Korea Diary | Summer Day at Haeundae (Day 28, Part 2)
Being the coastal city that Busan is, we couldn't have left without visiting the beach. Haeundae Beach 해운대해수욕장 is the most popular sandy spot for local and foreign tourists alike.
It was a strange sighting at first. It wasn't like the water was any bluer or clearer or the sand was a completely different color. (Don't get me wrong, compared to the stuff we have in NYC, Haeundae was beautiful in terms of water and sand quality. But it is no Maldives of course.) This beach was still nothing like I had ever seen before. Coney Island can get really crowded in the summer once it gets hot enough. Yet umbrellas are typically sparse and unorganized because everything is personally brought.
Sun umbrellas at Haeundae were all so neatly lined, row after row. Sections of different colored umbrellas next to one another, each color corresponding to a different beer company. All umbrellas had lounging chairs that were perfectly shaded. To my understanding, these were all rentable during a period of the day. The furniture were neatly tidied up once it hit early evening hours.
Like how food deliveries can be made to people in parks, I believe the same could be done at the beach. If I remember correctly, we also saw people walking around all the umbrellas advertising for restaurants (most likely chicken).
For my friends and I, we opted to go to the nearby restaurant street to grab some eats. I don't remember the name of the area exactly, if there was a sign, but it was hard to miss. There were many shops with water tanks out front that held all kinds of fresh seafood. Some vendors sold snacks and drinks. We were especially intrigued by the black eggs and decided to give it a try. In Korean it was called Myeongpoom Goo-oon Gyeran 명품구운계란, the literal translation is luxury roasted/baked egg. I am not 100% sure what they do to get the shells such an intense black color, but I think it tasted like any boiled egg. Maybe just a bit more chewy/rubbery? At 2 for ₩1,000 it was worth a try just for pure curiosity.
Even though we saw all those shops with tons of the seafood, the 3 of us ended up getting a meaty dish instead. Dwaeji gukbap 돼지국밥 or pork rice soup was supposedly another Busan specialty dish. As with most other soups that are milky in color, it usually means bones have been stewed for hours in order to achieve the desired consistency. When the hot bowl of soup arrives, it only comes with soup, thinly sliced tender pork, and scallions inside it. Along side the main dish, we were given seasoned chives, salted little shrimps, a peppery sauce, ssamjang (mix of dwenjang - soy bean paste and gochujang - red pepper paste), raw garlic, raw onions, raw green hot peppers, kimchi, and most importantly rice.
It was up to the person eating to put in as much or as little fixins as desired. But the thing that makes the dish was the rice. It needs to go in for the the dish to be really gukbap. This was my first time having this particular dish and I remember it being pretty darn delicious. The little salted shrimp with a piece of the tender pork was the perfect combination. The thing I would suggest is, don't be heavy-handed with the condiments because everything is salty on its own. A little of each will go a long way. Another must try if you ever visit Busan. Otherwise I would have preferred more meat and more rice for all the liquid there was.
Busan's Sea Life Aquarium was another one of the city's attractions. It was a nice escape in Haeundae since we had spent the entire morning and early afternoon in the sweltering sun. If I had to choose again, I may not have gone to both the COEX Aquarium in Seoul and Sea Life in Busan though. Both were pretty pricey (~₩20,000-₩25,000) and had more or less the same kind of animals.