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Gyeongju II: Hiking Namsan & Other Soul Satisfying Fare

 
 
 
Our day trip begins at a traditional restaurant that had obligingly opened early to accommodate our group of six. As soon as we settle down onto the floor mats, side dishes (called banchan, 반찬) and mountain vegetable bibimbap (sanchae bibimbap, 산채 비빔밥) mix-ins start arriving on our table. This will be our fuel during the all-day hike ensuing right after breakfast.  Today is devoted to conquering Namsan Mountain in Gyeongju.
 
 


Sitting on Songjeong

In the spirit of summer (or rather, the recent end thereof), I thought I would share one of my favorite discoveries from this too quickly gone by summer season: Songjeong Beach, tucked up on Busan's eastern coast in the Haeundae area. Remember how I barely updated at all this summer? Yeah, I was here.
                                                                                                         


Lantern Kaleidoscope for Buddha's Birthday

Buddha's Birthday is not a holiday I normally celebrate. I've still never really celebrated it, although I did have the day off from work. I knew the day was coming weeks in advance, since ordinary city streets gradually became lined with long strings of colorful paper lanterns. It's a beautiful religion I know little about.
                                                                                                               

Going to Gyeongju

Tumuli. Tumuli. Tumuli. It's fun to say.

Beomeosa: Temple of Fish from Heaven

On most of the must-do tourist lists and in guidebooks, Beomeosa rates as one of the most important tourist sites in Busan. It was one of the first sites I learned about while researching the city that would be my future home, and I looked forward to seeing the well-known temple. When my sister and brother in law visited Busan back in March, we spent a weekend afternoon at the temple.

In the Neighborhood: Oncheoncheon Citizen's Park

I'm unsure of the actual length of the Oncheon-cheon Citizen's Park in Busan, South Korea. The stream runs through Dongnae-gu, Yeonje-gu, and Busanjin-gu, and just footsteps outside our apartment building near the Pusan National University of Education.

The sign posted near where I enter says the park's 2,062 km long. Even with my lack of metric system comprehension, I know that cannot be right. What I do know is that I love this park, and I'm really grateful for its presence.

Cherry Blossoms Next Door

These photos were taken at Oncheonjang Stream, a stretching park running just outside our door. As the cold winter faded to spring, we waited while the cherry trees prepared themselves for the blossom filled spectacle that would stick around for nearly two weeks. What a gift.

Good Day, Igidae

Our eyes scan the rocks under our feet, looking for the footprints of the long extinct Ultrasaurus. It’s been awhile since I’ve gone on a dinosaur print hunt. Okay, I’ve never actually tried to find dinosaur prints before, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be successful today. We conclude they the prints must actually be these foot-wide indentations now filled with shallow pools of water. 

Buddhas by the Sea

Sometimes I sit back and wonder when my life took the turn such that it's not out of the realm of everyday possibility to spend a few hours exploring a Buddhist temple next to the sea. How'd I get so damn lucky? 
                                                                                                               
Crystal and Nick's visit in March prompted Shane and me to do some sightseeing around town that after seven months in Busan, we still hadn't gotten around to. 
                                                                                                     

Weekend in Hwagae, Part II

... Cool mountain air awakes us the next morning. That, and the hanok owner's agitated voice asking us through the papered doors to turn off a forgotten light.

Seoul: The Blue House

Seoul: Olympic Park

In 1988, sprinter Ben Johnson lost his gold when he tested positive for a performance enhancing drug, Flo-Jo set an Olympic record, and Greg Louganis got the gold despite a nasty hit on the head from the diving board. It happened in Seoul. 

Seoul: Pictures of Palaces

As part of our four day winter vacation to the tropical wonderland of Seoul, Shane and I spent several hours wandering palace grounds. Seoul is home to five Joseon Dynasty palaces, one of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though the raw weather chilled us through, the palaces' vibrant colors reminded us of sunny days. 


Gyeongbokgung
or, the Palace of Shining Happiness

Christmas Season Wrap Up

This past year as November and then December rolled in, I approached the holiday season with trepidation.


After all, when you're a person so close-knit to your family, it's hard to know how you're supposed to act and react to the holidays when you're spending it in a land that is your residence, yet is not your home.


Enter Causes Greater Than Thyself.


The Amazing Race Daegu

Nothing says adventure like an Amazing Race scavenger hunt, so when opportunity knocked on our door in the form of Dianna and Bryan inviting us along, we went with it. Our team of four, Team Amuricah (said with a slow drawl), took on the city of Daegu, the third largest city in Korea, just a bit northwest of Busan. 

Seventeen teams competed, mostly all foreigners with a few native Koreans here and there. About six of us teams had never set foot in Daegu before-- including us. That would prove to be less of a disadvantage than you think it would. 

Hiking Geumgang Park to the South Gate

Two steps off the cable car that brought us halfway up the mountain in Geumgang park in Busan, we realize this sprawling city is even more sprawling than previously suspected. Looking down, we see tiny buildings and bridges and metro tracks. Looking around ourselves, it's hard to remember we're in the middle of the city at all. 


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