Sunday, December 14, 2014

Barely Busan Day1: Going around Taejongdae Park on the Danubi Train

On Day 1 of our Barely Busan sight-seeing we were off to Taejongdae Park. It is a natural park with magnificent cliffs on the southermost tip of the island of Yeongdo-gu. It was named after the 29th king of Silla Dynasty during 57 BC to 935 AD King TaeJong Mu-Yeol. It was said that he has traveled to many places but it was at Taejongdae Park that he enjoyed shooting arrows. It is also designated as Scenic Site No.17 with the sea cliff, thick forest and blue ocean overlooking Oryuk Island and sometimes even Tsushima Island (part of Japan). We love beautiful landscapes so this destination has to be among the firsts on our list of places to visit.

It took us more than an hour to travel from our hotel to Taejongdae Park taking the train from Haeundae Station (green, Line 2) to Jungang Station (orange, Line 1) transferring at Seomyeon Station - a total of 24 stops, costing us about 1500 won (T-money can be used in Busan trains and buses). We took the exit for the Coastal Ferry Terminal and got confused with directions as we walked out to the streets. From the bus stop we took bus 101 (blue) and 19 stops or so later we were at the Taejongdae Terminus. We had lunch at CU and then walked to the park's entrance which was just across the street.

The area around Taejongdae Terminus looked touristy enough - several eating places and souvenir shops as well as bus stop for the city tour bus. You will never go hungry nor bored in this place. 

From the park entrance, we walked further uphill to get to the ticket office. I'd say you have to be very careful walking up the slope because it is steep. We saw one of the Danubi trains parked along the slope and were wondering if it picks up passengers on the way up. Unfortunately, it doesn't. When we got to the ticket booth we were discussing whether or not we should take the train because we were not sure whether it's a hop on/hop off type. When we found out it was, and looking at the map the park was about 6-7km stroll, we decided Danubi train it was. I've read that it adds to the experience so why not? Danubi train tickets cost 1,500 won ($1.78) for adults and 600 won ($0.71) for children. Very much affordable.

By 12:30pm we were already boarding our Danubi Train. Ira was pretty excited about the train ride. We had the "cabin" all by ourselves.

The word "danubi" in Korean means admiring the scenery, crisscrossing the entire place. It goes on a 4.3km circular route where passengers can stop at any station and board the next train. Since we were already there a few hours later than planned, I had to check what attractions were in each of the stations and chose which stations we would stop in so we could maximize our experience and appreciation of the natural scenery. 

From the departure station, the train headed uphill and we could see the lush forest on our left while overlooking the sea on the right.  Riding the Danubi Train was like going on a very slow roller coaster ride as the train went further up and then made its way down and then up again. Along the way we saw some visitors actually walking along the side of the road. The probably wanted to have a more leisurely walk around the park and would like to have more frequent stops. They also probably have more energy and were well-prepared for the long and strenuous walk.
We alighted at the Observation Deck stop, the fourth stop from the main station. The observation deck looked like it was in a shape of a circular spaceship located on the cliff. There was supposed to be an eating place but it was currently under renovation during our visit. 
This was one of the views from the Observation Deck on the left side. We walked around and saw a shop selling souvenirs. There was a sort of balcony area where tourists can take a photo of the outlaying islands.
me with the Tea Kettle island in the background

We took a picture by the Statue of Mother and Children, which symbolizes hope and gives a sense of purpose of life to people at the point of suicide thinking of a mother's love, was located. It was said that many people have committed suicide in this area saying it was a beautiful place to die in. This saddens me because such a beautiful place is supposed to be where people choose to escape from the hustle and bustle of life and come alive with nature, instead they chose to end their lives here. The amount of pressure and stress they must have been feeling is unimaginable.

We waited for the next train to come after a few minutes. It took quite a long time for the train to come so we decided we'd just walk to the next stop. According to the map it wasn't that far anyway and there were other people walking towards that direction.
From the Yeongdo Lighthouse station we walked down to the lighthouse. Looking at the map that's from the blue dot #2.  



We walked downhill and then uphill again on the way to Sinseon Rock. It was quite windy in the area. It was actually quite difficult to maintain balance while walking down the stairs while being bombarded by strong winds.

Ira, on the other hand, enjoyed being blown away. He walked back and forth, loving the strong breeze on his face, almost making him fly away.


Mangbu Rock in the background
This was one of the most dangerous walks we've ever done in our holidays. Although the pathway to the rock had metal bars and ropes to ensure the safety of visitors who wanted to venture into the rocks, when you reach the top of the rock itself there were no more barricades. It's up to everyone's personal prerogative to ensure their own safety. It was very tempting to go to the edge of the rock and take a photo. I believe some people have done so.

Along the way, there were several "foot prints" which, according to the sign boards, were from dinosaurs several thousands of years ago. Now that's something we didn't expect to see there. Ira didn't want to believe it but it's true.

We made it close to the edge of the cliff with wind blowing our hair and the sun burning our skin.

he found a perfect spot to strike a pose
After soaking in the scenery, having a messed up hair style because of the strong wind, and taking in as much sun as we could without being burnt, we headed back up to the train station. We didn't stop in any of the other stations and decided to just ride the train back to the main station. Temples weren't really our thing anyway. 

Our short visit to Taejongdae Park (we were there for only 2 hours) was well worth it. We had an adrenalin-pumping experience walking to the Sinseon Rock while being blown by the wind. And that breathtaking view of the sea. Ira wanted to go for another ride on the Danubi Train but we said that would mean we had to queue up and pay for another ride. There was already a long queue and we still had other places to visit so we had to leave.

About Taejongdae Park
  • Park admission: FREE
  • Danubi train tickets
    • Adults 2,000 won / Youths 1,500 won / Children 1,000 won 
    • Family fare: Adults 1,600 won / Youths 1,200 won / Children 800 won 
    • the prices above were indicated in the visit Korea website, I only paid 1,500 won for adults and 600 won for children
  • Danubi train operating hours 
    • March-October 09:20-20:00 / November-February 09:20-19:00 
  • How to get there
    • From Gimhae Airport : Airport Limousine Bus(Busan station) → Chungmu-dong Seo-gu Office bus stop → Bus#8 → Taejongdae Terminus
    • From Busan Station :Metro Line 1 Nampo (Exit 6) → Bus 8, 30, 66, 88 → Taejongdae Terminus
    • From Busan Bus Terminal :Metro Line 1 Nampo (Exit 6) → Bus 8, 30, 66, 88→ Taejongdae Terminus
    • Metro :Metro Line 1 Busan station (Exit 7) → Bus 66,88,101 → Taejongdae Terminus

Travel tips of the day:
  • The earlier you're there, the better. You will have more time to explore - either to stop in each of the stations or walk from one station to another. 
  • Bring water and snacks to sustain you for half a day or a few hours in the park. You can even go for a picnic in one of the many spots in the park.
  • Bring an umbrella or a hat and a pair of sunglasses specially if you're visiting during summer months.