It has been a while since our last post. The reason? We have been bumming around on the beaches of Busan, South Korea for the past eight days.
Before getting into our fun in the sun, we’ll take you back to our last moments in China. On our final night in Beijing, we liberated ourselves of the massive Lonely Planet China guidebook we had purchased and felt a great weight off our shoulders (both literally and metaphorically). Guidebooks can be a double-edged sword; they provide you with valuable information and are a one-stop shop for planning a trip, but they also leave you feeling like you have to see and do everything. We now know 100% that we prefer to travel without them.
When all was said and done, we spent five weeks maneuvering the crowds, traffic and tourist hotspots of eight different Chinese cities. Don’t get us wrong, we loved China, it’s just that we were ready to plant ourselves in one place for a while. Simply stepping out of the airport in Busan had a very calming effect. People formed lines, cars stopped at cross walks, streets were clean and tidy and everything just seemed so smooth and orderly.
We knew that Busan was a city with some nice beaches, but to our surprise, there was an international sand festival taking place at Haeundae Beach, just minutes from our hostel. When it comes to de-stressing and just having fun, there are few things better than an ocean side festival.
We got inspired to create our own work of art. It was so much fun to play in the sand that day. Quite a few people even stopped to take photos of it, which made us feel like we were part of the festival. The sad part is how sore we were the next day, and for several days after.
At first, we had considered taking a train up to Seoul for a few days or setting off for some hiking in the nearby mountains; but, in the end our desire to just max on the beach prevailed. We decided that we could still experience many great aspects of Korean life, namely the food, without trekking very far. We had only to walk two minutes from our hostel to Haeundae Market to find many of the nation’s culinary delights. After just a day, this market became one of our favorite markets in the world.
The combination of fresh seafood, delicious vegetables, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, street food and shops was perfect. We ate everything from kimchi dumplings, to sushi rolls, to tempura . One night, we even ate a meal that included 11 different types of sashimi: two species of eel, sea snails, crab, sea squirt, shrimp, sea cucumber, three unknown types of delicious sliced fish, and a whole grilled fish.
If seafood isn’t your thing, South Korea has you covered too. Enter Korean Barbecue. These great restaurants are perfect for dining as a couple or with a group of friends. A charcoal pit in the middle of the table allows you to grill up your own meat while you enjoy bottomless side dishes of kimchi and vegetables.
One of our friends from DU is living and teaching English in South Korea, and we had a blast hanging out, getting the inside scoop on the country, and visiting her middle school class (more on that in a future post). Thanks again Danielle for a great time!
As if a week of maxing on the beach, grubbing tasty Korean food and hanging out with friends wasn’t enough, viewing the Venus Transit across the sun was icing on the cake. The view of this rare astronomical event was said to be the best in this region of the world. Foolishly we tried to look at the sun using only two pairs of sunglasses. Epic fail. But we were lucky enough to run into a group of local physics students who had telescopes set up on the beach. Win!
We didn’t have a guidebook when we got to Korea, nor had we done much planning beyond booking a hostel, so we really didn’t know what to expect from Busan. Half the beauty of traveling is making it up as you go, this time things went our way and we couldn’t have picked a better time to be there.
So where are we now? We managed to peel ourselves off of the beach in order to fly to Japan today. We’ll spend a few days in Kyoto before heading off to work. You’re eyes are not deceiving you; yes, for the first time in over six months we will be getting paid. We’re heading to Yokahama to work a booth at a stem cell research conference called ISSCR for Amy’s previous employer. It will good to hang up our travel gear for a bit and get back in touch with our professional selves. Not to mention it will be nice to see our bank account increase instead of decrease for a change!