From Seoul, we took a train to Busan (pronounced more like Poo-san... 부산). We could have taken one of those super high speed trains that go 300km/hr... but it was a little bit too pricey. We just went on the slower one... but it was still pretty fast (150km).
But before going on, we decided to get some eats at Lotteria. It's a fast food joint here (and also in Japan, as I found out later), but it's a little bit healthier. It also has some Korean influence with bulgogi (korean spicy beef), and kimchi burgers.
I got the rice Kimchi burger. Instead of a bun, it's sticky rice. Also, instead of fries, you get corn. I thought it would be bland and untastey... but it's actually really good. After a while, you forget that you don't have a bun.
When we arrived in Busan, we walked for a long time before finding a hotel. We wanted a place near Haeundae Beach. Well, it then started to rain, so we just grabbed a cheap "love" motel about 2 blocks away from the beach. These motels are actually really nice (marble floors, jet bathtub, big bed, dvd players, etc...) and only cost 50 bucks a night. The only problem is that these motels are setup for young couples (It's common to live at home till your mid 20's), and well... for cheaters. Because of that, I sometimes question the cleanliness of the place. Anyways. Busan in right at the tip of the peninsula of Korea, and has many many Harbors, and a few beaches. The only problem is that it didn't stop raining, so we never got a beach day in our time here. Maybe for the best. Here's a beach day in August: http://coolstuff.floristone.com/china-beach.html
At night, we tried to find a place to eat. Along the beach, the seafood restaurants were insanely expensive... sometimes more than 150 dollars! Not even close to the Seoul prices. We then stopped a lady walking and she personally showed us an area with cheaper food (and still delicious). It was very gracious of her because the walk was about 30 minutes from where we were.
We went into one place that we thought was a restaurant, but it was a karaoke/restaurant. You are given your own private room with an HD tv and a karaoke remote control. You then can eat and sing, something Koreans love to do here. Here is Sohee singing (She's gonna kill me for posting this!):
The food was really decent too. You get a ton of side dishes. Notice the tambourines in the picture below. I started using those after the first bottle of soju. The big remote at the top is what you point at the screen to choose your song. It's super awesome.
The fish market is also pretty crazy in Busan. There are so many different kinds of seafood. Some just looked liked odd creatures to the Saskatchewan eye.
Also near the fish market is some of the harbor. It's really crappy out in this pic. Not too cold, but rainy and depressing weather. Below, you can see the one of the many bridges in the background. It's hard to tell in this pic, but it's actually really cool and it lights up in many different colours.
Anyways, we couldn't stay out too late cause we had to catch a plane the next day for Osaka. Had to wake up at 5am. That really super fun.
You might be asking why we decided to go to Osaka and not Tokyo. Well if you go to Tokyo, there's not much else except Tokyo. Plus it's crazy expensive there. In Osaka, you are a short train ride to: Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, etc...
So, we hit up our hotel, which is only 5000 yen a night ($50 dollars a night)... not bad for Japan. Even though it was clean, nice, had internet, TV, AC, etc... it was tiny. At first we were a little bit scared, cause well... I'll let the video explain..
So it was a little small. But it was comfy. The first place we hit up was DotonBori. It's in the Namba district of Osaka and is probably considered the Heart of the city. I have to use a night photo first, cause it's the only one I have of the sign. Try not to get confused chronologically.
Some food unique to Japan is Takoyaki. It's fried Octopus balls, and it's amazingly delicious. It was also crazy how they made it. It's just a pan and they keep rotating it into a ball with a large toothpick. This dude was seriously doing 50 at a time and was likely a ninja in his off hours.
We all know that Korea's vice is drinking alcohol. In Japan, not as many people are drinking, but everyone is gambling. It's difficult to explain the below picture, but try and think of it as pinball/anime/plinko (from the price is right) slot machines. You put in some money and you get these metal marble things. You then shoot the marbles (manually or automatically) using the dial on the right. If you win, you get more marbles (AKA: Money). These things are literally everywhere. They even put them in kids arcades, but I didn't see any kids playing them. The honour system actually works here I guess.
At night time is when Osaka really shines. Pun intended. There are even more lights here than in Seoul. The most famous image in all of Osaka... the Glico running man:
This is probably the biggest Indiana Jones poster I have ever seen:
Asashi sign. Asashi is Japanese beer. It's good. You should try it.
Sohee looks so calm in front of the madness of lights and people.
Ok. Next up we went to Kobe. Kobe has a harbor and some pretty cool views. We took a train there (again, just an avg speed train). It all seems like one city, because the trains look exactly like the subway, and there was no way to indicate that we were out of the city (Wheat fields were not present). There was still tall buildings the entire route there. Kinda odd compared to Saskatchewan. lol.
Anyways... To the harbor. There were some amazing views here.
The hotel in the background here is called "Oriental Hotel". Cool architecture, but not a very original name.
But again... the awesome views were at night. Something about the lights reflecting off the water. I don't think I have to explain to much. It was breathtaking...
The next day, we were supposed to go to Kyoto to see some temples n' stuff. That didn't happen though. We heard from a fellow Regina dude that they were closed for construction or something. He suggested that we go to Deer Park in Nara. This is a lot different from the Deer Park golf course in Yorkton. This is a park in the middle of the city and there are a ton of Deer around just chilling and mingling with the people. They are super nice and totally tame.
They sometimes just leave the park and go to the sidewalks and streets. There's a dude selling "deer food" and you can feed them. It's crazy. I was kinda scared of them at first, because I have heard that they have stomped people to death. Plus those antlers don't look so cuddly. But I soon get brave enough to pet one:
Also in this deer park was this crazy high temple. It's probably why the deers are so tame and nice. They are Buddhist monks.
All in all, Japan is an awesome country. The people are friendly, the streets and air are clean, the food is great and there's plenty to see and do. I do have one issue. Transportation is crazy expensive. Even what you think would be cheap (subway), isn't.Maybe I'm just spoiled by the prices in Korea, but I think I spent over half my money on transportation. The Subway in the GOA (Greater Osaka Area) is like 5 bucks for a one way trip... and if you have to transfer lines... guess what, you have to pay again. Not cool. In Seoul, the subway costs a dollar, and you can transfer for free to other subways and buses. So that means that you can ride the subway and bus all day long if you transfer quick enough.
Well that's Japan everyone. I'll end with something funny... and Seoul has this too, but I have a Japanese pic ready. What you see below is the line for women-only subway cars. Only women can board these cars. This is to prevent that old Japanese guy who has had too much sake try the intentional boob graze on a crowded subway. Respect women y'all.