May 12, 2016

From Busan to HwaGae Cherry Blossom Festival

I spent my 3rd day in Korea in the rural side of Hadong. I ventured out in seek of the HwaJae Cherry Blossoms Festival and to seek out the famous marriage road !

 

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How to get thereConfused smile:
Start at Busan Seobu Bus Terminal. Buy a 13,300 ticket for HwaGae Bus Terminal. The journey should take you around 2hours 30 mins. Yes, it's a Long, Long ride. 

Bus timetable:  http://eng.hadong.go.kr/sub/05_01_02.asp

Official website: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=700651 

 

As a tourist who speaks no Hangul and barely did her research, my adventure is no short of mistakes and hilarious antics. Continue reading to learn how a potato like me managed to reach Hwagae.

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My bus was more than 30 mins later so I hung around the terminal, checked out their department stores and then Daiso. I was so engrossed in shopping that by the time I looked at my time, it was 11:41! Mad dash to platform 8! Thank goodness I can sprint! 

 

The bus was significantly less crowded than the bus to Jinhae. They were nice, comfortable and clean.

 

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I took a cross city bus from Busan Seobu bus terminal to Hadong. The bus ticket cost 11,000 won and takes roughly 2 hours. But I made a grave mistake here! Even though HwaGae is part of Hadong but the cherry blossom festival is nowhere near the Hadong Bus terminal (also known as Daesung Bus Terminal). Instead of Hadong (Daesung bus terminal), I really should be going to HwaGae bus terminal instead.

 

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I alighted at Hadong Bus Terminal expecting a bazaar but found an old and small terminal full of matured citizens who barely spoke English. And guess what? I wasn't aware of my mistake even up till this point! God however, was on my side! Lucky me! 

 

While I was loitering around the bus terminal trying to figure out the bus time tables, the kind bus driver of my previous bus (Busan to Hadong) spotted me and dragged me to the ticket counter. I had asked him about the HwaGae cherry blossom festival before alighting from his bus and since I screwed up so many times during the journey, I must have left an impression. If you're wondering what I did, well ... I nearly missed my bus twice (oops). Once at Busan Bus Terminal and another when we stopped for a rest at one of the pit stops hehe. 

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This is my bus from Busan to Hadong.

On hindsight, everything seemed really hilarious. I came out from the Pit stop toilet and saw a bus that looked like my bus slowly moving off while I stared at it in confusion, wondering if I should chase after it. The driver was probably thinking of the same thing because the bus was moving at a snail's pace while the entire bus looked on haha.

 

With the help of the driver, I bought another ticket to HwaGae for 2200 won. The journey took another 25 minutes. 

 

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This is the tiny HwaGae Terminal. Last bus back to Busan is 6:45pm from here. For a more comprehensive guide on travelling from Busan to HwaGae, I recommend you check out Happydalki. Her information are so precise!

 

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From here all, the Hwagae Cherry Blossom Festival is impossible to miss. Just cross the bridge or follow the crowd and you'll find yourself in the middle of Hwagae Street Market.

 

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According to Korea's Tourism website, this market used to be the top 5 in the country until 50 years ago. Even though it is not as big as it used to be, the historic and cultural vibe oozing from these old wood is still mesmerizing. While it is mostly a market place for purchase of fresh produce and seaweeds, there are also a few shops selling traditional art and craftworks.

 

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The abundance of variety in the seaweeds being sold there was an eye opening feast for me!

 

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And where there is people, there is food! Restaurants and snack stores catering to the tourists can also be found though there seemed to just be limited amount of restaurants. Local specialties such as gukbap (rice and soup) , Dotorimuk (Acorn starch jelly) and Jaecheopguk (marsh clam soup) can be expected at the local restaurants.

 

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Korean Popped grain crackers were phenomenally good! Crispy, sweet and fragrant all at the same time! I had decided against buying it because it was so bulky and I didn’t have anymore space in my backpack but on hindsight, that was a poor decision!

 

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This vendor was like a jack of all trade. Not only was he selling BBQ meat on sticks, he was also selling ice cream, candy floss, baked corn, egg tarts, roasted Gingko nuts and that dubious insect snack. I really wanted to try the roasted gingko nuts since you don’t find them very often but …. I didn’t. And true enough, I never saw them again for the rest of my trip. Great work there Kaika –_-. Have you tried those before? how did they taste?

 

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I didn't step into any restaurants despite by growling tummy because I didn't want to waste time eating. I instead got myself some ice cream hehehe. This “J” shaped ice cream cost me 3000won. I was surprised the cone stayed crispy till the end though I wasn’t particularly impressed by the ice cream.

 

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Other than food there were also handicrafts and …

 

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………………………… potions of mystery. Can someone please tell me what those are xD????

 

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The place was overrun by Ahjumas, Ahjussis and families. And these Ahjumas (middle age aunties) were absolutely adorable! They somehow cajoled a friend up to sing a song for them (think Karaoke booth) and then they started dancing along enthusiastically. I’ve yet to see a group of aunties and uncles do that in any other country XD.

 

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Take a stroll down memory lane with this memorial plaque that tells the history of the place.

 

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Apparently, the Cherry Blossom path should be going towards the direction of Ssanggyesa Buddhist Temple. I wasn’t sure where to go after exploring the Street Market and ended up going arbitrary. I think I was following some Ahjuma tourists. The tourist map above proved no help for this english speaking tourist.

 

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On hindsight, this road is probably the direction I should have taken. I was probably put off by the insane amount of cars and decided to run the opposite way. And I found myself at Namdodaegyo Bridge. I promptly crossed the bridge instead of following the other tourist because I realise they were all hopping onto their travel coach –__-|||.

 

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Not sure what this sign means but I snapped a photo of it anywhere to hopefully, give me some location information in the future. Perils of a traveller who doesn’t understand the local language. Okay, after some coincidental google work, I found out that this signboard is directing to the HwaGae Street Market. The one I came from.

 

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Despite the fact that it wasn’t the famed Cherry Blossom tunnel, tihe lonely path I took was still spectacularly beautiful with fully bloomed cherry blossom trees on both sides!

 

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With exception to the occasional cars, the path was basically empty!

 

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Okay, there’s also the occasional cyclist hehe.

 

Since there was no one to judge me, I decided to levitate like the Superheroine (wanabe) I am.

 

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I finished the entire path within 10 minutes by levitating there.

 

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Just kidding. I didn’t want to scare any innocent bystanders so I decided to walk after a while =)

 

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Spring is also the harvest season for Chestnut! And I managed to find one with all the nuts intact! One of it fell when I accidentally dropped it because those pricks were such a bit*h!

 

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So much sakura petals on the floor!

 

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Spotted a small orchid with a bunch of these white flowers growing on small trees. I wonder what they are.

 

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We never know what lies ahead of us but the only thing we can do is forage ahead bravely with courage and love.

 

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I didn’t finished walking down the path since it didn’t looked like it was going anywhere near civilisation. So I retraced my steps after a while and the entire stroll took me nearly 3 hours. Yep, I was on my feet a lot everyday.

 

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Since my stomach was rumbling, I decided to buy myself a snack before dinner at HwaGae Street Market. Spent 3000 Won on this fried potato swirl. Sadly this stick has lost all it’s crunch and I ended up throwing it away because my teeth could hardly gnaw through them. 

 

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I wish I could had had some local seafood (even though I hate mussels) but luxuries like these are not suitable for a lone traveller. Eating is better with company!

 

I took the last bus back to Busan Seobu Bus Terminal and had dinner at a Pojangmacha(Food Wagon) outside the Terminal. It was my first Korea Food Wagon eating experience and I was mighty excited (and mighty hungry)!

 

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This particular store goes by an honesty policy. You tell the store keeper what you ate and pay for it after you are done. I had a bowl of spicy Toppoki and fish cakes (2 of each). I topped it off with 2 more skewers of Toppoki and fish sausage thingy (500 won each). I couldn't understand the menu and payment option so I boldly asked the guy beside me for help. Thank goodness his English was perfect and he was kind enough to share his knowledge with me! The ahjuma was also pretty nice to me even though she didn’t speak an ounce of English. You might notice from my previous entry that I have a soft spot for Toppoki. And nobody does it better than the Koreans! The consistency of the chilli pepper paste, the fish cakes and the chewiness of the rice cakes was almost always perfect! My meal amounted to 3,500 Won.

 

And that pretty much marks the end of my lovely day. Once again, I managed to survive and had an enjoyable trip due to the kindness of people I met. Angels like them inspire me to step up and be a kind stranger to someone else too. I hope this blog entry inspires you to pay it forward too!

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