Do, See, Try: Stuff I Recommend

Spiders, Cows, and Anapji Pond: Gyeongju by Bike

Yep–one more post on Gyeongju.  It’s not every day I get to ride around on a fall afternoon in the Korean countryside…so I took a lot of pics.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading, everyone!

Hanging to dry

Amanda in the flower field


Rice Paddy Chilli Peppers

 


Gyeongju Tree Heaven

Back in the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries, Korea was ruled by a kingdom called Silla.  Its capital was Gyeongju–a city northeast of Busan and an hour and a half by train. It’s loaded with history: hilly tombs called Tumuli, a royal pond called Anapji, and a temple called Bulguksa are just a few of the sites that draw crowds in the thousands to explore.


Wine Party (in the park)

There’s a park in Victoria, my Canada home, called Beacon Hill.  It’s huge and beautiful. Weeping willows and cherry blossoms and peacocks and families of fat ducks floating on ponds.  Baby goats in a petting zoo.  Stone bridges crossing water.  Miles of grass. My mom took my brother and I there to feed the ducks when we were kids, breaking off crumbs from old loaves of bread she saved for the outings in our freezer. I know, you’re not supposed to feed animals in parks, but it was common then (I think?), and my mom loved to toss the crumbs on the ground and let the ducks swarm the feast at our feet, listening to their quacks and the west-coast wind that gusted off the Pacific at the edge of the park.  Those days were shortly after we moved to Victoria from Saskatoon, to be closer to the ocean, my mom said, and the artists there.


Dadaepo Birthday Sky

When I was a kid my birthday always fell somewhere around the first day of school.  No big deal, though I do remember a few tears in grade one: everybody more stoked about their fancy new pencil cases than the fact I was turning six.

Now I love September.  Before moving to Korea I spent a year in Edmonton, Alberta, and in the fall there I began to run through the river valley in the evenings, when there was still enough light to see the leaves scattered across the path in loose piles, red and yellow and the last bit of summer green hanging on.  Despite the trees shedding their colour, fall feels new.  And hopeful.

This year, I celebrated the birthday on a Busan beach called Dadaepo…


Deokjeokdo Bliss: 41 Hours, 39 Pics

Any of you who have been following Coco Busan over the last year and a half (thanks, everyone!) have likely noticed my fondness for Korean islands.  I’ve visited six of them now, escaping the homogeny of the city buildings and immersing myself, temporarily, into the more traditional lifestyle and architecture that lingers on these slow-paced refuges. Bright rooftops and forests of fat green trees frame the small villages that make up this part of Korea’s culture.  Fishing boats glow in the night waters; narrow roads wind up toward silouhetted hills; the sound of families cooking dinner drifts into my minbak windows, unobstructed by cars.  Yep, I like these places. When I leave, six months from now, the islands will stay with me.

So of course I had to show one to my sister.


Green Water White Sand Bijindo Teaser

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Finding the Snow Fields: Road to Nari Basin

I realize it’s mid-April, and photos of snowy Korean fields on an island off the east coast might contradict the reality of bursting cherry blossoms along my neighbourhood stream in Busan (as well as trigger an unexpected chill in my Canadian readers who are enjoying the thaw of spring), but snowy fields is what I’ve got to show you.

They were taken in a place called the Nari Basin, which is the only flat stretch of land on Ulleungdo–yep, I’m still posting about Ulleungdo (the island was gorgeous, why stop now?)–and surrounded on all sides by volcanic mountains.

Like most places we ventured to during our off-season stay in early February, the Basin, we discovered, wasn’t accessible by local transport.


Death of a Laptop and Ulleungdo in Late Winter

Hello everybody!

The busy level here in Busan has cranked up about nine notches in the last couple weeks, hence my lack of Coco posts and pics.  I’ve got a couple new projects on the go, and as my Toshiba died its final death in early January, my current computer time is a juggle of brief breaks at school and late hours in the dungeon-like PC bong below my apartment building, where I prep essay-writing lectures while sitting wedged between teenage Korean gamers playing Starcraft.  At least I think that’s what they’re playing.  I slap the headphones on pretty quickly, click onto CBC Radio 2, and tune into the Classical station, attempting to drown out the sound of gunshots and K-pop blasting from both sides of my cubicle.  It almost works.


Budget Luxury #2: Hydrate Your Face, Unwind Your Mind Under 2,000 Won

If you’ve popped into any of the Korean body/bath/beauty-type shops spotted on the street, in the underground, or at your nearest Lotte department store, you’ve probably noticed the ubiquitous paper packages displaying pictures of fruit or flowers paired with the word “mask”  and “sheet.”  The first time I shelled out a couple coins for one, I assumed the contents would be something like the face masks in North America–a creamy texture you slather on and let work its hopeful magic for 20 minutes or so as it dries into a cakey film on your skin and you putter around in pyjamas hoping no one drops by.

The ones here are different.

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