Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chuseok Adventure

Chuseok is the Korean Thanksgiving. They give each other giant boxes of spam and such (I seriously saw so many 12x17 boxes that contained like 12 containers of spam while on the subway). They also all drive out of town for the holiday...south, to be exact.

Brigitte and I signed up to go on a group outing to Busan to learn to surf for the Chuseok holiday. We met up in Itaewon with the rest of the group at 730 Saturday morning. Apparently Itaewon is a very americanized, party area in Seoul because everywhere you looked you could see an American chain of some sort (taco bell, daminos, starbucks, etc.). Not to mention, people were just getting out of the clubs (we were very confused by the number of non-koreans there as well as why they were all talking to us, until we realized they were just getting done drinking for the night, at 7 am, and stumbling towards their beds). We met up with the tour group and got on the bus. Then we sat on the bus for 10 hours. 10 HOURS! This was supposed to be a 5 hour bus ride. We were told by our tour guide that were going to get to partake in a Chuseok tradition of sitting in traffic. Imagine 75% of Korea's population going south on the same freeway. 15% took a train to get somewhere and the other 10% didn't have to go anywhere at all. We stopped at a rest stop in the middle of the highway because the rest stop was full...and no, we weren't alone, many other people did the same thing. There were also 2 helicopters overhead (not sure what their purpose was, but it made for a very LOUD stop).
Traffic as far as the eye can see...and stopped buses on the side of the freeway.

When we finally arrive to Busan, we went to the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, which is one of the few in Korea located on the water. Unfortunately it was starting to get dark when we got there, but here is a picture of it.
That night we went from the beach we were staying at (Songjeong Beach) to Haeundae Beach, which is a huge cultural melting pot of people from around the world. 

The next day was surfing day. We woke up to pretty much zero waves on the beach, got our wetsuits, had our instruction, and fortunately, by the time we were in the water, there were some tiny waves to learn on. This beach was great for learning because the waves were small and our instructor could stand and instruct us and give us a push when the wave was coming and whatnot. WE could also stand so as to conserve our energy to paddle when a wave was coming. We lasted about 2 hours before I was completely wiped.
After my nap, Brigitte and I decided to go into Haeundae to explore more during the day time. We ran into our new friends and they were going to head to one of the biggest fish markets in Korea. Unfortunately we found out it was closed, so we hopped off the subway and found that we were on Gwangalli Beach, home of the  Gwangan Bridge, a huge shore with sea shells, and of course, ME World (which actually stands for Millak Entertainment, but I like it better as ME). Here is a picture of the beach and the bridge, which lights up at night. 

At ME world we got to ride a roller coaster and the ferris wheel. And let me tell you, although this roller coaster was short, and didn't do any crazy uppy downys, it would come to a turn that looked like you were gunna fall right over the edge...that was legitimately frightening. That night for Chuseok we had Korean BBQ (although from what I've been told, that wasn't true KBBQ).

Our last morning was spent walking around Songjeong beach a bit and sitting in the sun. We ended our trip with a 6 hour bus ride back to Suji and our travels were over.

All in all, so far so good. My right thumb has been swollen and unuseable the past 2 days so that's kinda strange. I'm hoping it just gets better until I have health insurance. Yesterday I bought what I thought was package of shampoo, conditioner and some other bottle of something (these are BIG bottles), come to find out this morning that they're actually ALL shampoo...I won't need to buy any shampoo the rest of my time in Korea I'm pretty sure. Oh the laughs a language barrier can bring.


  1. Great photos and story!! Keep em coming. Looks like you had a great time learning to surf and exploring the beach towns. Hope the thumb gets better. Maybe sprained it??