I’m behind on updating the blog because life is happening – we FINALLY received our household goods (rejoice!), so we are drowning in cardboard at the moment and heavily procrastinating on unpacking and getting our house together. I am more than thankful to have our American mattress back – I almost cried when I saw the movers bring it inside.
For the long holiday (Labor Day) weekend (4 days) we made a push down to Busan – a beach town in southern Korea (down at the SE tip, so to speak).
Fun fact – Busan is the only area of Korea that wasn’t taken over by Communist rule during the Korean War.
We took the KTX (Korea’s Bullet Train) down south from Asan. The views were stunning – vast fields of rice patties, tree covered mountains, little villages, and of course many high-rise apartments. I had forgotten how enjoyable train rides were, not to mention it’s a great way to see the countryside. We spent the rest of that day enjoying the beach, eating the best sushi I have EVER had (and I haven’t even been to Japan yet), and karaoke-ing the night away.
A bit about the karaoke – although more popular in Japan, there are karaoke places in Korea where you can rent a room for your group of friends and enjoy your own private moments. After a few drinks, it’s not so scary to belt out “The Piano Man” with your buddies. It’s reserved by the hour, and the drinks are aplenty. The most hilarious part was seeing the music videos replaced by fake Korean music videos, and the subtitles were poorly translated. That became a drinking game of it’s own!
Sunday was a little more hectic, but probably one of the best days I’ve had since we moved here. We visited the Haedong Yonggung Temple, a gorgeous coastal Buddhist temple, and wandered about the grounds. Never before had I been to a Buddhist temple, and it was quite the experience. Constant chanting, many devout ones kneeling to pray, colorful ornate structures, giant gold Buddhas, forests surrounding the area, and the sound of the waves in the background. It was peaceful, different, and enchanting. Prior to entering the temple grounds there was a cute little market selling trinkets, food (both delicious and disgusting looking), and souvenirs. This is where I tried squid for the first time and it wasn’t so bad!
Shortly after the temple visit, we went straight to the Park Hyatt Hotel for some Korean High Tea. Going out for afternoon tea is one of my favorite activities, and if you know me well you’re aware that I was in “Lizzie Heaven.” What we didn’t know about this tea experience is that the views would be STUNNING. Some of the food was….different. One cake tasted like a wet sponge, and another tasted like a burp. Nevertheless, it was still only $36 per couple for the experience.
Continuing with this theme of culinary delights, we set out with friends for a night of authentic Lebanese food, honeycomb ice cream, and a swanky speakeasy (hint – it’s called “The Back Room: Secret Bar” and you’re allowed access with a telephone call into a secret bookshelf door. Oh my God). Their drinks also made #1 on the charts of the best cocktail I’ve ever had. Our stomachs were happy – no wonder why it was such a perfect day. Good food, places, adventures, and company.
Day 3 was one of our lazier days. We slept in for hours, which was much needed, and then checked out the world’s largest department store. It was massive. They had 9 floors (I think, maybe more), a golf range, spa, movie theater, two food courts, and hundreds of stores. We explored maybe half of this before we called it a day. I think the Busan night life had gotten the best of us…
For dinner we ate at Sharkey’s – an expat restaurant with many Western and Tex Mex delights. You’re probably reading this like “She went to Busan and ate Western food??” -you’re damn right I did. Many people recommended this place to us, and it certainly lived up to it’s reputation. I think my eyes grew 3.6 times their size when our waiter brought out the queso.
Our last night in Busan called for a stroll around the night markets, the beach, and one final stop at the secret bar. We saw many interesting sea creatures that we didn’t know existed, such as Gae-Bul. I’m going to let you Google that one and help me figure out what it is 😉
If you go to Busan, you MUST check out The Back Room – it’s the secret bar I keep mentioning. Check out this link about it here.
Busan stole our hearts and provided an excellent display of culinary delights, an upbeat night life, and an adventurous expat feel – I forgot to mention this town is filled with English speakers (Americans, Canadians, Europeans, Australians, etc) as it’s a hot spot for TESOL teachers. It was the perfect weekend getaway for the (American) holiday weekend. We will be back.
Kisses & Kimchi,