Day 5 (afternoon) in South Korea: Centum City

Next on our list of sights – Shinsegae Department Store and Busan Cinema Center, both located in Centum City; both world record-holders in their own right! The metro took us there swiftly and without a hitch. So reliable!

Right outside Centum City station was the basement entrance to Shinsegae, the world’s largest department store! There was a (rather inaccurate) replica of the Trevi Fountain in Rome just beside it.

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After snapping photos with our trusty luggage as makeshift tripod, we made a move for Busan Cinema Center…

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…whose claim to fame was the world’s longest cantilevered roof. The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) has had been held here annually, instead of at the BIFF Square, since 2011. The outdoor plaza was affixed with dozens of rows of seats – no different from in a stadium – and stuck to the wall in front was a giant projector screen. I could imagine them holding film screenings regularly there (sadly there wasn’t one when we were present). Apparently the ROOF itself can be used as one titanic screen as well, so that makes it the world’s longest cantilevered screen. Hahaha 😛

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With the longest cantilevered roof in the world! How’s that for a photo?

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Along the way, our eyes were drawn to Kidzania, given that we’d been hearing about it more than ever since one opened in Sentosa not too long ago. Also nearby was Diorama World, a museum with miniature renderings of various places. And adjacent to it was the Korea News Network (KNN) headquarters!

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On the other side of the Cinema Center laid the APEC Naru park, built to commemorate the 2005 APEC summit held in Busan. The cantilevered roof of the Cinema Center was so colossal it was probably a better idea to cross over to the park for a more encompassing photo, but it was raining quite heavily then so we got a few quick shots before ducking back into the shelter of Shinsegae.

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Being in the largest department store in the world necessitates checking it out, but we had one more destination in mind. We brisk-walked through the ground and basement floors, chancing upon two Po’s midway, and that was when we had the embarrassing idea to mimic his Kungfu poses in front of whoever were passing by. And the result?

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Haiiiiiiiiiya! We also saw a shop selling phone covers and pouches with cute photos of numerous breeds of dogs printed on them. There were none that looked particularly like the doggies, and they were quite pricey, so we just casually browsed through! Eventually we reached the entrance to Centum City station, where we first started, and zipped to Busan station.

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Our last destination in Busan was to be Taejongdae, but we already weren’t that keen on heading there because the rain didn’t seem to be letting up. Also, we read that the Danubi tram didn’t operate in the rain, so if we took the 40-minute bus ride there and realised that there was no tram to take us around, we’d be left with no choice but to tackle the slippery trail on foot. Plus, if it was raining in the first place, the purpose of going to Taejongdae (for the scenery) would be lost behind the cloudy sky. Besides, we felt that Dongbaek island was good enough!

By the time we reached Busan station, and after a final assessment of the weather, we had more or less made up our minds to skip Taejongdae and to hop on an earlier KTX train back to Seoul, where it was sunny and we’d be able to check in to our hostel earlier.

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We hurried to the ticketing counter to obtain tickets just in time for the 2pm train – making a trip to the toilet on the way – and then down to the platform to witness it arrive! Such is the unpredictability, and therefore joy, of travel!

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We realised that, once again, we had been allocated backward-facing seats, but this time we weren’t too bothered by it, because we knew so well we were going to sleep most of the journey away! We bade goodbye to Busan, which was absolutely great and a welcome respite from upbeat Seoul, marred only by the bad weather! We’d seriously consider coming back during the non-rainy season!

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3 hours felt like 30 minutes and we pulled into Seoul station. Our hunger kicked in and we just had to have the famous Bulgogi Burger from McDonalds’. This particular outlet in Seoul station was actually conjoined with a Lotteria, which was weird given both were rival fast-food chains in South Korea!

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The verdict? Simply mashisoyo! The slightly sweet and savoury sauce coated the patty just right! If only they had this in Singapore…

Before taking the subway to Jongno 3-ga station, a sales event just outside the Lotte Outlet Stores peaked our interest. I ended up getting a pair of lazy shorts for 10,000 won, which came with a complimentary green singlet (which they were probably trying to clear because no one was buying them).

And with that, we sat on the Seoul subway for the first time in what was more than a day, bound for our hostel for the night, Star Hostel Insadong!

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