It was hard to believe that our stay in Seoul had come to an end. There were so many interesting places to visit that our days sped by all too quickly. We enjoyed one last breakfast in the Holiday Inn Express Euljiro which had been an excellent choice for our stay in Seoul. Well equipped comfortable rooms, complimentary breakfast and just a few steps from a metro station ticked all the boxes for us.
It was around 9.30 a.m. when we checked out of the hotel ready to embark on the second part of our South Korean adventure. Although the Euljiro 3 metro station was literally on the doorstep, we crossed the road so that we could use Exit 12 (opposite) as this entrance had a lift. Getting to Seoul station took a little longer with our luggage but wasn’t too difficult.
We arrived into the station at 10.15 a.m. timing our arrival to perfection as five minutes later our KTX train to Busan appeared on the board. This gave us plenty of time to stow our luggage at the end of the carriage and settle into our reserved seats before our 11.00 a.m. departure. Before leaving home we had bought a 2 day flexible Korail Pass valid for one month, costing 91,000 Won per person (£63.60) which offers good value for overseas visitors. A two day flexible pass for one passenger costs 102,000 Won but reduces to 91,000 Won if a party of between 2 and 5 people are travelling together.
After purchasing the pass, tickets can then be selected on-line up to one month before departure. Using the website to book tickets was easy and although passengers are allocated reserved seats these cannot be selected.
We were fortunate to find our seats were facing forward, could be reclined and had plenty of leg room. Our journey to South Korea’s second city on the south east coast took 2 hours 45 minutes, stopping several times. The train was very smooth and it didn’t feel as if we were travelling so fast. We enjoyed viewing the ever changing landscape from the windows as we whizzed along. Overhead screens displayed travel information, train speed and were interspersed with occasional travel videos. Neither buffet cars nor at seat trolley services are provided but vending machines are located at the end of each carriage for drinks and light snacks.
As the train edged into Busan it started drizzling and as we disembarked the air felt cooler than in Seoul. Passing through the modern station we picked up a metro map and some leaflets from the tourist information kiosk. We then trundled our heavy luggage along to the metro station which is located a short distance from the station.
The T Money cards we had purchased on our arrival in Seoul were also valid on Busan’s public transport network so we had topped up our balances before departure from Seoul. It was then just six stops on one line to Seomyeon Station followed by a five minute walk to our accommodation for the next five nights at the Arban Hotel.
This independently owned hotel is located in the heart of the vibrant Seomyeon district and occupies the upper floors of a tall building. Taking the lift to the reception which is located on the 13th floor we were attended to promptly and were soon settling into our deluxe room on the 10th floor. The room was spacious with a 55″ television at the foot of the huge bed, a large illuminated wardrobe and numerous drawers for our belongings. I like hotel rooms with plenty of storage as so often this is lacking necessitating us to leave some things in our suitcases.
The marble bathroom contained a separate shower room and a jacuzzi bath visible through glass from the main bedroom but with a roller blind if one preferred privacy. There was also an electronic toilet with heated seat and numerous other options similar to the one we had in our room in Taipei last year.
After unpacking our belongings we set off for a walk through Seomyeon which was filled with shops, cafes and street food vendors. From one of the stalls we were tempted into buying some large fried prawns which were freshly prepared and tasted delicious. After our tasty snack we continued on to the Lotte Department Store for a spot of shopping and a visit to its roof top terrace which was unsurprisingly deserted due to the continuing drizzle.
Later, we found a very attractive small restaurant where we shared a huge dish of steaming Bulgogi hot pot, a Korean style marinated beef dish accompanied with numerous side dishes including the ever present kimchi (fermented vegetables) which I was by now getting quite used to.
After returning to the hotel I relaxed in the jacuzzi bath adding the strawberry coloured grains provided which produced pink bubbles. We then ended the day with bedtime drinks whilst watching the news on our huge television.