Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom
July 14, 2004
Gwangalli Beach is closer to the city centre and no less packed in peak season, though the adjoining attractions are far more redolent of the jumbled mass a few kilometres west than the soulless international commerce of Haeundae. The beach curves sharply at one side, almost as if its trying to turn its back on the huge span of the Gwangan Great Bridge, which juts across the bay in front of the horizon on its way east. The narrow front is clustered with bars and restaurants like the glass fronted Beach Bikini and the enormous Beachfield, a wooden bar extending in front of the fairground with balconies overlooking the beach and an outdoor patio with a stage for live musical performances and seating for hundreds. Gwangan Station is about a five-minute walk from the beach. Take exit five, then do a 180-degree turn and take the first right.
My own favourite place on the coast is Taejong-dae, a 6,000 won taxi ride from the train station or a twenty-minute ride over the red Great Busan Bridge to Yeong-do Island on the number 88 bus. Before dawn it’s a ten-minute walk from the park entrance along the road to the two hundred year old white lighthouse above the rocks. A path leads down to a pebble beach, deserted restaurants of wooden boards strung across rocks with canvas sheets for roofs, and fishing boats already bobbing on the water, intermittently lit by the revolving light above. Spots of dark pine climb the cliff faces and the lights of the city flicker dimly against the brightness of the returning squid boats. Container ships are silhouetted against the gradually reddening sky, and the grey wisps of cloud lift to reveal tiny islands taking form in the distance. The smell is of lilac and salt, the sound of joggers, the chug-chug of fishing boats, silence, and a man chewing on his breakfast as a bright streak of fluffy white cloud escapes the full round, red oriental sun.
At 7:20 busloads of schoolchildren begin pouring into the park, huge ships congregate for their final approach to the port, and another day settles into its rhythm.
From journal A Path Through Busan