Work in Progress

“In the best travel, disconnection is a necessity. Concentrate on where you are; do no back-home business; take no assignments; remain incommunicado; be scarce. It is a good thing that people don’t know where you are or how to find you. Keep in mind the country you are in. That’s the theory.”
–Paul Theroux

A human who loves the world, finds beauty in the unknown, and can't keep her feet on the ground. I like finding unique (and cheap) ways of making my way around the globe. Interacting with people while living, learning, and loving the culture I'm surrounded by.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Independence Rings

This years Fourth of July tops the charts for the best one I've had in a while. After Karyn and I got off work around 9 Friday night our adorable Korean coworker, Claire, took us into town where we met up with some of Karyn's friends at a bus terminal. Two cute girls, who were not American, seemed almost more excited to celebrate the holiday than myself. Andreas from South Africa and Rizza from the Philippines. One of my favorite parts about traveling is the friends you have the opportunity to make from around the globe - not just the country you're visiting.

After the hour long bus ride to Busan. We were ready to get started. Busan has a huge foreign population. It's the second largest city in Korea and there are loads of English teachers and military guys. I'm not a big military guy fan, but they were excited to be celebrating our national independence so it made for a fantastic night out, especially since most places were playing very typical American music in honor of our holiday.

At The Wolfhound Karyn requested the bar to play the national anthem for us, and they gladly abided. It was really, really cool to see everyone stand up and drunkenly belt out The Star Spangled Banner. I'm not extremely patriotic, but goosebumps lined my arms regardless.

We bar hopped around Busan until we were properly drunk, and then made a stop at a convenient store which conveniently sells cheap Roman Candles year round. We bought a few sojus with a chaser and made our way to Heaundae beach. 

There was the most adorable group of Korean boys playing music in the sand when we arrived. We all settled down on the large steps and enjoyed ourselves singing along and dancing. One of the guys spoke English very well and congratulated us on our holiday and we had a quick little conversation before they continued their show. 

The rest of the night is a big blur. There were fireworks and adventures to find a bathroom, getting down with dancing Koreans at a bar, and a hookah lounge that I fell asleep in. 

The goal of the night was to need our sunglasses since we would be partying until the sunrise, and we did just that. 

Trying to stay hydrated, the morning after

The next morning I have zero photos from, except the one above from Rizza. My phone was left with Andrea and we somehow split up at the end of the night.We ate hangover soup for breakfast - haejangguk (해장국). Super Korean and super delicious, made with pork bones and blood. YUM. Then we lounged on the beach until Karyn's boyfriend, Q, came to retrieve us and play your guide around Busan. 
He took us to a traditional Korean restaurant, I couldn't have been more excited. You don't order, they just bring you out loads of side dishes called banchan (반찬). Would you believe me if I told you the picture above doesn't even show the entirety of our meal? I couldn't be bothered to take the time to snap another photo because I was so ready to dig in and start eating.

My favorites were the two soups in the middle (one with tofu and the other a soybean soup) and the dish to the left, chapchae (잡채) which are transparent noodles stir fried with deliciousness. 

After, we ventured on to Haednong Younggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사) - My first temple visit in Korea, and certainly not my last. This temple was situated right on the water. There were market stalls leading up to it selling souvenirs and food (including larva looking bugs). The colors were incredible, and the view was unreal. I felt very relaxed here and could have easily spend hours wandering around and looking at all the statues, temples, and mini Buddhas that filled the place.

The only downside was the amount of tourists, it felt very crowded. It did make for fun people watching. There were so many families with the cutest children. From what I have seen, Korean men have a really good time being fathers. Thy tend to be the ones carrying the babies in backpacks and playing with the kids while out in public. 

There was also an elderly man who seemed as though he probably frequented the temple. He had no legs. One was longer than the other, but they were both stubs. He climbed the hills of the temple grounds by laying his torso on a contraption with wheels and pulling himself where he needed to go. It was quite sad, although I had a sense that this fact probably saddened me more than it did him. It was humbling to see, that's for sure. 

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