01.22.2012 - 01.25.2012 11 °F
In early January we got a special surprise. Two friends, Tommy & Chris, decided to adventure out of America and visit us in good ole' SK before we made our final departure. We had one last small break from school for 설날 (Korean Lunar New Year). In the past year and a half we've traveled to China, Japan, and other large cities in Korea but we had one last big thing on our Korean Bucket list. We were so interested in seeing the Korean countryside and getting a peak into the lifestyle outside of the chaotic life in Busan. About 80% of the population in South Korea lives in cities, mostly in Seoul. Our goal was to set out and see as much of the countryside as we could in 4 days. We were also so excited to be able to share this experience with friends from home. While we skype with our families, write this blog, and try to take lots of pictures, none of it can compare to actually experiencing this life we've created in Korea first hand. Tommy and Chris would now be the only people from home that would have had that insiders look at what our "secret Korean life" holds.
After purchasing an atlas, getting t-shirts made, and purchasing some pretty ridiculous animal hats, we felt we were ready to take the Korean Roadway by storm!
This is the route that we took over the course of the road trip.
After being reunited with some incredible friends; on Sunday, we all packed into our sweet Hyundai, and got ready to have some fun.
We headed up the east coast up the most rural district of Busan, Gijang. While only 20 minutes away from home, this area is drastically different. The majority of land is either vacant or used for agriculture. This area is also known for it's seafood and fishing ports as it's located directly on the Sea of Japan. Our first stop was in a small, old fishing port called Daebyeonhang Port. This port sees the richest harvest of anchovies in Korea. Maybe it's because old fishing boats and older fishermen remind me of my Pa, but for some reason or another I absolutely love to walk around the ports and take pictures of the boats and fishermen.
We had a rule that if someone in the car yelled "하지 마" (Korean for stop), we had to stop and do something fun and adventurous. Our first 하지 마 was at Jinha Beach. We didn't make it far but the boys were already hungry so we showed Chris and Tommy so of our favorite street food. Joe ordered them some steamed dumplings while I got them my favorite pastry. It's essentially crispy pancake batter on the outside with custard on the inside. They come in the shapes of different animals and are just fantastic!
Once we got back in the car we headed to Andong for our first night. Andong is the home of Confucianism in Korea. This city was also the home to much of the noble class during the Joseon Dynasty. Many of these homes still stand today so Andong provides a wonderful opportunity to experience the essence of traditional Korean lifestyles. Queen Elizabeth actually spent her birthday in 1999 in Andong. We had the opportunity to see a traditional Korean village and since it was Lunar New Year Day, we were basically the only people there. It was really beautiful.
causing trouble since c. 1994
After some freezing cold traditional folk village experiences, we headed to lunch. Andong is famous for its jjimdak so we went to Andong Gu Market which literally means chicken alley. This dish is made of chicken, a variety of different vegetables and noodles, all marinated in Korean soy sauce. All those crazy meat-eaters enjoyed this quite a bit!
Another 하지 마 stop:
And yet another 하지 마:
For our second night we stayed at the Muju Ski Resort. It was nice to see the slopes but it was 12*. Tommy & Chris got to experience their first night in a traditional Korean hotel, where you get no beds but rather sleep on the floor. We've been friends since we were 10 years old, when's the last time we had a good old fashioned sleep over?!?! Thanks to discomfort we were able to wake up really early, see a beautiful sunrise, and get a jump start on our day.
"where are the beds??"
On the next day we headed to the Southwest area of the country to see a bamboo forest. We couldn't get there without another 하지 마. This time at Jirisan Rest Stop where the boys got crazy and decided to climb a monument. There must be something in the water in Jefferson but none of us can seem to keep our feet on the ground.
Just as we arrived at the Damyang Bamboo Forest it began to snow. It was the first time we've gotten to see snow in almost two years so it was quite exciting.
On our last night we stayed at the Hwasun resort which was basically an indoor water park in the middle of nowhere. We got a room early, purchased some cheap beer at the convenience store downstairs, and ended up having one of the best nights we've had in Korea right in our bed-less room. Goes to show you that all you need in life is a few great friends to have a lot of fun. We got to go bowling in our hotel and the next morning woke up early to play in the water park before heading back to Busan.
We had a great time and now, with only 10 days left in Korea, we can say we got to see the majority of the country.
Now for the greatest part of this whole blog. We purchased a video camera to take with us backpacking and we made our first video compilation to document the fun we had. ENJOY!