A couple of weeks ago, Korea and many other nations celebrated Buddha’s Birthday. Christmas or Thanksgiving is probably the closest celebratory experiences we have in the States. There are parades and festivals leading up to the day. It’s not as commercial as a North American Christmas, but you can feel the build up of excitement as the month goes along.
One such event I was able to experience was a lantern festival. I had been out with friends for samgyeopsal (three layer pork). They were going out for drinks and a chat, but I had to be home for my brother’s graduation. Considering he’s over a thousand miles away, I know that makes no sense; but I was being skyped into the ceremony. That’s one of the downsides of living abroad- you miss these great chunks of life from back home.
I could have taken the subway, but it was a nice night, and I enjoy the walk back. Along the way, I noticed people lining up along the road. Soon enough, the floats began to crawl down the street. I was lucky enough to catch some of it on video. The only downside was that I ran out of space on my phone halfway through!
I found a nice cafe that had opened its terrace for the event. It was a beautiful moment on a spring evening, and I’m glad that a small decision allowed me to witness it.
On the actual holiday, I got a three day weekend. A friend and I went on a bike trip to Busan. Or at least, we had intended to bike from Daegu to Busan. If I wasn’t such a whiner, we may have done this. Ha ha! Oh no, it did not work out that way.
We left early on Saturday morning, and rode the subway out to the river trail. From there, it became very apparent that I could not keep up with my cycling buddy. Part of it was my fitness level, but it had a lot more to do with the type of bike I was riding. It’s a generic mountain bike, and the tires were about a three quarters the circumference of her road bike’s tires. Okay, I lie, but it felt that way! I had to peddle so much just to keep up! Most of the time, she would go ahead, take a break, and wait for me to catch up. It worked out pretty well, but it meant a much longer trip time-wise. This was all on me.
We did get to see some lovely sites along the trail. Climbing up three different mountains was not something I relished though. If I do go on any more long distance trips in Korea, I’ll be buying a new bike. That, or training like an ultra-marathoner!
Saturday night, we were out in the country, without a hotel in sight. I was being a whining baby, claiming I was going to sleep on the next bench we got to if we couldn’t find anywhere to stay soon. I know, I’m a joy to travel with. My cycling buddy was way more understanding than I deserved. She found a sign for a camping site as the sun was going down, and I booked it in that direction.
It turned out to be a great decision anyway, because the family that owned the camping site were amazing. They gave us a room, and then invited us to grill meat with them for dinner. It was a beautiful time, and it made up for the struggles we had been through earlier that day.
On Sunday, we headed out. It soon became apparent to me that it was going to be a repeat of Saturday. I was going way too slow for us to reach Busan by the time night hit. Around noon, I suggested we take a bus the rest of the way to Busan. Best. Decision. Ever. We had already biked over 33 miles(53 km). Not bad for someone as out of shape as me. It also meant we had time to see the beach, get a hotel, and see Mad Max in Busan.
Monday was the actual holiday. We started the day by going to see the painted village in Busan. Gamcheon Village It’s a gorgeous site, and I’d recommend it to anyone who visits the city. It’s a little difficult to get to though. Take the orange line to Toseong Station. Get off there, and either take the bus, or a taxi. We went with the taxi, because the buses were packed.
We also had a chance to visit Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Again, it took a bit of effort to reach. From Haeundae Station, take Bus 181. There really isn’t any better options. In fact, you’ll be at the beginning of the bus route this way, and have a chance to grab a seat.
After the temple, we headed back to the beach to walk along the surf. The sun was setting, and the bridge was glowing with lights. It was a wonderful place to cap off the trip.