Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival Day! ^______^
Since we had changed our plan the night before and had decided to go to Jinhae later on in the day, we woke up late (-r than usual, but still early) and decided to order room service and enjoy the view of the mountains from our window. Now, we’d gone the room service for breakfast route in Ramada where I had discovered that boiled eggs are 삶은 계란, but I was surprised when this time they asked my how many minutes I’d like to have the eggs boiled. Umm… I don’t really know because I don’t eat boiled eggs? Luckily my mum was there to give me the right answer and we navigated that phone conversation well enough.
After a filling breakfast we walked to the Busan Seobu Bus Terminal (부산서부버스터미날) right opposite our hotel at around 11am, got confused from where exactly to enter the building (it turns out it was from the exit because we were on the back side) but managed to get our tickets to Jinhae easily enough. The tickets are good to use all day on any bus, so you don’t have to worry about missing your bus because you can always take the next one. The bus terminal connects directly to a shopping area, again filled with clothes. After six days, I have realized that fashion and make-up are way up on the shopper’s priority list in Korea.
We hopped on to the 11 o’clock bus and set off on a long but comfy ride to Jinhae. I can’t even name all the places we passed through, but the view from the bus was great.
Once we reached Jinhae, we weren’t quite sure which direction Yeojwacheon 여좌천 was and my maps were behaving oddly, so we stopped at a 7/11, got directions and headed off. As we walked, we came across a large tent-filled area, full of food and random shopping. My mum was only interested in getting a typical 아줌마 hat (she didn’t in the end) and my brother was busy photographing Jinhae’s famous roasting pigs. Not much was halal though, and things that were, were being sold alongside things that weren’t so we decided to play it safe and skip on the food. Instead we wound our ways through the stalls of 번데기, 옥수수, 왈꼬지 and 돼지 towards the stream.
After a while we realized we weren’t sure which direction we were headed in so we decided a lady at one of the stalls. It turned out she had just explained the directions to a Korean couple so she quickly called them and asked if they could lead us there. It was really sweet of her and probably really awkward for them. ㅋㅋㅋ In any case, we’re more of the strolling type than the power walker (which seems to be the norm in Japan and Korea) and after a few times of turning to check if we were still behind them, they went on ahead and we eventually made our way to the stream, armed with some yummy cotton candy.
There were crowds of people at the stream, all armed with that mandatory selfie-stick, busier taking pictures of themselves than their surroundings. I didn’t take many pictures (all through the trip, I realized later, because I was too busy soaking it all in. My favourite moment at the stream was when we sat on a bench by the stream to eat our packed lunch. We were sitting next to a group of 아줌마s dressed in their colourful hiking jackets and desperately waiting for someone to offer to take their picture by the stream. A lovely lady obliged and the next 5 minutes were spent posing adorably for pictures amid reassurances from their photographer that she’d make sure they came out looking pretty. After lunch, we decided to head to Gyeonghwa Station 경화역 but not before mum got her caricature made. ^^
We were hoping to head to the station by bus, but couldn’t get our bearings so we decided to take a taxi instead. The roads were jam packed, with tourists and locals pouring in to enjoy the scenery. The driver dropped us right opposite the entrance to the station and we walked through more food stalls before reaching my mum’s favourite place in the whole trip.
Unlike Yeojwacheon, which was teeming with tourists, Gyeonghwa Station, being more spacious, didn’t feel as crowded, so it made for a leisurely walk along the tracks all the way up to the train. The tracks, while the shot doesn’t capture it, was filled with couples and their tripods, all hoping to get the perfect shot. It was sweet, but also sad- especially when we came across one couple who despite all their best efforts just couldn’t come up with something to make them happy. My brother pointed them out and said it was going to be a do or die day for the young guy, who was apparently in charge of setting up the camera. ㅋㅋㅋ
What I loved most about the station was the number of families that had come out even on a weekday. Unlike Japan, the crowds were filled with toddlers, teenagers and doting parents and grandparents. Mum was willing to spend the whole day sitting there, and my brother was willing to sample all the food there. He managed to find halal shawarmas and then there was sugar cane juice which my mum and my bro had (I avoided it thanks to another crazy incident in the past). Past the food stalls came the train, and all the people clambering to get on or in front to take a shot. We walked past the train and sat down to take a breath, have some strawberries, and enjoy the great atmosphere. We took another detour, past magnolia flowers amid the blossoms and after a good couple of hours decided it was time to head back to Yeojwacheon to see if we could get some seats to watch the opening celebration for the cherry blossom festival.
We took a bathroom break before catching a cab, and at this point I was truly missing the electric toilets from the hotel. Why aren’t these the standard everywhere. sigh It took a rather long time to hail a cab from where we were standing so we decided to cross the street. We managed to get a cab eventually in all the rush and headed straight back to the stream.
It turned out to be a great time to return as there were still plenty of seats in front of the stage for the opening ceremony, so we decided to get some good seats and rest our legs for a while. My mum was the most popular member of the audience because the people giving out balloons decided we didn’t need any but mum needed 3 ^^ Armed with our balloons, we decided it was time to snack on our Click, some mixed nuts and of course our trusty KitKat which had been by far the best purchase we’d made at Dubai Duty Free. ㅋㅋㅋ Mum was feeling a bit under the weather because she hadn’t had a proper lunch and far too much walking, so it was a good thing we took some rest. As we sat, we watched the performers line in one after the other to rehearse and finally the event was underway. The event kicked off with lots of dancers representing different areas coming in and performing. The response was lukewarm and only a couple of people right in the front could be enticed to get up and dance with them. ^^ After the many performances, the on stage performances came in the form of the naval band, the children’s choir and the adult’s choir. The naval band though didn’t get much of a response surprisingly, despite being realllllly good (especially the sax), and we attributed it to the fact that they were singing really old American songs to a really old Korean crowd. I liked the adult choir’s Arirang performance best of all- the women looking elegant in their maroon and white dresses and the men in their suits.
We left after the performances and headed on down to the stream to catch the night view. It was already dark, but the lights were not on yet which made us wonder if we had the right time. We did, of course, and the scores of teenage couples waiting impatiently meant we were at the right place. There was a countdown, a release of balloons and on the lights went. It looked lovely, especially the area with the umbrella canopy, but the crowd meant it was not exactly a place to relax.
We lingered for a while before decided it was the right time to head back to the bus station 진해시외버스터미날. That turned out to be an adventure in itself. We made out way back to the stage area easily enough, after double checking directions from one of the policemen (who maintained that he wasn’t sure but it was probably in that general direction), but finding our way back to the station at night proved more difficult. We had completely lost our bearings and everything looked so different in the dark- even catching a taxi was proving difficult. There were plenty of police officers there, though, doing crowd control and traffic control, so we decided to ask them for directions. They all proved even less helpful than the first one, since most of them are not even residents of Jinhae- they had all been brought in from other places just for the event. -____-
Naver maps had picked a great day to misbehave and Google Maps in Korea are rather useless, so we just kept heading in the same direction until we managed to flag down a lone taxi driver at the roundabout. He told us that we were really close to the station, we just had to walk thataway, but seeing that we were pretty exhausted he was awesome enough to stop and take us there anyway to make sure we didn’t miss the bus. Yayyyyyy! We were right on time and by 8pm we were on the bus back to Busan. It had been pretty warm the whole day (no jackets! Woohoo!) and had only become really chilly after 4pm, enough to get our jackets back on. The bus though was super cozy, with the heaters turned on and the windows white with condensation. By the time we got back, we were all too tired to take up the restaurant owner on his dinner invitation, so my brother went on ahead to get our dinner as take-out while we got changed. We called it a night and made sure we were packed and ready to head to Seoul on Day 7 via KTX.