Our itinerary is deliberately kept very light today, we catered time to travel from Jeju to Busan and also to take a break from the hectic schedule in the past two days in Jeju to prevent travel fatigue. After all, this is our 4th day in South Korea and we still have another eight days to go.
Bye Bye Jeju
Today we bid our farewells to Jeju and embarked on the second leg of our trip. We woke up early to ensure that we have sufficient time to return our rental car and make it to the airport. I was a little worried that we might be cutting the time a little fine as the car rental company only opens at 8am and our flight is at 8.50am. Nonetheless, we tried our luck and left our accommodation early to see if the car rental company opens early. We reached the rental car return at 7.45am and was pleasantly surprised that the car rental company had already opened. The process of car return is very swift. The staff took our car and did a quick inspection, before long we were given the green light that everything was fine with the car. The staff even pointed us to the shuttle bus stop to Jeju Airport and informed us that the bus will be leaving soon. We made it to the 7.50am bus leaving for Jeju Airport. A short 10 mins ride whipped us to the airport in no time. We arrived at Jeju Airport at 8am, giving us ample time to check-in (luckily there were a lot of Korean Air counters and the queue was very thin). Check-in was done in under 5 mins, however, we were struck with a long immigration queue. Foreign visitors travelling out of Jeju Airport, even on domestic flights, are subjected to immigration check. Despite the long queue, the queue moved very fast and we were at airside in under 15 mins. By the time we reached our boarding gate, our flight had just commenced boarding.
My friends and I managed to get some rest onboard the 1 hr flight from Jeju to Busan. After touching down and collected our luggage, we headed to the airport limousine bus stop, which is on the right from the exit of the airport terminal. We managed to catch the 10.20am bus which was just about to depart from the terminal. We arrived at Haeundae each to and the plan was to check into our hotel, freshen up and head out to Busan Gamcheon Village. We had a rude shock at the hotel as we have previously communicated with a hotel staff who ensured that we can check-in early at 11am when we arrive. The check-in staff did not even bother to check and declined our early check-in. At this time, we saw no point in arguing with her (a waste of our time anyway). We did a quick change in plan, left our luggage at the hotel concierge and headed out to Busan Gamcheon Village.
Gamcheon Culture Village – Colourful Village on the Hills
We headed to the nearby subway station, which is about 5 mins walk from the hotel to get to Gamcheon Culture Village. We took the subway from Haeundae Station to Toseong Station, which takes us 1 hr to reach. Exiting the station, the next 20 mins walk is rather daunting. It felt like forever as the walk to Gamcheon Culture Village is literally an uphill walk, nonetheless, it is a good workout for the three of us. We knew we arrived at the Gamcheon Culture Village when we spotted an overhead bridge with very small signage that states the name of the place. Instead of crossing the bridge, we walked a little further where the entrance to the village is. The entrance is already crowded with tourists at the time of our arrival. Gamcheon Culture Village is a residential village that is built on the side of the slopes, most of the buildings here are decked in bright cheerful colours that gave this village its own character. This character also draws tourists to visit. In fact, Gamcheon Culture Village feels very touristy and seems like its sole existence is for tourism at the time of our visit. There are more shops along the main streets then residential buildings. These shops exist for the purpose of tourism selling all sorts of souvenirs, street food and cafes rather than catering to the needs of the residences in Gamcheon Culture Village. There is even a shop that rents Habok for tourists. As we were walking along the street, we noticed the residential units are tucked away either high up away from the main walking street or further down the valley.
It did not take us too long to walk to an open platform where we got a full view of Gamcheon Culture Village. The houses in Gamcheon Culture Village seems to be stacked on top of each other, spreading across the entire valley. From the platform, it seems there is only one small opening that peeps into the sea. The bright colour brings a cheerful character to the village. Standing here looking out into the entire village, the feeling is exhilarating. No wonder tourists flock to this village. Coupled with the clear blue sky and the mountains sitting afar into the sea in Busan, Gamcheon Culture Village is an instagramble place. As we were walking along, we spotted a statue looking out into Gamcheon Culture Village. I read that tourists usually come here to take a picture with this statue of Le Petit Prince and queues for taking a picture with Le Petit Prince can be as long as 30 mins. We originally did not want to take pictures with it, but seeing the queue was relatively short (only 4 people in front of us), we joined the queue. As my friend was taking pictures of me with Le Petit Prince, I spotted a platform below which seem to be able to take great pictures of Gamcheon Culture Village and the best thing is there are no people there. We headed down to this platform through the building next to Le Petit Prince and got our cameras snapping away. After walking for a while more, I spotted a cafe that faces the village. We settled into the cafe for some coffee and desserts before continuing on. The scenery here feels a tad repetitive after a while (well we spent some 3 hrs here) and we decided we had enough of Gamcheon Culture Village. As we were walking back to the entrance of Gamcheon Culture Village, we spotted a bus stop and took a bus down to the subway station. At this point, my friends were relieved there is a bus service up. Their eyes literally rolled when I told them I knew of the bus service and purposely make them walk all the way up.
Before we head back to the hotel to check into our rooms, we stopped by Busan Station to collect the car we rented for the next two days for the excursion out of Busan. Before we collect our car, we headed inside Busan Station to get our express train ticket to Seoul, fearing we might not be able to get tickets if we buy it on our departure date. We took the chance to familiarise ourselves with the station, saving us the trouble to hunt for the platform should we get delayed on our day of departure. We also checked out what food is sold at the train station for our train ride three days later. We headed to collect our car and drove back to the hotel to park for the night. I was concerned about driving in Busan, mainly due to the traffic, thus planned to drive as little as possible in Busan City.
Eating Street in Haeundae
We headed back to our hotel at Haeundae beach after we picked up the car. It is already 8.30pm when we reached the hotel. After checking in and settled into our rooms a bit, we headed out to the nearby Gunam Street where numerous restaurants are located for dinner. After dinner we headed back to the hotel to rest for the night, after all, we have to wake up early the next day for our road trip to Tongyeong and Geoje in Gyeongsangnamdo.