Tag Archives: brooklyn bridge

Bridges, beaches and beauty of Busan

KOREA PENINSULAThroughout my first month in South Korea, friends and colleagues recommended getting out of Seoul at some point. While the country is relatively small (roughly 20 percent the size of California or about the size of Maine), there is plenty to explore: big cities, quaint villages, lots of mountains and as a peninsula, lots of coastline. For my first solo trip out of Seoul, I targeted the city of Busan for a 24 hour weekend adventure. It sits on the southeastern-most tip of the country and is easily accessible via the KTX (one of four high speed rail systems in the world).

Here are a few fun facts about Busan:

  • With a population of 3.6 million, it is South Korea’s second largest city.
  • It is the world’s fifth largest container handling port in the world.
  • The city intended to bid for the 2020 Olympics before Pyeonchang to the north was awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Not to be confused with Pyongyang in the actual North.)
  • It is home to one of the most influential film festivals in Asia.
  • In 2009, the Shinsegae Mall surpassed Macy’s flagship store in New York City as the world’s largest shopping mall with a whopping 3 million square feet of retail space. (1 square mile of shopping space per resident?!)
  • During the start of the Korean War, Busan was one of only two cities in South Korea not captured by the North Korean army.

While I traveled to Busan without any expectations on what I would see or experience that would impress, I left with an admiration for the city’s beautiful beaches and impressive bridges. A little more on that here:

The 4 mile long Gwangan Bridge stretches in the distance across one of Busan’s most beautiful beaches, Gwangalli. It bridge is Korea’s first double decker suspension and its design was inspired by the flapping wings of a seagull. In 2014, a colorful nightly light show began after more than 10,000 LEDs were installed.

A guidebook stated that Gwangalli Beach is less attractive because of the bars, restaurants and shops lining the waterfront. I didn’t expect to find serenity in the middle of a city of 3+ million and found the stretch to be entertaining, striking on the eyes and thirst-quenching.

Haeundae is Korea’s largest and most famous beach. It can draw up to 100,000 people during a sweltering summer day. Most Koreans that I talked to described it as chaotic and unappealing. For me, it was a pleasant place for local people watching. 😉

The 2.5 year old Bukhang (Busan Harbor) Bridge is the 2nd longest cable-stayed bridge in Korea. At first glance, cable-stayed bridges look a lot like suspension bridges. However, they are quite different. While a suspension bridge has main cables strung between towers with support cables hanging down below, cable-stayed bridges feature cables running directly from the tower to the deck. The Brooklyn Bridge is the most famous cable-stayed bridge in the world.

Billed as more tranquil than Haeundae and Gwangalli, Songjeong Beach was equally as jam packed with parasols on a 90 degree day.

An ambitious 45 minute trip north of Haeundae Beach via a bus (or two, by accident) reveals beautiful Haedong Yonggungsa Temple clinging to a cliff-side. It offers a bit of respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

While there’s more to Busan, including an art museum seemingly obsessed with bosoms, and an art village with uniquely colorful panoramas, I’ll always remember it as Korea’s city of beaches and bridges.

Instagram Obsesstagram

When I was in New York last week I took a small adventure over to Brooklyn to get cheap Broadway tickets at the TKTS booth which magically never has lines (compared to the Times Square booth where people wait HOURS). Rather than take the dependable, but infamous New York subway back to Manhattan, I decided to do as the tourists do, and as I’ve never done, and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Manhattan Bridge and the Empire State Building from the Brooklyn Bridge

It took a little creative navigation to get from where I was in downtown Brooklyn to the on-ramp and walking path on the bridge, but when I finally found my way I was rewarded with a bustling and beautiful day on one of America’s most famous and iconic landmarks. It was sunny, 60 and I had no reason to complain.

I was snapping pictures left and right with my iPhone and suddenly got the bright idea to fancy up some of my photos with my newly downloaded photo app Instagram, a fun and free iPhone program for putting effects and filters on your snapshots.

At one point I was taking pictures at certain angles and in certain light just to maximize my Instagram potential. I admit, I started to become obsessed with trying to put together the perfect Brooklyn Bridge photo.

Eventually I made it all the way across the bridge, was back in Manhattan (ready to stalk Joy on Foursquare who was in town from Maine) and had more than enough photos of the Brooklyn Bridge for one lifetime, with at least half of those featuring borderline cheesy 1970s discolored and aged out photo filters.

It was a fun artistic distraction and made my walk across the Brooklyn Bridge even more memorable. Forget the fact that I’m now I’m obsessed with Instagram (as you might have noticed from my Broadway photos on Tuesday).