Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beau in Korea

Now that it's been almost a month since his visit I guess I can relive it all by sharing with you how I entertained my brother for a week in Korea.  The visit started with lots of waiting (for me) while Beau made his way from Incheon airport to Hongdae (where our hostel was).  Thankfully my brother was a big boy and caught the subway on his own - saving me close to 2 hours of subway riding and a few extra dollars.  Finally he arrived and we were ready to set out in Seoul.  My friend Sara was in town that weekend as well and already out grabbing dinner and drinks with our friend Daniel.  Beau and I wanted to check out the lanter festival on the Choeonggyecheon and get dinner but told them we'd meet up later.  I had no idea how crowded this festival would be, but I definitely underestimated it.  There was a line wrapping up and down the block that seemed to have no end - all just to walk down to the water and see some lanterns, we were satisfied with the view from above so we walked along eventually ending at a busy street where we decided to find dinner. 

Being his first meal in Korea I didn't want to disappoint so we opted for a samgyeopsal restaurant, you really can't screw that one up, and of course what would dinner be without some Soju! After dinner I contacted Sara and as luck would have it they were literally around the corner at a bar - perfect!  We met up and had a few beers before calling it a night - I think the long hours of travel mixed with some jet lag took their toll on my brother. 


And naps
The next morning was filled with grey skies and lots of rain, much to our disappointment.  We walked to nearby Hapjeong to get breakfast with Sara before she decided to make her way back to Waegwan, leaving us to wander on our own.  Seeing as the weather was not on our side we opted for the National Museum - which we thought would center around Korean history, hmm we were wrong - it was more of an art museum with lots of old stuff. We killed an hour or so there, mostly amused by the cleaning staff who buzzed by us multiple times on their hoverroundesque mopping mobiles. (I want that job when i'm an old lady) Thankfully the skies were looking a bit clearer so we made our way to namdaemun market for a little shopping before eventually finding ourselves back at the bus terminal to make our way back to Gumi.   I was even kind enough to cut our time close so that my brother had to run a bit in the bus terminal, oh and I even bought some Kimbap for the bus ride home - i'm such a wonderful host. :)

Huge pagoda
Fancy crown
My brother seemed a bit beat from the travels of the past few days so I opted to leave him at home Monday rather than put him through a day at school.  I went to school which was utterly boring while my brother roamed the city and I believe tested out some of my yoga DVD's (yeah they're not easy, hey?).  That night we met up with two other teachers in town, Shaun and Loudine, for some ddakgalbi, a tasty chicken dish.  Tuesday was the real highlight of the weak as my brother accompanied me to school, most of the staff looked on in wonder of who this boy and were confused when I introduced him as my 오빠 (older brother)  and most thought he was my 동생 (younger brother).  I'm just going to assume that means he looks really young instead of the alternative.   Of course the students went crazy as I paraded my brother around the school - i'm telling you if you want to feel like a celebrity just come to a Korean high school for a few days.  There were numerous pictures, basketball and soccer games played at lunch, and of course lots of staring and giggling - all in all a good day.  

Girls from 2-2

Post soccer game with some of my favorites 
Luckily my school loves me and let me skip out a bit early (as well as take the following day off) so that I could take my brother to Busan and show him more of this beautiful country.  We caught the bus, to the train, and were in Busan by roughly 7pm.  Another hour on the subway and we finally reached our destinate, Haeundae Busan - probably the most touristy and well known area of Busan (famous for it's beach).  We quickly found a motel (knocked down the price a little with my awesome Korean skills) and made our way out to explore and find dinner.  The town is a bit different off season (it's a beach town) and not to mention on a Tuesday night when i'm usually used to the Friday and Saturday crowds, but there were still plenty of people and lots to see/do.  We had Samgyetang for dinner, which I forgot how picky my brother can be with chicken bones - so probably not his favorite dish, but I enjoyed it.  After I wanted to show my brother one of our favorite bars in Busan so we made our way to the rock and roll bar for  a few beers and a game of pool before heading back to the motel.  

The next morning we were up early (I couldn't sleep and was tossing and turning from 5:30am on, but let Beau sleep until 7:30 - again, awesome sister.  Our first stop was the beach which, despite the cooler temperatures, did not disappoint. Kind of funny how I have a picture very similar to this - only it was taken before I went to bed after a night at the club rather than after a restful night of sleep. 

Taking advantage of the great weather we decided to walk along the boardwalk of the beach eventually ending and Dongbaek park.  The park is a popular destination for locals to go and run, walk or just enjoy the scenery, with a perfect location along the coast and lush greenery nearby it really is a great place to escape the city.  We walked through the park taking time to catch some scenery - the mermaid (representing an old love story), lighthouse, APEC house and gwangali bridge.  After the park we walked (a bit longer than we intended) to Sinsegae, the largest department store in the world - but unfortunately it wasn't open :(  Not wanting to wait around just to see a mall we continued on our journey (and after a quick stop for coffee) made our way to Seomyeon.  This is a college area so there's tons of shopping and entertainment  to be quite honest our stop was for the food. Similar to my first visit to Busan, way back in April, I wanted to eat at the "food alley".  Again we were a bit early as the women were just setting up their food stalls so we did a little shopping and then made our way back around noon.  Lunch consisted of ddukbokki, paejeon, and mandu which did the job of filling both of us, and for a good price - only 6,000won.  

along the detour across the bridge
Having walked 10,000 miles, shopped and ate we still had a half day's time at our disposal. We considered venturing out to a temple but neither of us seemed too into the idea and we couldn't really find the bus (minimal attempts were made) that would take us there, so instead we made our way towards the markets.  I previously was on a whirlwind tour through Gukje market in Busan and on that day I noted that I wanted to bring my brother back there.  It's a HUGE market filled with all the goods you can imagine and as Beau had to do some souvenir/present shopping, there wasn't a better place to be.  I'd say we were successful, I found the new boots I'd been meaning to buy for months along with a few other goodies and Beau crossed almost everything off his list.  Oh yeah, before the market I thought it'd be a good idea to check out Busan tower and Youngdusan park.  We didn't pay to go up to the observatory (there's really no need as the views from the park are impressive themselves) but we did break the bank to check out the model shipbuilding exhibit. 

The day ended with a quick sweet through Jagalchi fish market, which is supposed to be one of the top tourist destinations in Busan, but really just rows and rows of old people selling fish. After the sights and smells of the market we took the subway over to Lotte department store to kill a little time before heading towards the train.  Thankfully there was a place to sit and relax (it may have been the first time we did so all day) and bonus there was a musical fountain show, Korea never fails to entertain. Before long it was time to make our way to the station, eat dinner and being our trek back to Buksam.  It was a long day and we were both ready for sleep, after all it was only Wednesday...we still had lots more to do before the visit was over! 

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