Am I still in Korea?!
The highlight of my trip to Busan was making a visit to the vibrant and charming Gamcheon Culture Village.
This unique Busan neighbourhood, set on a seaside hill, is made up of hundreds of colourful, pastel homes, stacked on top of one another. If I hadn’t known that I had moved my butt to Asia 4 days prior (I mean, the jet lag was still screwing with my brain a bit), I would’ve thought I had accidentally stumbled onto a super cute Greek island.
About 800 homes are separated into blocks by tiny, narrow alleyways, winding up and down the hill. The neighbourhood is currently populated by about 10,000 residents, but many of the homes are abandoned. This paints an eerie scene, as the vacant homes and quiet passages are left to be roamed by a delightful abundance of cats. If you’ve ever met me, you may have realized that I value my friendships with cats more than I do with humans.
Until recently, this neighbourhood was considered a slum, where many people had sought refuge after the Korean war. However, in 2009, it received a dramatic aesthetic overhauling, as artists began to coat the streets with interactive art installations and the buildings with decorative murals.
There is not one, single way to explore the village. In fact, I’m almost certain it’s impossible to not get lost. Though, I personally think that getting lost was the best way to discover the numerous art installations and murals scattered throughout. I spent hours walking up and down the tiny streets and stairways, constantly stumbling upon more artwork and cats (of course!). Having successfully stuck to my strict red bean ice-cream diet the whole time in Busan, this unexpected amount of exercise presented itself as a blessing in disguise.
Have I ever mentioned that I like to eat?
Not only did Gamcheon provide me with a gorgeous backdrop for some seriously epic photo taking and a place to ponder life and all of its mysteries. But, it’s also where I had the immense pleasure of trying one of my very first, strange Korean street foods – dragon’s breath, a colourful cup of cereal with dry ice. With every frosty bite, I blew out a cloud of cool air while enjoying this tasty, novelty snack.
If you’re planning on visiting Busan, consider passing up on that extra beach day and get yourself lost in Gamcheon instead!
How to get there: Toseong station on line 1, exit 6 and take the Sakha 1-1, Seogu 2 or 2-2 bus to the Gamcheon Elementary School stop, or, Goejeong station on line 1, exit 6 and take the Sakha 1 or 1-1 bus to the Gamcheon Elementary School stop. Enter at the road going downhill towards the colourful village. If you get lost, follow the cats!