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Published: November 8th 2009
Mid-September I went to Busan for the 2nd time to visit Shannon and Rob. When I arrived Shannon and a lovely Spanish coach surfer, Mary, who was also staying with her for the weekend met me at the train station. We went to one of the major shopping areas and then made our way to Busan Tower. On our way up to the tower, we encountered a folk music performance on the stage just beneath the base of the tower. Shannon mentioned that she has seen performances like this happen here several times. The performers were dressed in hanboks (traditional Korean dress) and singing folk music accompanied by musicians who were sitting on the side of the stage. The most superior part of the scene was not found on stage, but rather to its side where an elderly woman was dancing. With her slow, precise movements she captivated not only my attention, but also the attention of the men seated near her. They also watched her with bright eyes, most likely remembering their younger days.
Last time, I had only been in the outdoor part of Jalgalchi Fish Market, where the seemingly thousands of sea creatures are already dead. This
time, we ventured into the indoor market where the fish are still alive and swimming in tanks, waiting for someone to come along and select them as dinner. In order to buy a fish/sea creature, simply point to the one you want. The woman will bring it out of the water and chop it up right then and there. While we were inside the market I saw a woman wrestling with a rather large fish who was not willing to be weighed without a fight. I watched her struggle with the fish for a short while but when I realized I did not want to watch her kill it, I turned away and hurried to catch up with Shannon and Mary.
After the sun went down, we headed down to the waterfront where we took off our socks and shoes and wadded through the sand. By this time of year the water was much to cold to possibly lure me into it but it was still nice to be able to run my feet through the sand. We crossed the street and took a table at a samgyupsal restaurant. This was Mary's first time at a restaurant like this
so it was fun to re-experience the novelty of the meal through her. When we read the menu there were so many different cuts of samgypsal that we didn't know which one to choose. We tried to get the waitress to tell us which was the best but in the end she recommended that we choose three different cuts of meat (one for each of us) and share. Both Shannon and I had never realized that was an option before. It was an extremely pleasant and satisfying meal. I always feel incredibly content after eating samgypsal or galbi meal. The meat and side dishes combination are so pleasing.
After everyone had called it a night back at Shannon and Rob's place, Ginger the cat decided to test my sparring skills before allowing me to actually go to sleep. This small, cute, innocent looking kitten wrongly assumed that me throwing her off of me in an attempt to go to sleep was actually an invitation to play. This unfortunate miscommunication, as well as her pouncing my face, ultimately ended up her being locked in the bedroom.
The next morning, Rob and Shannon headed off to church and Mary and
I set off exploring. We went to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, a Buddhist temple located in the rocks alongside the water. It was so gorgeous! It was a crystal clear, warm day and since we arrived early in the morning, there were not too many people there. After we passed through the tunnel and walked down the stairs to the small bridge, we saw an old Korean man teaching a young western man how to toss the coin into the water for good luck. The young man tried several times but could not hit the specific mark in the water. We walked around the temple for quite some time and looked at the different buildings. At one of them, we were encouraged by a middle aged man to take our shoes off and go inside. Although we relented to entering the temple, I did not feel comfortable bowing as he suggested. I felt that since I was not Buddhist it would be wrong for me to participate in bowing.
On our way out of the temple we stopped at the statue of Buddha that was tucked into the side of the wall. The part of the stone that made up
his belly, earlobes, and nose had turned a different color than the rest of the statue from all of the hands that had rubbed over it. Following the actions of the women in front of us, we added the oils of our hands to the stone, rubbing Buddha's belly and earlobes for good luck.
Our next and last adventure was to Haeudae Beach. It was the perfect weather for walking along the beach and also the perfect weather for scoring some decent sunburn on my neck and arms. Fortunately Mary had brought sunblock with her that I had applied to my face, but I had not thought the sun was strong enough to turn my neck and arms to a color similar to that of my pink shirt. After grabbing a mid-morning snack from a convenience store, we walked on the wooden stairs/bridge/path that wrapped around the rocks off to the right-hand side of the beach. It had been closed for renovations the last time I was there and I had expected something much more exciting than a road to be at its end.
Before long, Shannon called to let us know that they were home from chruch.
Before lunch, Shannon and I wiped the dust off of our double reed instruments and I played my oboe for the first time in many, many months. Although not unexpectedly, but yet still to my dismay, it indeed sounded that way. After we had enough of our out of tune duetting, we placed the instruments back in their cases and ate a delicious lunch complete with Costco cheese!! mmm! This cheese started a revolution in the lives of Mike and I. We had gone months without real cheese (aside from a singular occurrence in which we ordered a cheese and wine carafe from Outback Steak House and rejoiced at the tiny cubes of cheddar, blue cheese and two other kind of chesse that adorned the plate and dissolved in our mouths). Equipped with the knowledge that we could find blocks of cheese at Costco, we swiftly found and bought two 2lb blocks of cheese and ate them in a record setting and undoubtedly unhealthy amount of time.
Although Shannon, Rob, and Mary were heading to the beach to watch the sunset, something I longed to join them for, it was time for me to head back to the land
locked city of Daegu.
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