Sunday, April 8, 2012

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air...

Spring is finally here, the cherry blossoms are blooming and the sun is shining. Besides having some plant/ yellow dust allergies, these past few weeks have been a blessing. It is amazing how much a little sunshine can boost your spirits. This past weekend a few friends and I made the 2.5 hour train journey to Busan (a city located on the southern coast). It was windy, but beautiful. Once we walked out of the subway station we took off toward the beach. I hadn't realized how much I truly missed the ocean. Living in Washington, I have been spoiled with being a short drive away from bustling waves and fresh air. But in Korea, getting a breath of fresh air could mean having to hike to the top of a mountain or having to travel hours to the ocean. The traveling was worth it let me tell you...

After putting our feet in the sand we decided to head to Yongungsa, a temple located on a rocky coast 20 minutes away by bus. This temple was breathtaking and a true treasure in Korea. Many people were visiting it and it was quite crowded. Sadly the temple was under some type of construction, so my pictures not great. After spending a couple hours we headed back to the city.

We found a love motel a few blocks from the beach. You might be wondering what a 'love motel' is...well in Korea most men and women live with their families until they are married. This could mean that they are still at home in their 30's or later. This doesn't offer much privacy and in a still conservative society, having your girlfriend or boyfriend over for the night isn't usually a possibility. So for about $40 bucks a night you can rent a room and no one has to know about it! Foreigners usually use these cheap motels for crashing in other cities on the weekend and they are very useful. The only thing is that sometimes they may turn you down if you try to check in before the evening, they like to get the hourly rate on their rooms. Thankfully we had no problem finding a cheap motel this weekend and there was plenty of room for us to crash on a pile of blankets. This type of room (with no beds) is traditional Korean style called 'Ondol' meaning radiant floor heating. Basically you sleep on a mat on the floor and stay warm from the heat...most homes here are heated this way as well. The only problem was that it is no longer winter and the floor heat was on blast. I think I almost died of heat stroke and woke up in a overheated confused state. Sadly we couldn't figure out how to turn it off...thankfully we had air con.

Before returning home for the evening we went out to hear some live music at The Vinyl Underground. It was nice because the live music scene in Korea, especially in my city of Gumi is almost unheard of. Sometimes you get lucky with the local bar doing an open mic night but that isn't often.

On our last day I chilled at the beach and got some sun. I would love to live in Busan on the weekends, its a great city with so many possibilities. Now I am back at school for the week. Wednesday is voting day so NO SCHOOL! Yay! I am going to go hiking at Geumosan right behind my house, I believe it is about a 4 hour hike roundtrip. Very excited to spend more time outdoors and get some exercise in!