Buddha´s Birthday in Busan 부산

We´ve had a long haul with no days off….we had one at the end of February, but during March and April, there was not one day off. Finally, this last weekend, we got a 3 day weekend and I took the opportunity to go to Busan which I´ve been wanting to do since I arrived.

Busan is one of the biggest cities in Korea and is located right on the bottom tip, a skip and a jump from Japan. Busan has a thriving fishing industry and a handful of white sandy beaches creating a more relaxing, laid back vibe compared with bustling, frenetic Seoul.

We left Friday morning and took a five hour train ride from Suwon station. When we arrived, we took a cab to Gwangalli beach where our motel was located. We sprung for an ¨ocean view¨, and it was worth the few extra won.

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After settling in, Chris and I took a long stroll down the beach at twilight and met up with Rachel who was staying in Haundae in a hostel. We had a great time walking along the waterfront, the city lights sparkling on the water. Couples holding hands interspersed with teenagers lighting off fireworks on the beach made for a fun, light hearted if not romantic mood. We wandered into a mini Theme Park and squealed like 10 year olds (or…wait, maybe just me) on the Pirate Ship.

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After a tasty feast of marinated galbi, and of course, beer and soju, we meandered into a bar for over priced cocktails just in time to witness a marriage proposal right behind the bar. Oh, how romantic!

A few drinks in, we stumbled to the beach to light off fireworks….responsibly, of course. More squealing, stumbling, and some explosions later, we decided to call it a night.

Saturday morning Rachel and I headed to Yonggungsa Temple (용궁사) which was worth the long, sweaty and crowded 45 minute bus ride. Located right on the ocean, with the waves crashing onto the rocks, sits this gorgeous Buddhist Temple which was adorned in colored lanterns to celebrate Buddha´s Birthday. Although packed with tourists, it was a great experience. The colored lanterns were stunning.

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After the Temple visit, we found our way back to Haundae beach, which is the larger of the two beaches and better for swimming. Although we didn´t get the heat or sunlight we were hoping for, relaxing on the beach was very sastisfying and I did my best to breath in the ocean air as much as possible before returning to dusty, smoggy Seoul.

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We ended our trip with dinner out at a nice Italian place and some drinks at a bar on the beach.

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I was sad to leave Busan but happy to have gotten the chance to visit and I had a great time. It was nice to see a different side of Korea, especially a slightly less hectic and crowded city.

Now to buckle down and prep for open class at the end of the month….yikes.


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