A Day in Buk-Gu, Northern Busan
Buk-Gu, whose name translates to “Northern District” is one of the fifteen administrative zones which make up Busan. We spent a morning wandering around the area, checking out some of its touristic sights: the Fishing Village Folk Museum, a riverside park, and the Gupowaeseong Japanese Fortress.
Busan is a massive city and, even though we’ll be here for three months, there’s no way that we’re going to be able to see every corner. Even a single district, like Buk-Gu, would need more than a single day to comprehensive explore. So, we have to be choosy.
Apparently, we should be choosier. Our first destination in Buk-Gu was the Busan Fishing Village Folk Museum, along the Nakdong River, which was exactly as boring as its name suggests. I would bet that we were the first and only foreign tourists to ever step foot inside. The guide was clearly stunned to see us, and stammered out his memorized sentences of greeting and an explanation as to what we’d be seeing. It was a difficult couple minutes for the poor guy, and I felt like congratulating him when he finished.
The exhibits weren’t really all that bad, there was just nothing in English. We spent a few seconds at each diorama of various fishing scenes, put together a puzzle, and looked at fish in the first-floor aquarium. In and out in ten minutes. But the price was right (free) and if you’re already in the neighborhood or have an interest in the folk traditions of Korean river people, by all means. Enjoy.
Leaving the museum, we went to the nearby Hwamyeong Riverside Park: a long stretch of sports facilities and nature walks with good view of the Nakdong Bridge. We passed through fields of high grass, perfect for hiding a corpse, and a couple of fitness stations. Busan has an absolute abundance of these community workout areas and the equipment is always top-notch. Clean, fully-functional. Some even have benchpresses with actual weights. It’s a testament to the respect with which Koreans treat their community. Equipment like this wouldn’t last twelve hours in an American city.
Eventually we made it to Deokcheon Park, a hill near the Gupo Bridge. Searching for a way up the hill to see the Gupowaeseong Fortress, we entered a small and colorful Buddhist Temple where a monk showed us to a clandestine staircase leading into the woods behind the main altar. On the way up, we passed a few people tending to small vegetable gardens, all of whom grunted “hello” at us. The remains of the fortress weren’t incredibly impressive, but the history is interesting. Gupowaeseong was built by the Japanese during the 16th century Imjin War.
On the other side of the hill, we found a field with a towering Buddha statue and an altar where offerings had recently been made. A bit further on, another temple. Guryongsa Temple was buzzing with ladies running here and there, looking awfully busy, but they encouraged us to kick off our sneakers and check out the interior of the altars. Pretty cool — wonderfully carved wooden walls, strange paintings from Buddha’s life, and ancient statues.
Our day ended with a walk across a crazy pedestrian bridge to the Buk-Gu Culture and Ice Sports Center. We found a filling meal of bibimbap near the Doekcheon Metro station, then hopped back on the train for the long ride back home.
We're Jürgen and Mike, from Germany and the USA. Born wanderers, we love learning about new cultures and have decided to see the world... slowly. Always being tourists might get lame, but eternal newcomers? We can live with that. So, our plan is to move to an interesting new city, once every three months. About 91 days.
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