I want to travel as much as possible during these next few months before the weather becomes unbearably cold. The first place on my list was Busan, Korea’s second largest city. This is my third time in this port city and it will not be my last. Busan is special to me because it is there that I took my first steps on Korean land since I was a parentless three-month old. I remember feeling anxious on the flight from Bangkok, being surrounded by Korean people for the first time in my life. When the flight attendant gave me the customs form in Korean, I got embarrassed to ask for it in English. I studied hangeul on the plane and said my first Korean words when I exchanged my money at the bank. “Gam-sa-ham-ni-da”. My nerves finally calmed when I met a Dutch girl at the hostel and she brought me to meet her Korean adoptee friend who had been living in Korea for some time. It was a miracle I ended up meeting a few other adoptees living in Busan who generously showed me around, traveled with me to Gyeongju, and let me crash at their place for a week. We shared adoption stories and feelings; we all had different stories. I felt a sense of comfort. If it weren’t for them, I would be lost in Korea. I didn’t know any of the language nor have I really eaten the food. That first week in Korea was unforgettable. Busan will always be my favorite city in Korea.
We chose a perfect weekend to go. There wasn’t a single drop of rain and the sun shone like it was Florida (minus the humidity. It was a nice relief from the typhoon season. We slept in the jjimjilbang, which is basically a slumber party in a huge room at the sauna, with a nice view of Gwangalli Beach and the colorful lit up bridge. We walked in parks along the beach, visited a gorgeous temple paired with cliffs, stumbled upon a random and gigantic free aquarium/fishery museum, gawked at the sea animals at the Jagalchi fish market, discovered an incredibly cute and hip coffee shop in an alley, and ate fish barbecue.
Perhaps my favorite night time spot in all of Korea is Gwangalli Beach. There is always some sort of live music at the stage near the beach. I never heard two of the same genres. This time, there was some kind of dance party with obnoxious techno music, so we scooted away from that area so we can have somewhat of a peaceful time on the beach. We loaded up on our drinks of choice from the convenience store, mine being the Korean rice wine, makeolli, two bottles worth a buck a piece. Jason, a sarcastic but sweet friend from Gwangju/Tennessee, invited some Busanian friends to join us on this popular night spot. You can spot dozens of other Korean friend circles and even some people shooting off roman candles and other sorts of fireworks. They’re easy to purchase from the old ladies coming around and forcefully selling them. The most unique part of this beach is the bridge. The lights twinkle brightly as they gradually change colors. It is a very special spot! After finishing our drinks, we stumbled around the happening beaches that were overflowing with people, Koreans and foreigners alike. We ventured to the Jersey shore-esque amusement park. Apparently, going on the swinging boat ride called the Viking was the best idea we could think of at the moment. I screamed and giggled and cheered like I was at the Middlesex County fair, only full of alcohol rather than funnel cake.