Travels through Korea

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


Plant Life for Stu (And a Dip Into the Past)

One of my favourite people in the world is a guy called Stu.  

We met somewhere back in the Doc-Martened recesses of grade 10, circa 1994, in the parking lot or the multi-purpose room or the blue-lockered hallways of Stelly’s Secondary, the exact moment and location either erased or too far embedded in my memory to recall, but the friendship, wherever its beginning bud sprouted, destined to grow full bloom the following year, in a place where a now vague but once vivid artistic dream of mine flourished: Drama Class.


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.


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.


Seoul, Sister.

And off we went. On a slow train. To Seoul.


Hanging out Hillside: The Somaemuldo Mission

After the mid-April trip to Bijindo island, during which our inspiration to camp on the beach with an open fire was half-squelched by the local ajummas (the beach camping was a success, the open fire vetoed in loud, vehement Korean ), Joe’s and my vision for Somaemuldo was somewhat simpler: we just wanted to camp, period.  A fire isn’t necessary in the night heat of July, and from the maps we’d skimmed, beach access on this small (population 50!), rocky ocean jem southwest of Tongyeong looked limited, if not non-existent.  All we wanted to pitch a tent was a flat plot of land, ideally with a little open space surrounding it.  This potential one-night nature haven had to exist somewhere on the island….right?


Toilet Creatures

I’m not sure why the public bathroom on Somaemuldo features faceless metal creatures with fork hands guiding visitors to its entrance, but it does.  And I love them.  Korea, you continue to surprise me.

The guy on the left appears in need of the facilities himself...


Somaemuldo View

Sometimes you just want to hop a 7 a.m. boat from Tongyeong, down a bowl of spicy ramen on an island called Somaemuldo, hike up a massive hill, and park your body on a grassy slope all afternoon, watching the rocks shift colour in the sun.


Johnathan, Sun Break

A couple weeks ago I went to an overnight beach party with a group of friends and a couple hundred other people somewhere along the east coast, an hour or two from Daegu.  It rained the whole day.  Monsoon-style fat drops, with only a few drizzle breaks. My umbrella went missing.  We drank too much beer.  And then, at sunset, it stopped.

Johnathan, the shoreline, the sky.


An Ajumma Stole My Firewood

Well, technically it was Joe’s firewood.  He wrestled it from the brush on the hill behind the beach on Bijindo, the island we chose for our one-night camping trip in April mostly because I tracked down photos of it on a foreign dude’s blog, and in the photos foreigners were camping.  On the beach.  With a campfire.  “Check these out,” I said to Joe.  ”Looks like you can have a fire on Bijindo.”  

Anyone who’s traveled in Korea knows it’s tough to find seclusion.  Forty-nine million people live here, in a country three times the size of Vancouver Island. Head to the beach or the mountains or a paved park on the edge of the city and prepare yourself for company: Koreans love a dose of fresh air, even if they are a little sun-shy, as their detachable arm sleeves and foot-long visors suggest.


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