It’s around 5pm on a Saturday and a large group of us decide to take the train from Gyeongju to Busan. We were drinking the night before so we were in no hurry to get there. The train takes about 1 hour and a half to reach Haeundae Station, so some of us could catch up on some much needed sleep. The rest of us decide to go in the group section of the train.
On on of the stops an old man moves to the group section and sits beside us to strike up a conversation. His English is not bad, and even though I want to speak Korean he keeps on speaking English to all of us. Then he takes a look at my friend’s soju bottle and decides he wants some. My friend, I’ll call him Same Same. He has a shirt with “same same” on it. Same Same tries to pour the old man a glass but the old man won’t take it for free. He’s pulling coins out of his pocket to pay for his drink. We’ve lived in Korea for quite awhile now and we know about etiquette. We’re not about to make an old man pay for his drink when many old men have paid for ours in bars across the country. So instead, I go ahead and give him the cup, and motion to him with my hand that he can pour more whenever he wants. My Korean isn’t that good and I’m sure there was some misunderstanding. He took the bottle and emptied it into his cup. That’s how I lost the soju bottle, which wasn’t even mine.
That episode aside we arrive in Haeundae. Two of our friends, Bass Guy and V Man decide to hit the casino. The rest of us wait in an Irish Pub just down the street. It’s really a walk from Haeundae station, towards the beach, and then right. A quick North Korean beer later, (yes it was a product of North Korea) and we decide to head to the KyungSung University area.
I don’t think I need to explain too much about this area. It’s in front of a university so there are bars, clubs, and lounges left and right. If you want to have a party, this is one of the places to go in Busan.
I almost forgot to mention who’s birthday it was. She’s quite a mix of ethnicity being Irish, Indian, and South African. It was her birthday, let’s call her Sulkkun (술꾼) which means heavy drinker. I think it’s the Irish part in her. She doesn’t know Korean, but she knows so many people. As a result she’s able to find hidden gems and get a different glimpse of Korea.
For dinner, we decide to go to this place called Owl (부엉이집). I’ve been with her there once before so I’m able to lead and pick up a few of her friends while she’s busy. I know, I’m such a good friend. It’s hard to find. You have to go up stairs that look like they’re from The Jungle Book, past a restaurant immediately at the top, and further back to finally get to Owl. If you didn’t know this place you wouldn’t find it. They serve great food there and the staff is more than amazing. They are more than interesting with their tattoos that seem to rebel against the norm in Korea. They are also genuinely nice because they seem to be interested in cultures, and enjoying life. More so than being concerned about bringing customers in, which is what I see from a lot of other places.I ranted a bit there, but the restaurant is really good. So…you should go there.
After this we head to AlmostFamous, a basement lounge/club steps away from the subway station. The beats here are usually good and you’ll get a lot of funky and retro hits. This is the third round now, still going strong. It’s Sulkkun’s birthday anyway, we would have to do it right wouldn’t we?4th Round
Now after this, yes you read that right, AFTER this we go to 15 Feet Under. Since Sulkkun has all the connections she knows this place well before anyone else does. It’s an after hours club a little down the ways, hidden in an unsuspecting stretch of road. In fact it’s not even close to any other bar or club in KyungSung. On the way my friend Princess and I decide to play a game to win prizes for the birthday girl. We already went and looked around for a present in KyungSung, which is quite difficult considering it was past midnight. What did we win…a lighter, a hat, and some sexy underwear. Yes…underwear from a vending machine.15 Feet Under is a very different club, if you sleep its fine, as long as there are people dancing, drinking, and having a good time.
They like to play psychedelic music. Everyone here is a little more open and free spirited. It’s easy to meet and make new friends as London Boy and I try our luck with the crowd. The people of Owl know the owners of 15 Feet Under, and it makes quite an interesting scene. This night no shirts came off, guys or girls. While the sun is rising some people start to fall asleep or desperately try to stay dancing on their feet with a beer in their hands.We’re ready to hit the hay, look for a motel, or just head home. We usually don’t prepare because we have no idea what a night will end up being. It’s usually easy to find a place to sleep in Korea anyway. With that said, we finally make our way out and the sun hits us like …like a wave. A little refreshing but not really. We’re outside, debating as always what to do as our friends are still drinking at the Family Mart down the street. After much debate, and I mean a lot, it’s decided, one more place. She convinced us, because it’s her birthday, and that I must go to this place before I leave Korea.
We had to Gwanganli Beach for another after hours club, let’s call this the after after hours club because I can’t even remember the name anymore. I’m sure it’s already 6 or 7 am at this point. People are jogging, starting their Sundays. Some of us make it to the club, which was just a room, with blocked windows and pumping music so you wouldn’t know what time it was. As we approach it looks like just another bar, with people smoking outside, but once you step inside it’s like Saturday never finished. The others at the beach decide they want to get in the water. It’s September and the weather isn’t that warm. I’m thinking it’s the fatigue that’s making us do stupid things. Trying to be young and spontaneous, a local couple decide to play in the water. We think they’ve had way too much to drink because it’s Sunday morning, it’s cold, and they’re in there with all their clothes on.The smarter ones of our group decide to join in, kind of, just roll up the pants and go in knee deep, it can’t be that bad. No it was that bad. The old lady motions to me that she wants to push Princess into the water. I’m on the beach so I say go ahead thinking I’m safe with absolutely no consequences. Princess might as well go all in if she’s gonna do that. So this old lady pushes Princess in the water soaking her from head to toe. It’s too bad she’ll have to wear all the wet clothes on the way back.But I spoke too soon. The old lady who was once a friend betrays me. She teams up with Princess, and I tell them to wait. I throw my phone onto the beach and luckily I can take off my shirt. 5…4…3…2…1 and I’m in the water. My nice, clubbing jeans from Buckaroo are soaking. If you’ve ever worn wet jeans you’ll know how heavy they get. It’s cold, i’m wet, I might as well swim for a bit.
We finally come to our senses, somewhat, and they decide to go eat breakfast. Do they know not I’m soaking? I don’t know how they can eat being wet and all. With much debate we decide to eat, I barely ate anything because I was so uncomfortable. Princess paid for our meal which was really nice of her, and we take a taxi to the KTX station. People on the train were wondering why we’re soaking wet, we look like…well, we WERE swimming. Small talk and a short ride later we finally arrive in Gyeongju. Home, time to change clothes and sleep.