services they provide.
For example, before updating my details, I tried booking my bus ticket from Seoul to Busan but I wasn’t able to do it. My friend also didn’t manage to make a booking probably because of the same reason (I think..). So do remember to go to the bank to update your details once you receive your alien card!
You can check the bus schedule in English here: http://www.kobus.co.kr/web/eng/02_service/service01.jsp
Making a reservation through phone
Do the search! You can refine your search based on the “Bus Grade” but usually I just leave it and see what are the available timings for me.
The available timings will appear next. The bus grade are classified into 3 different types: General, Excellent and M/Excellent. There are 45 seats in General buses, 28 seats in Excellent and M/Excellent buses. Usually general buses cost the cheapest since there are more seats, which also means, less comfortable. But I think it’s pretty okay for me! The leg room is similar to a economy class airline seat. I took the general bus once to Seoul and it was a bearable 4.5 hours journey!
Select your seats that you want.
Check the two boxes. These are basically cancellation fees condition which I am not very sure about… If I am not wrong, there will be no penalty for it if you are to cancel the reservation 2 days before departure. Otherwise, they would be a 10%~20% charge on your ticket depending on when you cancel it. But I actually cancelled my Yeosu->Busan bus ticket on the day itself and I still managed to get my full refund back at the ticketing counter? Hmm. It might be because I paid in advance (via the Internet)! Read more below!
Fill in your details!
Reservation complete! To collect your ticket, pass your card to the officers in the ticketing office and tell them you made a reservation.
Making a reservation through Internet
Similar to step 2 of phone booking, do the search!
Select your seats and input your card details.
And you should be done! To double confirm, you could always retrieve for your reservation.
Retrieving and cancellation of your reservation
My reservation is confirmed! I could also make a cancellation on this page if I want to.
Now this is the part that I’m confused. All my friends told me to make the payment first since I purchased the tickets online. And I guess that gave me a 100% refund for my Yeosu->Busan bus ticket? But on the other hand, I was also afraid that if I were to make payment online, I wouldn’t be able to get the refund back since I already PAID for my ticket and Korea reservations system work such in a way that you are only charged when you collect the tickets.
Ah, anybody wants to clarify this?
But if your schedule is confirmed, you can just proceed to make payment!
After payment, you can choose to either print out your ticket or collect at the ticketing counter!
Happy traveling! :)