Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Busan International Film Festival 2012: Day One

The Busan International Film Festival village sign
A couple weeks ago, Jackie and I had the pleasure of heading down to Busan in order to attend the Busan International Film Festival. Neither of had been to Busan yet and did not know what to expect of the city or the festival. We would be pleasantly surprised by both.

Seoul Station Waiting

Early in the morning, before any cars were on the road, we caught a cab to Seoul Station. We had tickets for the first KTX train and figured we should get there early. Well, it is not nearly as difficult to catch a train as it is a plane. In fact, there was no security at all. You walk down to the train and just wait there. A sign says to make sure you have a ticket before you go to the loading area. "We trust you." Interesting use of guilt to stop criminals. A pigeon hung out with us while we waited.

Inside Seoul Station from the second floor
Jackie waiting for the KTX
A pigeon cold chillin' inside Seoul Station

Riding the KTX and Arriving in Busan

The train is comfortable. We had seats to ourselves just like on an airplane. Some of the other seats faced each other. Four people would sit around a table on those. While we wanted to sleep, the train never turned the lights off or dimmed them. It made it difficult, though not impossible, to sleep. Another negative was the wifi. There is a limit on how much data you can use, and we found it to be too easy to use all of. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant ride in the mostly darkened morning.

Busan is the last stop for the KTX. We picked up a tourist map at the Busan Station and looked for the area around our hostel and the film festival area. Luckily, it was all rather close to one another

It was nice and cloudy as we walked outside. The train station opens up to a beautiful view of the city. A fountain in the plaza creates a nice atmosphere for the first time you arrive in Busan. It is very welcoming.

Jackie taking photos of Busan from the steps of the Busan Station
Good morning, Busan!
People watching the fountain at Busan Station
The fountain at Busan Station
We went down to the subway station and found out we could not refill our T-Money cards (the transit card for buses and subways in Seoul) down there, though we could use it to ride. We could, however, purchase a CashBee card and refill that. So we did that instead. While we tried to decide how to get to our hostel, an old man in a uniform came up to us and asked us in perfect, unaccented English where we were headed. He then gave us instructions on how to get there from memory. He even knew how many stops to go and what the name was! It seemed like he was a paid employee hired to help people get around Busan. It was a big help and we were grateful to meet him. Busan is such a cool place!

Mr. Egg Hostel

A short walk from our subway stop was our hostel, Mr. Egg Hostel. What a great name! The place is cute and homey. It is a bit hidden in an alley, but once you find it, you are near shopping, eclectic food, bars and the beach. It is all within walking distance. So far had we lucked out all over the place.

The alley where you can enter Mr. Egg Hostel in Busan
Checking in was very easy, everyone spoke great English. Our room was clean and not too small. It had bunk beds and about the same sized bathroom as my apartment. There was also a television, but we never watch tv when on vacation. The one downside was the view. The view out the window was of a concrete wall. It did not really matter because we were not planning on spending much time in the room. A good-sized kitchen was available, but we did not use it. Along the walls in the hallways you get to see messages from former guests at Mr. Egg Hostel.

The fun walls at Mr. Egg Hostel
The map of where the previous guests at Mr. Egg Hostel were from
The view once you walked into the room.
Our beds

Gecko's in Busan

Then we needed some food. A ten minute walk later we were at the beach and had numerous styles of food to choose from. We decided to eat at Gecko's. In Jeju Island, we had gone to Gecko's and really enjoyed it. The place opened right when we arrived and before long we were eating decent, though disappointing compared to the Jeju location's, burgers.

Gecko's bacon cheeseburger
An awesome cat hung out while we ate.
There are many stray cats all over Korea.
After brunch, we took a walk along Haeundae Beach and decided to go get some movie tickets. Unfortunately, the tickets were sold out for nearly every movie by the time we got there. Here is a tip for next year's festival: either go to the ticket office right when it opens or buy them online in advance. Lesson learned.

The morning at Haeundae Beach
There were not many people at Haeundae Beach to start with.
Mostly people feeding birds.

Busan Museum of Art

While we were disappointed to not be able to see any movies, however, Busan has so many other things to do. Jackie and I love going to art museums, we have been to art museums in El Paso, Portland, Seoul and Jeju Island, so we decided to go visit the one in Busan too. A short subway ride later, we arrived at the Busan Museum of Art.

Walking in to the Busan Museum of Art
The park outside the Busan Museum of Art
Looking up after entering the museum
The museum showcased many modern art pieces, including many interactive exhibits. Many of the exhibits allow you to walk around inside them. Everything is mostly on the second floor, but we spent a few hours checking everything out. There are plenty of pieces to check out. I enjoyed the photography and film based ones especially.





This film of statues played in this darkened room. I loved it.

An Evening at Haeundae Beach

After the museum, we headed to the beach once again to hang out. The BIFF village was right there and many people were walking about. With no plans and no movies to see, we could have chosen to do anything. The aquarium is right on the beach. However, I looked up reviews on my phone and the consensus seemed to be that it is average at best. It also costs a lot, so we decided against it. Instead, we hung out at the beach until heading to a bar to eat dinner (a great dinner actually).

Haeundae Beach at dusk
People watching at the beach.
The BIFF village at Haeundae Beach

The Pacific Ocean to the south of us, looking at Haeundae Beach at night.
And with that, our day ended. It was a fun time even though we saw no movies. The next day would be short because we would have to catch our train home, but we would get to see a couple films before the day was done.

[You can find Part Two right over HERE. We get to see a couple movies even!]
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