We left Japan on the 7th of August, by ferry. Buying tickets at the Fukuoka ferry terminal was quite straightforward, except that we didn’t have enough cash anymore to pay the fuel surcharge which could not be paid by credit card, so we had to walk to the next Post Office to get some cash.
The ferry was nice, economy class was separated into several tatami rooms (actually, not really tatami but carpet). We shared our compartment with a mother with her little girl who kept wrapping up her Snoopy into pieces of cloth, a buddhist woman, a young korean woman, and an elderly man (japanese I believe) who first commented on our Japanese boxed lunches, then kept on talking to himself before falling asleep and snoring basically all the way to Busan. When he woke up he went on talking to himself a bit, got up, farted with a lot of noise and smell, and went to smoke.
Miguel has already written about the events at arrival which kept us there for about an hour. It was already dark when we made it into the center, but finding a motel room is never a problem here.
The next day was very hot so we thought it would be nice to go to one of the beaches. Our guidebook said that Haeundae Beach was crowded but we had to see it by ourselves. Well, it was crowded. Almost no space between the umbrellas, and hundreds of people in the water, mostly using these yellow inflatable rings. Forget about swimming, but the water was too shallow anyway and the coastguards wouldn’t let anyone go very far anyway (my theory for the moment is that a lot of people here don’t know how to swim, but I might be wrong…).
So, no swimming this time.
The next day we went to visit a temple and hiked along a fortress (basically a long wall on a few hills that long ago served to hold back the invading Japanese). After a steep climb we arrived on top, and from there it was a nice walk, although there was a lot of wind and fog, but this also made for a special atmosphere with all the green foliage.
Being a bit tired of big cities we went on to Jinju where we visited the fortress, one of the more important ones in Korea. It contains several temples and buildings and a museum (that was closed), all surrounded by a wall. We enjoyed the colourful temples but it was very hot and sticky, so we also spent a certain amount of time in shops (air-conditioned, of course).
We also had incredibly spicy chicken which made us sweat and cry (and have you ever had to eat bony chicken pieces like wings with chopsticks? You’re not supposed to use your hands to touch food in Korea….). Our stomachs started to fell the always spicy food….