We needn’t have brought a camp stove, we could have cooked on my feet!!
For Jesus’ birthday we all get gifts and eat altogether too much food. Similarly, last weekend for Buddha’s birthday J and I did a considerable amount of eating. We also got the gifts of wonderful memories, new experiences, and horrific sunburn.
We began our adventure like all the greats: at mental o’clock on Saturday morning. It seems that this crazy hour is the time for all of the activity as we buzzed about throwing our supplies into the bags and then banging out the door, laden with everything one might want on a camping trip. Bar my sleeping bag which remained on top of my wardrobe. An unfortunate oversight on my part, but I’ll blame the early hour for this one.
So we bungled ourselves onto the subway (line 1 to Hadan), and grabbed a bus to the famous Geoje Island. In typical fashion, both Jamie and myself had looked at different sets of directions as to how to find the right place to catch our last bus to the beach. This resulted in a panicked leap from the bus in Okpo and an over-long sojourn at a forlorn bus stop waiting for a bus that would never come. Needless to say we looked like something Keats could dream up, alone and palely loitering.
Eventually, having given up all hope, we descended the hill into the town proper and searched the internet for the correct set of directions. It’s a shame there isn’t some kind of internet connection available on you mobile phone when WiFi is not available, that would be very handy. So, we finally managed to find our bus stop (after climbing a hill that felt like some kind of paved Everest if I’m honest, but that may have been the tiredness) and make it to Gojura Beach.
Once again the rain is coming down in Korea. Sadly, due to the cost of the warning messages I got all last year (see here for more), I did not have prior warning of this. However, the weekend that was more than makes up for this positively Irish weather.
Friday saw us take a severely indulgent trip to the “Urban Camping Barbecue” in KyungSung (right next to Monk bar for those of you Busanites looking). This place serve everything the way you would if you were camping. That is if you were camping in a premium spot with easy access to water and refrigerated alcohol, of which we drank too much. Luckily we had Costco pizza and hotdogs to clear up any nasty hangover the following day.
The true highlight of the weekend though was certainly our 5 hour hike on Sunday. We met George and Ciera, an old friend we will miss as he’s headed home and a new friend we will miss just as much, at 10 and took the subway (line 1, orange) to Oncheongjang. From here we took the cable car up to the Geumjeong mountain (click here for Lonely Planet instructions).
Halfway there folks, it’s finally Wednesday! Although, that said, it’s also already Wednesday and it’s taken me until now to get myself in gear to post the pictures from last weekend’s adventure.
Having had a lazy Saturday going to the “pictures”, as they say in dear old Ireland, to see Gone Girl, we decided to use Sunday to visit the Children’s park for the first time, as we mistook the Citizen’s park for it last time (here’s the scoop on that).
“Reports show Rubik’s Cubes, Hello Kitty, Pooh Bear and Disney are among the best-selling toys. Which should we use in the statue ma’am?” “Yes!”
I know it’s been rather a blue two weeks here in Busan, and you have taken the brunt of it readers, but I have finally blown the homesickness away. Quite literally.
On Saturday evening, after a decidedly unusual meal of chicken soup, which arrived complete with chicken carcass in the bowl, to avoid confusion about the contents, I’m sure (but more on that another time), we headed to the Busan Fireworks Festival on Gwangalli beach. Naturally, with the firework display beginning at 9 we rocked up around 7. This was arguably our second mistake of the day, after the chicken soup.
Luckily my random photo-snapping resulted in some nice shots!
You see, by the time we arrived 80,000 other inhabitants of Busan, some having camped out all day, had also decided to turn out for the show. So, there we were amidst hundreds of others with similar intentions, debating whether to hike to higher ground to gain a better vantage or to face the reality that we should settle for a beach-side spot and learn our lesson for next year. Ultimately we opted for the latter.
Although our spot was less than ideal, the experience was definitely one of the best so far on my sojourn here in Korea. As you can see from the picture, we were right of center for the show, which gave us some giggles during the “Couples” theme segment when the heart-shaped fireworks looks more phallic than perhaps was intended.
I must admit though, that the atmosphere of the crowd was somewhat subdued, especially given that the population of Busan and it’s brother were there. One girl was even so good as to bring her cat to the festivities. How…kind…of her? Far be it from me to deprive a cat of enjoying nearly an hour of load explosions and flashing lights!
First off, apologies for the somewhat prolonged silence on my blog, I’ve been having too much fun (and not enough sleep) to keep up lately, but I promise I will try harder in future. I know how much the world needs one more travel blog!
What I have been doing with my time is exploring more of Korea than I thought existed, and so I’ll enlighten you by sharing my experience of the Korea we don’t usually get to see.
Come on get to the point Emmet, I ain’t got all day! Ok, ok, reader here it is: Bijindo Island Korea:
You know what my life was lacking here in the big city? Open space. I mean, it’s very nice here in Busan, and in my Dong (neighborhood, although that’s some pretty stellar foreshadowing), although there are many parks and some open space, it’s no Ireland, where one is never further than 10Km from the nearest farm.
In order to combat this longing for the countryside, I signed up for the Korean Bus Tour Adventures trip to Samcheok.
Samcheok is about 5 hours bus journey through much of Korea’s arable land as well some pretty lofty, yet completely forested mountains, which is unsurprising given that the World Bank quotes a massive 64.08% of Korea is forested!
Why go 5 hours away to see green land if you are driving through fields and forests the whole way there anyway? Well… Samcheok is very well know for its sculptures as well as it’s parks. As I’m sure you can see below.
All credit goes to Matthew for this picture. Really captured the spirit of the art!
“Ah look: a temple.” “Yep must be Asia, I guess… South Korea”
In the brief time I’ve been here in Korea I’ve begun to notice the picture my friends and family back home have of Korea is that it’s all bright lights, neon signs and temples, lot of temples. For example the one above is the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사) or the Dragon Gate Temple as I was told it translates roughly to by my bosses husband who showed us around. No, you aren’t wrong about any of those things we have them here in abundance. On my way to school I can take a wrong turn and end up in a neon sign temple… Although that may be a love motel but that’s a story for another time. However, there is so much more to see and do here, even in Busan alone there are more tourist attractions than you can shake a stick at! Not that I’m implying you, dear reader, go around shaking sticks at tourist attractions and the likes. Busan has even made it onto the Huffington Post list of ’15 Places to Go Before They Get Famous’, which if you give such articles credence is a big compliment to the city.
“But Emmet, we’ve seen all this sort of stuff before! Have you sold us the false promise of lesser known attractions of Forn Parts?” And to this I can hold my head high and say: I have not tried to cash in on the usual empty promise of something “unseen” and show you a part of Korea that not only are you unlikely to have seen but are also unlikely to expect.
Emma is smiling because you may be struggling with believing this picture was taken in Korea