Monday, October 28, 2013

오빠와 여친 한국에 왔어!

If you read my blog regularly (or more likely are a family member) you'll know that my brother came to visit almost exactly one year ago. I guess Korea made a good impression on him because he decided to come back for round 2, and this time bring his girlfriend Katie along for the ride.  Actually I think it might have been her desire to come that fueled their visit. Katie previously taught in Japan for two years so she's familiar with the foreigner teacher/living in Asia lifestyle. Unfortunately she didn't get the chance to stop in Korea while on this side of the world, but that worked out in my favor, more visitors!  Unfortunately my brothers boss wouldn't give him an additional Friday (very necessary for across the glob travel) so they duo arrived late on a Sunday night.  On the plus side they were able to score a RT flight arriving in Busan and departing from Seoul, maximizing the amount of Korea they'd be able to see. I'm lucky to work for an awesome school that allows flexibility with my schedule so I made the trip to Busan early Sunday to relax at the beach before going to meet my visitors at the airport. 

Gwangalli 'Diamond' Bridge 
I got lucky with the weather and was able to enjoy a beautiful sunny day at Gwangalli beach, there was even a random rock festival on the east side of the beach. I wasn't actually that surprised, there's always something happening in Korea. I had booked a hostel for all of us in the university area, a central location I thought might be good for exploring the city the next day, so I went to check it and relax a bit before heading off for the airport.  Thankfully transportation here is awesome so after a brief subway ride I was at the airport hanging out with all of the other greeters, I should've made a cool sign like they all had. Thankfully their flight was early so I didn't have to wait too long and we were soon on our way back to where I had just come from.  A quick stop at the hostel and we were on our way back to Gwangalli,  after living here for a year and a half and visiting Busan numerous times I had yet to see the 'famous' bridge lit up at night. Another bonus of having visitors, it reminds you to check out some of the 'tourist' attractions that you forget about when you settle into life here.

Welcome back, Brother!
After a few beach side beers we decided to call it a night, after all they had just traveled for 24ish hours and we had plenty to see and do the next day.  We spent Monday exploring Busan and I'm proud to say I played tour guide pretty well.  The morning started with a nice walk through Dongbaek park with a stop at the APEC house, which my brother and I failed to go into last time, ending at Haeundae beach.  We hit up a local (ie. not paris baguette) cafe for breakfast and then made our way to the bus headed for 해동용궁사 [Haedong Yongung Temple], one of the more famous temples in Busan.  When my brother came we were too lazy to take the bus out to the temple but this time around we decided it would be worth it, or maybe Katie is just a little more cultured than my brother.

~ Year of the Dragon ~


After the temple we worked our way back to the hostel so that we could pick up our bags and head west to explore the rest of Busan. We actually thought the morning would take us longer but we were so efficient we had lots of time to spare.  The excess luggage was a big factor in our decision, leading us to opt for exploring Nampo-dong after stashing our bags at the station. We did a brief walk through China town (not impressive), explored the myriad of stalls and vendors at Gukje internationl market and ended our trek with a rest at Yongdusan park (home to Busan tower).  I guess it's been a while since I played tourist in Korea because by the end of the day I was exhausted, I can only imagine how those two felt after hours of travel and a dose of jet lag, although I think they had the adrenaline of travel excitement on their side.

We caught the train back to Gumi that night and to continue in being a perfect host I had a ride waiting for us at Gumi Station. My friend Joonwoo offered up his spare bedroom to my visitors and even volunteered to drive (not only within Gumi) but also a day trip to Jeonju the next day!! We spent the evening eating Jimddalk and friend chicken with Joonwoo and his friends before passing out and getting some much needed zzzz's.  The next morning was another early start; we packed up the car, made a quick stop for breakfast Kimbap and were soon on our way to Jinan and Jeonju - two places I've yet to visit so of course we were all filled with excitement (plus it was Tuesday and I wasn't at school). 

Road Trip ~~ Jinan and Jeonju here we come! 

I'll give Katie credit for finding some interesting things to do in Korea, she did her research and found some hidden gems, I'm just happy I was able to get us to them.  Our day started with a small hike at 마이산 to make a visit to 탑사 a pretty unique temple in the mountains of Jinan.  The temple is filled with stone pagodas which were built by a man named Gapryong Lee stone by stone over several decades. I was seriously impressed by the pagodas and still don't understand how he constructed some of them, just goes to show you can never underestimate the possibilites of what one person can do.  The hike to the temple was pretty straightforward, consisting mostly of wooden stairs, but we were lucky that the rain held off and we had a beautiful day to enjoy.

Playing tour guide
Elephant Rock
After our hike and dose of culture my stomach was screaming 'FEED ME' so obviously it was time to make our way to Jeonju so that we could feast on the famous Jeonju Bibimbap. As we were leaving Jinan the clouds started rolling in with a looming threat of rain but seeing as we were done with our hike and most of the outdoor activities for the day we didn't much mind.  My co-teacher Anna called me earlier that morning with various restaurant recommendations for Jeonju, she wanted to make sure we got the best the city had to offer!  Joonwoo also had a friend living in the area so he called to confirm location and best restaurant for us, Korean hospitality at it's finest.  We went in a few circles once in the city but finally found the famous Gongung restaurant, more than ready to eat. I must admit I was a bit skeptical that bibimbap could really be that different but I was proven wrong, this was delicious.  The paejeon we got to accompany it was equally as good so it's safe so say I left the table with a full stomach and much improved mood, I was getting a bit hangry before we arrived. The second most famous part of Jeonju is the 한옥마을 [Traditional Hanok Village] so we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon walking around the area, although our visit was cut a bit short as we were all tired and the rain was on it's way. 

Tuesday night we made our way back to Joonwoo's house where we were all ready for bed by about 10 o'clock, except Joonwoo, he disappeared for a while.  We settled in for a movie, drifting in and out of sleep before once again preparing for a day of travels the next day. BIG thank you to Joonwoo for not only carting us around all day but also for opening his home to my brother, Katie and myself. I've definitely made some very valuable friendships during my time in Korea.  I'm happy that Beau and Katie were able to get the chance to meet many of them, and I can only hope that we will all stay in touch for many years to come. 


  1. For sure I need to come back to Korea - I want to relive that day with you and Joonwoo. What absolutely beautiful pictures (but then EVERYTHING is beautiful in Korea)! I'm also jealous that Beau & Katie got to have lunch with JoonWoo at a table WITH CHAIRS!!!! If I can't get there in 2014 - then 2015 for sure. Everytime I see your pictures and all your wonderful Korean friends, I miss it all over again and remember how wonderfully blessed I was to be able to go there for a visit.

    1. I'm glad to see you're reading my blog and all caught up! I'm about to post a piece about our trip last week so you'll have more to read. Maybe we can come back together to visit since I don't 'plan' on living here much longer. I did promise 진화 (one of my boys) that i'd visit every other year...had to talk him down from EVERY year.