Inside wattE, a bar hidden away inside a building in the Kyungsung University area.

I tend to travel alone. I like the independence and flexibility of being able to decide what goes into my daily schedule. Which restaurants I’d like to visit do not have to pass through another person’s approval and if I pause for an hour to chat with someone I had just met in the street, there’s no one’s schedule that I’m holding up.

Busan Aussie Club is a friendly community for cultural exchange, group dinners and night time activities

Like many small businesses in Busan, wattE (Kakao maps link) is unsuspectingly (and excitingly) located.

A menu specialising in sweet wine and whisky highballs.

There are times when I like to be in a group though. As much as visits to museums and galleries are better done solo (art is a self-guided journey of interpretation), bars and fun nights out are more challenging to be enjoyed by me, myself and I.

Relax to the ambience of fine music and a unique, home-style surrounding at wattE.

Busan Aussie Club made a stop in an arcade centre in Seomyeon. Here’s a shooting game!

That’s why I was happy and grateful to experience the conversation and community of Busan Aussie Club on two Saturday nights (and counting). This blog post recounts the second Saturday night.

Arcade centres are commonly enjoyed in busy areas of Busan (like Seomyeon). They’re filled with lights and sound.

The 2nd bar of the night, at Gowanus (this might sound a bit funny if you pronounce it with Korean enunciation).

Led by Hannon, a local Korean who was inspired to build pathways between his home country and the country (Australia) he spent significant younger years in, Busan Aussie Club runs social meet-ups and language exchange events. Typically, they start at a cafe, where attendees can play board games and learn basic Korean phrases (and greetings from other languages). The environment is friendly and casual style.

Gowanus (Google maps link) is a hip, creative bar in Seomyeon. Enter via a slightly shifty looking side alley.

The 1st floor of the bar provides a conversational ambience and features a sleek bar.

The group then visits a restaurant for dinner after. This is when cuisine like Korean barbecue is at its most fun with laughter, soju cups clinking, and communal meat sizzling.

Food (including pizza), wine, cocktails, beer and whiskey can be ordered.

The rooftop floor exhibits the full alternative and hipster side of Gowanus. 

Following dinner, Hannon brings Busan Aussie Club to different bars. From both Saturdays that I attended, I appreciated the sharing of a local’s knowledge. These were bars that I would have otherwise been clueless to the existence of.

Busan Aussie Club hits the streets again, on the way to bar number 3.

As is customary, Seomyeon is filled with younger people on the weekends. There are restaurants, bars and music everywhere!

Get to know the city through the eyes of a local

On this particular Saturday night, our first bar was at wattE, a speakeasy style of bar with an elevated, musical charm. It felt like the cozy interior of a music producer’s spacious apartment. Located in the buzzing, university area of Kyungsung, it was a calm and pleasant venue to start the night.

A challenge pauses you on the street, will you take it on?

We’ve found our 3rd bar of the night. Understated entrances are to be expected in Busan.

The group then caught the bus to Seomyeon, Busan’s downtown and busiest area. On a side note for those new to the Korean city, it can be helpful to do simple, everyday activities like catching a bus in the presence of a local. That way any questions you have can be thoughtfully answered.

This is Grip, an underground club / bar with an edgier, naughtier vibe. 

If you read the names of some of these drinks, you may feel confused, amused or aroused.

The second destination was Gowanus, a venue that seemed to be quite popular with both locals and foreigners. The vibe was fun and the staff were welcoming, as cool as they looked.

I’m not kidding, these shots were called “blow j*bs”. It was a little awkward ordering it at the counter.

Grip Busan has a lively atmosphere.

By the time we exited Gowanus, the streets were alive. We navigated through enthusiastic party-goers, happy couples and talkative friends while trying to make sure no one in the group got lost. The mission was only partly succesful as a few members got caught up in the streets’ excitement (someone wanted to take a photo with a person in a large costume) and were temporarily left behind. 

Expect a more carefree and rowdy crowd at Grip.

Busan Aussie Club’s 4th and final bar of the night.

The third bar of the night was a basement-level, jaunty establishment called Grip. We sure needed the physical kind of grip to make sure we didn’t fall down the stairs, as they were steep and narrow!

dibs Busan is a pub where you can have group drinks, competitive foosball matches and darts matches.

Night outs in Busan can be enjoyed until the sun literally comes out.

Despite it being way into the AM by the time we reached the fourth bar, a few attendees still had the energy to play intense games of foosball. dibs, like Grip, is also an underground bar. It had a calmer, more sit-down environment compared to the other’s dance-happy vibes.

Hannon and Busan Aussie Club, I look forward to your next Saturday night adventure.

When the first bar of the night, wattE, becomes a distant and fond memory.