A Travellerspoint blog


Friday 5th October

After a solid breakfast, Chris bravely suggest a walk around the block. Still not as straight forward as you'd think, and while we didn't get lost it was puzzling for a while. Found that the shops don't open till about 10:30am so did a bit of window shopping before discovering this very fancy coffee shop. Two guys in butler type garb behind a long counter. Not a word of English spoken or to be read. Said we wanted a coffee and one opens a folder with lots of Japanese writing but prices we could read. Not really knowing want we were choosing we just pointed at one and off he went. Opens a drawer and brings out a bag of beans which he carefully measured before grinding. Puts the grounds into a container over a scientific looking bulb glass with water. Adds a burner and it bubbles and brews away. Pours into two fine bone china coffee cups and saucers, served with sugar and whipped cream. Delightful. What an amazing find.


Back at the hotel we checked out and walked the one minute to the train station to catch the Kamome Limited Express to Nagasaki. Just under two hours. Not as quiet as the trains we've been on till now. Typical clickety clack type train though still very nice inside. We had seats on the left side as we travelled down which afforded the best view travelling around the bays as you came into Nagasaki. A series of long tunnels before we're not pleasant, causing a lot of pressure on the eardrums. This train not pressurised like the KTX.


Nagasaki Station was small and easy to navigate. Information provided us with tram map, circling the two lines we needed to catch and even the day pass at 500 yen each ($6). Each tram trip, regardless of distance, is 120 yen, so the pass is well worth it's value. We clocked up double that be the end of the days tripping. Very easy to navigate the trams, hooray finally we can get from A to B without getting lost. My directions said the hotel was a white building down a side street from the Ourakaigandori Station, about a minutes walk and it was.


Hotel Monterey. What a beautiful quaint place. Portuguese influence throughout the place, open air courtyard, shuttered windows, blue and white tiles. Again, no rest. Dump the bags and headed of sightseeing. First port of call was the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Group of school kids were heading in about the same time and we had a chorus of 'hellos' greeting us as we walked passed. Museum was filled off many damaged remains of buildings and everyday goods from after the bombing. Had shadows of leaves on a doors where they blocked the blast and a photo where a fireman had been standing with his ladder. Quite eerie. It was well put together, very factual with no portion of blame. Nagasaki was just very unlucky. On the day, the bomb was meant for another city but it was covered in cloud so Nagasaki was second on the list. It was also covered in cloud and the mission was about to be aborted when the cloud broke long enough for the target to be sighted. Survivors had written their accounts of the day and I started to read them. Got the the second one and walked out in tears. So very sad. Just wanted to leave after that.


Walked through ground zero, then onto the Peace Park, which was a very restful place as intended.


Managed to find our way back to the tram to take us to Mt.Inasa lookout. Well, it takes you to the stop that leads to the mountain after another 15 minute walk. Took the rope way to the top of the 333m summit, about 5 minutes. Very smooth apart from the slight bump as it goes over the support. Got to the top as the sun was setting and stayed till dark. Very beautiful. Trip down was rather crowded but guess they know how many they can cram into the car. Got back safely, obviously. Even managed the return journey of trams back to the hotel. I do like Nagasaki.


Dinner in the hotels very French/Portuguese restaurant almost finished the night. Chris wanted an evening stroll around the harbour. Feel very safe walking around here like we did in Korea. You wonder if its just tourist naivety but all the locals are out and about - women running at night by themselves, young kids fishing, old couples walking.


Posted by tojoken 03:07 Comments (0)

Hydrofoil to Hakata, Japan

Thursday 4th October

Up early and decided not to have breakfast in hotel but head straight to Busan International Ferry Terminal to make sure everything ok with hydrofoil tickets, which of course, it was. There was a 25,200 krw surcharge per person to pay for fuel (22,000) and departure tax (3,200). Trap for young players if not aware but like a good organiser I was aware of that one.

Had breakfast at a kiosk in terminal, me sushi and Chris udon noodles. Bit of time to kill so tried spending last of Korean won at terminal but not much there.

Hydrofoil left at 10am. Not as big as I was expecting. We were right at the front, not visual forward, only to the sides. Didn't feel it go up onto the foils so it was smooth in that respect. Trip a bit like little turbulence in a plane. Walking down to the toilets was a side to side stagger. Quite choppy sea, soft white caps on the waves, but think the hydrofoil absorbed most of it. One point I think it tried to avoid a wave as it turned to the right and then the left but it failed. Made a horrible sick groan and shudder at that one, me too. On the whole very fast trip, just under 3 hours. Only started feeling a bit queasy in the last hour but shutting my eyes got me through that.


Arrived 12:55 on a beautiful sunny day in Hakata. Had to go through customs just like at the airport where you a photographed and fingerprinted. No X-ray machine but I had my luggage hand searched though what you can feel or find by sliding hand down side of bag and pressing I don't know.

Beautiful sunny day in Hakata. Information lady told us which bus to catch to Hakata Train Station, number 11 is the fastest as it travels straight up the main road and luckily we got that one. Still took a good 20mins. Great designed with several single seats which is great if you have luggage as can keep bag next to you. At station, absolutely beautiful but we were on a time schedule so would look later, we walked to JR information to exchange our Japanese Rail vouchers for passes. Filled in a form and off we went with our passes, straight out Chikushi exit which lead to our hotel. Could see it from exit so got pats on the back from Chris for that one.


Checked in Hakata Miyako Hotel 2:12, up to room, dumped bags and back out door quick sticks and back to Hakata train station, a minutes walk from hotel. Why in such a rush? We had an Asahi Beer tour at 3pm and we still had to work out how to get there. Information told us we needed track 7 on the Kagoshima Line and the next train was 2:46pm, that was going to be pushing it. In our mad rush we ended up outside manically looking for it. Chris spotted a 7 and we ran down the stairs to find we ended up in the bus station. We frantically dash around getting more frantic and really achieving little. Finally we managed to get back into the station and in front of us was track 7. We ran up the stairs and there was the train. We bolted on. It was only two stops. Station Takeshita was our destination. We were off the train 2:53 and at the exit, asked the ticket guy where Asahi Factory was. Ran off to the left, down stairs and there across the road was the factory. So we crossed only having to cross back to get to the entrance which for some reason we went upstairs to, only to be directed back down. Sweaty and puffing we made it to the registration desk. 'You just made it,' smiled the immaculately pressed Asahi lady. Then we had to fill in forms. One question was how did you get here today and I felt like circling them all and adding running not walking. Found out that if you circled that you had driven or cycled in, that your could not have the beer sat the end as this was Japanese law.


Tour was very informative but no photos allowed. Hakata is the second oldest Asahi Brewery (91yrs) behind Osaka (120yrs). They make an Asahi Clear for the Japanese market. It has no malt in it, which is what attracts the tax in Japan, so makes it a cheap beer (still 5% alcohol) that Japanese buy as the main Asahi too dear. Crazy that you can't afford your own product. Atomi, our guide, also said it taste horrible. After the tour we got to go to the tasting hall where you could drink 3 beers. She got everyone to try the Asahi Dry first, then the new Asahi Black. Then whatever you wanted to go back for. You only had 20 minutes and Chris managed his 3, of course. The two guys we sat and drank with, one guy from Oregon and the other English, were both teachers from Korea who taught primary grade Koreans english. Of course we started talking about our trip and experiences and agreed on everything we had experienced. It was very interesting.

Made our way back to hotel with no dramas, then decided to go for a walk around. Well it ended up a very large walk and finding our way back not a easy in the dark. Ended up walking down some dodgy looking streets - men's clubs. Eeeww. Finally came out to a Main Street and while trying to figure out where we were, were offered assistance by a local. She advised catching a bus back to Hakata Station, as we were about 20 minutes walk away. We chose to walk and her direction and time were spot on. Chris was not a happy chappy by this time, hungry and thirsty and sore feet. Good old Family Mart (like 7/11) provided sandwiches and water . Yummy Japanese food experience.


Actually we did try getting something from a group of street eateries but they didn't have pictures like all the ones in Korea did and there wasn't any English to be had.

Posted by tojoken 18:11 Comments (0)

Lazy Day in Busan


Wednesday 3rd October

Lazy day today. Though we were owed one. Went down for breakfast around nine and Mr Shim was there with our reservation for tomorrow's hydrofoil. He had used his mothers credit card as he doesn't have one and then gave her the money. He had written a note to explain everything due to his bad English, his words, we do not agree and then he asked how to say 'ferry fee' again.

For a lazy day we still managed to walk nearly 7 kms. Went to other direction along the beach and managed a little shopping and got a present for Mr Shim (some fancy bakery had a box of biscuits all done up with a ribbon). He was not at the desk when we returned but we left it for him with a note of thanks.

Lunch by the beach was very normal, nachos and a local beer. Back for a relax and movie at the hotel, before heading down to the beach to type the blog. Erica rang on Skype while on the beach so talked to the girls, gave them a panoramic view of where we were sitting all with the others on the beach giving us quizzical glances.

We returned to the same restaurant we went to last night. Tried the BBQ, it comes with 3 meats so we chose thick beef slice, thin beef slice and pork. Great night to chose it as there is a cold breeze blowing and the heat from the coals was very warming on our face and knees. Very nice meat so tender, never get meat like that at home, well, not for this price. Another bottle of Soju but so busy cooking it wasn't until end of meal that we really had a chance to drink any.


Nice short one tonight for those of you who claim I talk to much.


Posted by tojoken 02:01 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Seokguram Grotto and Busan

Tuesday 2nd Oct

Off to Busan today.

We were up before 6am to start our trek up Mt.Tohamsan to see the Seokguram Grotto. We were advised it would take 50 minutes so we took off, or at least I did with Chris complaining, to try and make up some time. It was hill the whole way and when it wasn't uneven cobbled paths there were huge stone steps to contend with. It was amazing the number of locals out walking and boy, what a fit lot they are, didn't matter if they were young or old, they were all heading up the hill at a good pace. We made it to the top where we bought our ticket to complete the 600m left. We arrived to the grotto and the time was 50 minutes.


The area was beautiful and restful and the white granite Buddha was behind glass and no photos allowed. Felt a bit cheated after all that effort, but we sat on a step in the early morning sun and ate our muffin that we had bought since breakfast was going to be late and enjoyed the peace. Getting back up was not so easy and the thought of the walk back made aching legs ache all the more. We had a few stops going down chasing squirrels, or at least a native squirrel like creature, with our cameras. They can move. Back at the hotel 8:45 and they stop breakfast at 9 and there was quite a queue so Chris jumped in the queue while I unloaded everything upstairs.

We decided to taxi back to Singyeongju Station rather than try the bus again. There was no room for luggage and we had taken up 4 seats yesterday and really couldn't be bothered with the hassle. Quite a difference in cost - bus was 3,000 krw, taxi 31,500krw ($3 vs $26). Certainly a lot quicker, cut off 20 minutes and a lot more pleasant. Gave us plenty of time to look around train station, take photos and relax. This was our last KTX train in Korea and our shortest trip at only 40 minutes.


Busan Station was very busy and after being turned down by a taxi driver to take us to the International Ferry Terminal,


only a 5 minute drive but 20 minute walk, we decided we would try and book the hydrofoil tickets by phone from the hotel. Found a more helpful taxi driver around other side of train station to take us to hotel, was not going back to the other guy. This looked like a deluxe taxi, very nice, all leather. Before I left Australia, I had printed off addresses of the hotels we were staying at in the language of that country to show to the drivers and this was the first time we had to use it and the driver was very happy and thankful. So were we. We arrived Hotel Homers (pronounced by driver as Homer-res, which made us think of the Simpsons and Homer-er). Fantastic view of the Gwangan Bridge from our window and huge room.


No wi-if in hotel so are typing this on the beach where there is free wi- if. Hope it holds out

Hotel had a computer in the lobby which we tried to book our hydrofoil tickets on. The site was all in Korean so the concierge came over to help. We had keyed in all the information but when it came to paying it would only accept Korean credit cards. He said he would take the cash to the Port Office to pay for us but we needed a cash machine as we did not have 230,000krw in cash. The ATM in the lobby also only accepted local cards, so he took us over the road to a 7/11 and the three of us are standing in there, alternating between Mr Shim reading the screen and then Chris keying in numbers. What a performance. Anyway off went Mr. Shim with our cash and details, telling us he'd see us tomorrow. His English was pretty good apart from the 'pary pari' he mention several times which we could not grasp. Finally he wrote it down ' ferry fee'. He was quite keen to learn how to pronounce it and keep saying thank you you help me with my English. Gee, the least we could do .

Wandered around the beach area in the evening, snapping away on the camera and watched the bridge light up. Found a restaurant, with pictures, where we had dinner, some beef soup that came boiling in its cast iron dish. Tried Soju, local alcoholic drink served in shot glasses, a lot like vodka. Went to bed with the blinds open with the view of the bridge. Very nice.


Posted by tojoken 04:32 Comments (0)



Monday 1st October

Since our attempt to use the local subway trains was so unsuccessful yesterday, we decided it would be safer to catch a taxi from the hotel to Seoul Station. As soon as you say KTX the driver understands where you want to go. We settled back for a trip through part of Seoul we hadn't seen and next thing we were there. That was quicker than the train that we caught when we arrived in Seoul to take us from Seoul Station to City Hall and so much easier. Cost wasn't a lot of difference either for the two of us, cheaper to train if only one of you but looks like, in this case, a taxi was the better, cost effective option.


We had over an hour to kill, so after getting our tickets, we wandered around looking at the shops in the station. Found a hobby shop for Chris and then found a Golden Arches. Had to try a cheese burger just to see if they were the same. Yep. Took us two go though as Chris walked I and asked for one to be told they didn't make them and came out with a bulgogi burger. I had a look and the Macs and Lotte burger store were next to each other with a clear glass wall so sitting in one store you could see the other. Chris had walked into the wrong one. So I went in to Macs and ordered the burger to takeaway and because it was takeaway it was cheaper. Board advertised cheeseburger for 3,000 krw and takeaway was 2,200 krw.


The 2 hour trip to Gyeongju flew past for Chris who was busy typing his blog. This train was a lot older to the others we had been on, none of the fancy touch panel doors between cars. These had handles to open and shut and the doors are quite solid to pull open. Even the toilet was not self flushing and had a pedal on the floor that flushed it and one to start the water in the sink. Did have a vending machine though for first class passengers to get a free bottle of water so of course we had one. Ride was not as smooth as the previous ones, like the noise and feeling you get when you go from a concrete road onto a tarseal one, you could tell you we're travelling fast. Top speed I saw the train get up to was 300kph. Our stop was not the last one this time so when the 'next station' announcement came for Singyeongju, we had to get up with everyone else and wait by the door. Once the train stops, it take 3 seconds before the door will open. The automatic step is moving out into place for you to disembark.

Followed the crowds to the exit and the located the bus shelter for Bus No. 700. I had read on google this was the one to catch as it went up to Bulguksa Temple and our stop was the one before that one. It was a 50 minute ride through Gyeongju city, which has lovely manicured parks and gardens and up the mountain side. We were the last two on the bus when the automated announcement said Kolon Hotel was the next stop. Only problem was we had just driven past the hotel and now weren't sure if the next stop was going to be up at the temple or where we might end up, so we hopped off. It was a 5-10 minute walk back to the hotel and there was a bus stop outside on the road which made us think the bus was going to stop there on the way back.


Kolon Hotel is very old with a massive golf course around it. Golfers everywhere. Only here for one night as it is in a prime spot for access to Bulguska Temple, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel and Seokguram Grotto, about 50 minutes walk from the ticket gate. The ticket seller said we didn't have enough time to do the grotto today so we are heading off around 6:30am. It opens at 7 so it with be a power up the hill and back down, shower, breakfast and off to the train station for our final train leg in Korea to Busan.


Spent an hour walking around the temple. Crowds of people were still arriving to visit when we were there at 4:30 pm and the place closes at 5:30. Had our first Korean girl walk passed us with a cheery 'hello' and a couple even asked if they could help when we were studying the bus timetable. So far the friendliest people we've struck.

Posted by tojoken 05:17 Comments (0)

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