An unexpected change in work schedule meant that I was unable to work the weekend. What a shame! It gave me the chance to see something other than the immediate area.
So, early Saturday morning I took the bus in to Busan. South Korea’s second largest city; only Seoul the capital is larger. It is the busiest port in Korea (9th busiest in the world)
Busan is pronounced Pusan in Korean and this was its former (western) name. No idea why it has changed but I am sure it matters not to the 3.5 million people who call it home.
In any case it is a big place. Built on the sea and a thriving port it is built on any available flat land in the area and some not so flat. Due to the mountainous terrain straight off the coast Busan’s development spreads like tentacles rather than emanating equally in most direction from an epicentre (like many large cities do). The geography of the area makes for an odd layout. Check it out on google earth to see what I mean. There is, more or less, a city centre but many areas seem almost isolated from it as the hills/mountains more or less separate whole neighbourhoods.
Despite being spread over a large area getting around is easy thanks to the underground trains. The Metro system has 4 lines each reaching out in two directions from the “centre” (such as there is a discernible centre) like an octopus thrown at the ground.
Gamcheon Cultural Village
In the south-west of the city lies a curious little area that has grown from a slum neighbourhood into a big tourist attraction. Gamcheon village is built on hills and was a former shanty town set up by mainly war refugees fleeing the north Koreans in the early 1950s. (Busan was the only area to remain free of fighting).
In 2009 the government set up a project oddly called “Dreaming of Machu Pichu in Busan” and students and artists were encouraged to paint the houses and the results are clear to see today. Since then, many a wall or open space has become an artist’s canvass and the tourists flock to see it. Even concrete steps have been transformed into works of art.
Pretty. Quirky. Funky. All of these words apply. But it is also now commercial and there are still thousands of residents living there. Not exactly a Machu Pichu I would say it resembles a Brazilian favela.
See for yourself….
Art brings walls to life…
Some call it art. I call it spooky!
I love this next photo. I am sure it is a parody of the place and not a serious attempt at “art” but I just love it.. I like to call this work “Underpinning with the best bricks money can buy”…
Next stop the ‘centre’. A bustling area of modern shops restaurants and bars. Just off the crowded and extremely noisy area is a place known as Café Street.
It is actually a small grid of several blocks full of trendy restaurants, bars and of course cafes. The area is well advertised by those brown tourist road signs guiding people into the area. It is pleasant enough space to spend an hour or two and the Koreans enjoying their café were certainly dressed up for the occasion.
I had done so much walking and I was hungry; it was time for a well-earned rest. The perfect place for it.
To be continued…