From Morning Calm to Rising Sun (By SUPERBOAT!)

By in boat, Busan, giveaway, GPSmyCity, Hiroshima, Japan, Kristina, Mongol Rally, pro tip, South Korea, Travel Tips on March 2, 2016
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We spent five days in Seoul, gallivanting and exploring the capital, but it was time to move 11821286_764711933655481_1592353711_non. After a train back to Busan, we made plans to meet up with our fellow Mongol Ralliers (Travelstache and Wanderlicious) who had followed us to South Korea a few days behind. They were in Busan! So we planned a beach day for our final day in the land of kimchi and KPOP. We finished the last of the Mongolian vodka from our trip, had a swim, I got a horrific sunburn because I fell asleep in the sun like a moron, had some Korean BBQ, and ended up having a waltz around Busan’s red light district. I didn’t even know Busan had a red light district until Sora and I accidentally stumbled upon it, confused as to why we were suddenly seeing women in these glass houses as if on display. It didn’t take long for it to click.

Turns out, Busan is the birthplace of Korea’s sex trade, mostly in part to the Japanese invasion and their establishment of brothels there. Prostitution is technically illegal in South Korea, but the sex trade amounts to 2% of the country’s GDP and there was nothing subtle about the area we had accidentally wandered into. Police have been cracking down on the industry in recent years, but it’s still very prevalent. I’m a firm believer that if a woman chooses to be a sex worker, she deserves the same respect as anyone. It’s a job just as any. If anything, I was just curious, even if I did feel uncomfortable with how the girls seemed to be on display as if in shop windows. But hey, that’s on me, not on them.

Anywho! We parted ways from Scott & Maartje as we were Japan bound (as were they a few days later ironically, though we didn’t meet up again). However, while they were flying into Osaka, we were going a different way… we were taking a boat. That’s right, we hadn’t had enough of boats on The Mongol Rally and were taking yet another one across the sea. 2015-09-05 08.21.29So the next morning we got up early and found a cab to take us to Busan’s International Port. In my infinite wisdom, the address I found for the port was the domestic port, for boats heading to Jeju Island and such, and not the international port. It also didn’t help that our cab driver had NO IDEA about any of the ports. I offered my itinerary to him to try and emphasis we were heading to Japan, but he just complained it was in Japanese.

Yes Mr. Cabbie, I know. Because we’re going to Japan.

I saw the international port. I saw as it passed. And I really should have told him to turn around. He delivered us to the domestic port, but it was closed up as boats weren’t leaving this early. It was only when I said “Hakata” that he understood we were going to Japan (I had been saying “Fukuoka” before, but the port name in Japan is actually Hakata, while the city is Fukuoka. Suddenly it all clicked for him and a few minutes later we were finally at the international port. So, pro tip: tell cabbies Hakata instead of Fukuoka… or y’know, actually get the right address (which is 46, Chungjang-daero 9beon-gil  Jung-gu, Busan 부산광역시 동구 충장대로 206 (초량동) btw).

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Despite all this, we were early. So Sora and I wandered about and then saw a display about the sort of boat we were actually taking. And then laughed. Really hard. The JR Kyushu Ferry aka the Beetle and the KOBEE are superboats. Ok, that’s not the technical term, but it’s what I called it. I mean, LOOK AT THIS THING!


It’s a speed ferry that goes so fast it lifts out of the freaking water. It doesn’t seem like you’re going that fast while in it, but it’s a jet stream of a boat. Mostly it’s hilarious to look at, but it cuts the crossing down to just 2 hours and 55 minutes.

The ferry from Busan to Fukuoka (Hakata) is the best way to get between the two countries if you want to start at the southern tip of Japan, which is what we wanted to do. It’s only $50. That’s it, $50! We booked our tickets through A Ferry, but you can find tickets all over the web or buy them at the port, possibly for even cheaper. Otherwise there’s tons of flights every day between the two countries that are relatively inexpensive.

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After checking in and getting our travel donuts (a tradition we’d picked up in Korea and is still going strong), we waited around for our boarding call. The interior of the superboat (I’m never going to stop calling it that btw) was straight out of the 80s, but it was cozy enough and the safety video was mildly entertaining. Having lived in Japan, it was suddenly very exciting to see and hear Japanese after two weeks in Korea. I could understand and read things again! Sora slept, as she always does, and I ordered us some snacks from the cart that wandered by a few times. The crossing was easy and smooth and before I really knew it we were in Japan.

After a friendly interaction with a customs agent who was pleased I could speak Japanese and had lived here before, we were through. I tried and failed to get money out of the pesky Japanese ATMs (PRO TIP: Japan is still a major cash society and most, if not all, Japanese bank ATMs only accept Japanese bank cards, even if they have an international option. Your best bet to get cash out is at tourist centers, major rail stations, or 7-11s and Lawsons convenience store). However, thankfully I had some left over Rubles and could exchange those for Yen at the terminal. With enough to get us on the bus to the main train station, we were off!

If you’re going to be wanting to see a lot of Japan, get a rail pass. It may seem expensive, but it’s going to save you a LOT of time and probably work out even in terms of expense as well. Transport is not cheap in Japan, even the slow trains cost more than you expect. We both got the 7-day rail pass which allowed us unlimited rides on JR trains and shinkansens aka bullet trains (as long as we didn’t use the Nozomi or Mizuho shinkansens). And this was great, because this meant we could immediately jump on a shink to Hiroshima, our first stop in Nippon!

2015-09-05 18.30.16

We stayed at Hiroshima Hana Hostel in the city, which is right by the station but far enough away that it’s nice and quiet. And while I’ll do a full review later, I had booked us a traditional Japanese room with tatami and futons, to give Sora a bit of the authentic experience. After a bit of freshening up, we immediately set out to get food and ended up choosing an izakaya chain I was familiar with.

My Japanese skills were immediately put to the test however as there was no English to be found. It’d been six years since I lived here, but I was determined and remembered far more kanji and hiragana and katakana (the three Japanese “alphabets”) than I expected. True to expectations, the service was entirely automated with a touch screen menu and I ordered us a small feast. Sora had been looking forward to Japanese food the entire summer, and I could barely contain myself at getting to eat soba (cold buckwheat noodles) again.

We stuffed ourselves silly and decided to walk t off we’d go take in some of Hiroshima’s sights, as tomorrow would be busy as we were heading to Miyajima.

But that, my friends, is for next time.

Kristina is an ardent traveler and has been to over 48 countries and has no plans to stop. She taught English in a small fishing city in Japan for a year, volunteered on an archaeological dig on an Iron Age site in Israel, drove 10,000 miles in a 1994 Corsa from London to Ulaanbataar for charity, and accidentally fell in love with K-pop in Seoul. It’s been a wild ride.
    • Michael Maccarone
    • March 2, 2016

    Can’t wait for the Miyajima recap. I stepped on a beer glass (not even mine!) and had to get stitches when I was in Miyajima (actually had to go to a clinic on themainland the next day), so I didn’t get to fully explore Miyajima as I’d have liked.

    1. Reply

      Ahh, I think I remember you tell me this story. It’s my favorite place, I’ll be covering it in more details than anyone wants haha

  1. Reply

    Oh my gosh that boat looks deadly hahahaha!!

    1. Reply

      It does, doesn’t it? Hehe

  2. First of all, I live in Korea 🙂 I loooove Busan but thank goodness have not accidentally ended up in that area lol

    I also love Japan!! We have yet to take the ferry but may do it once. Have you ever looked at Peach Airways? They actually fly so cheap — very comparable to that $50 price tag but of course it’s carry on only lightweight travel or extra charges 🙂

    Looks like an adventure!!!

    1. Reply

      Oh yay! Haha, it was an amusing experience and totally accidental, which I think makes it all the more grand. A few people have mentioned Peach, so I’ll def have to look them up when I’m over there. And hey, for a long weekend away, carry on should be okay xD. But do try the ferry, it’s good fun!

  3. Reply

    Love your travel tradition – donuts are always an excellent idea. And great tips on the ferry, rail pass and cash. Enjoy your 🍣 I am very jealous!

    1. Reply

      They are! I had forgotten how delicious donuts were, I hadn’t had one in yeeears. And now I eat too many, haha. Thanks!

  4. Reply

    Japan is on my bucket list, so I’ll make note of the rail pass. Thanks!

    1. Reply

      You’re very welcome!

    • camille
    • March 2, 2016

    What an experience! It’s amazing how languages will come back to you when you need them!

    For the giveaway: favorite city I’ve been to is Prague!! So much beautiful architecture and rich history. I had a beer in a pub that has been up and running since the 8th century! The people were so friendly, the food was amazing, and I truly almost moved there. Can’t wait to visit again! 🙂

    1. Reply

      Right? I was so surprised and then proud of myself, haha! Prague is like a fairytale, isn’t it? And that sounds like such a neat pub. I love how Europe preserves its history, so wonderful. Hope you get there again soon!

  5. Reply

    Oh I’,ve never seen a speed boat this size!
    And to enter the givaway: My favourite city is Amsterdam because I’m a cycle mad! 🙂

    1. Reply

      It’s insane isn’t it? Haha. And grand! I’ve yet to visit Amsterdam (it’s a major blight on my travel map of Europe D:!), but I do love riding my bike around. Need to gooo.

    • Lis
    • March 2, 2016

    Oh my gosh, What an adventure. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    My favorite city is London. It was always a place I dreamed of going and when I finally got to go in 2007, it marked off a lot of my firsts as I had never traveled anywhere before.

    This year I’m going to try to hit Rome so the app would be so great to have as I’d like to explore without bothering anyone and feeling confident in where I’m going 🙂

    1. Reply

      Aww yay! London is home of my heart and soul without a doubt, so glad you got to do! And wonderful! I’ve never been to Rome, but I hope you ave a wonderful time! The app would DEFINITELY come in handy!

    • Lucy
    • March 2, 2016

    Love your adventure 🙂

    1. Reply

      Thanks for reading!

  6. Reply

    Catching boats is an awesome way to travel. Sounds like you all definitely had a great adventure.

    1. Reply

      It was an amusing one, hehehe.

    • Evelyn
    • March 3, 2016

    How funny 😁, that boat looks crazy!

    And my favorite city is London! It’s just so charming and beautiful.

    1. Reply

      It’s super silly looking, isn’t it? Hehe. Ahhhh my favorite city in the world *__*

  7. Great post! 🙂 I was going to head to Fukuoka from Busan but skipped it and flew straight to Osaka.. damn! Next time! You should check out Peach Air whilst you’re over that way, they have some really cheap flights (and that’s even with me booking a flight about two days before!)

    1. Reply

      Quite a few people have mentioned Peach Airlines, I think that’s what Scott and Maartje took. I’ll def check it out while I’m over there :)! I love how cheap air travel can be in Asia *wistful sigh*.

  8. Reply

    I love Korean Barbecue.
    My favorite city is Barcelona because of how colourful it is and all the festivals.

    1. Reply

      Mmmm yess. And Barcelona is amazing! Parc Guell is my favorite.

  9. Reply

    Wait…what?!? Busan has a red light district? I live here and didn’t know that. I heard that they used to…. called Texas Street I believe? Is that still it? What an interesting bit of information I learned today…that Busan was the birthplace of Korea’s (taboo) sex trade.

    1. Reply

      Hahahaha yup! It’s not terribly far from Haeundae, I think it’s called Wan Wol Dong, but they may have changed the name. Totally accidental that we found it and then found it AGAIN. It’s near all the love motels, lol. The more you know!

    • baka_yu
    • March 7, 2016

    London! Beside the fact that it’s come to be the place where I meet my friends, it’s got wonderful theater, lots of interesting corners and being at Southbank never fails to relax me and recharge my batteries.

    • Dustchick
    • March 7, 2016

    My favorite city is London, which we visited for the first time last summer and loved it so much that we’ve already planned a return trip for this summer. Previously, my favorite city was San Francisco, and it’s still very dear to my heart.

  10. Reply

    My favorite city by far was Warsaw which I visited when I was a senior in high school. So much history and activity. Would love to visit now that it’s been quite a few years, see how it has changed.

  11. Pingback: 24 Hours in Hiroshima (& Miyajima!) – The Nerdventurists

  12. Reply

    When I saw the photo of the boat, I was wondering if it was actually flying! Two hours and 55 minutes seems a steal for $50 to get to Japan. If I head back to Busan, I’m definitely taking this ferry in the future.

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