Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Temple By the Sea and a traditional Korean meal

A couple of weeks ago, we met a woman through one of the Korean teachers.  She invited us to lunch and a day of exploration in Busan.  We gladly accepted the invite for last Saturday.  After a bus ride and quick trip on the subway, we were picked up in a car!  Sounds pretty mundane to you I’m sure, but most people (at least those that we know) don’t have cars.  I don’t blame them.  The driving here is scary.  I mean SCARY.  It’s not rare for drivers to go through red lights, and pedestrians who value their lives shouldn’t assume they have the right of way at any time.

The taxi rides we've had so far have not been the most pleasant.  Taxi drivers here seem to specialize in what my dad calls “barf driving.”   The term refers to stop-and-go traffic, where a driver pulls up as close as he can to the car in front of his.  Then (as he has nowhere to go) he's inevitably forced to slam on his brakes.  This repeats again and again, thus making the passengers want to barf.  Anyway, I always seem to get off topic!  Back to our day…

We took our first trip on the freeway, then a windy journey into the countryside of Busan.  The landscape was green, hilly and beautiful.  Finally we arrived at Hurgsiru, a traditional Korean restaurant and Bonsai tree farm.  Once we parked, we took in groups of Bonsai trees, large pots used for fermenting kimchi, and a museum and gift shop.

We were then led to the restaurant itself.  To our surprise, we had our very own clay hut.  We removed our shoes at the door and went inside.  The room consisted of a long table, heated floor mat, small window and greenery at our feet.

The two Korean women debated a bit, and ordered our food.  We were brought hot water, rice juice (very sweet and delicious), and lots and lots of food.  I have already mentioned the side dishes that come with the main dishes here, but this was unlike any other place.  The bowls of soup, sauce, vegetables, meat, noodles and rice just kept coming.

The only thing that we actually ordered was the pumpkin on the left.  It had roasted duck inside.  Every other item on the table was a “side dish.”  We were meant to wrap a lettuce leaf around the endless dishes of noodles, meats, vegetables, kimchi and garlic.  I thought the wraps were delicious and loved the baked pumpkin.  Ryan enjoyed the duck a lot as well.  We were told this style and type of food was traditional for Korea.

Once we had sufficiently stuffed ourselves, we were on to sightseeing.  A short drive soon revealed our first glimpse of one of the main beaches in Busan, Hauendae.  
We hear the summers in Busan are phenomenal.  Can’t wait!

We arrived at Haedong Yonggung Temple (also known as Temple by the sea), parked and walked down a narrow pathway.  It was marked on both sides with small vendors selling food, crafts and artwork.  The waffles were delicious but I couldn't muster the courage to try the mystery seafood below.

At the end of the pathway was an explanation of each of the twelve Asian Zodiac symbols, complete with a caricature of each.  Ryan was born the year of the boar, I was born the year of the rat.  

The rest of our exploration down the hill (and back up another) included at least three beautiful Buddha statues, multiple prayer rooms, and traditional Buddhist monks burning prayers.   
 Not to mention the beautiful oceanside that was the backdrop for it all.

Amongst the beauty, Ryan even saw a boat of fisherman. This was undoubtedly his favorite part of the day.  The sighting further fueled his current mission: get out on the water and catch some local fish.  We will keep you posted on that of course.


  1. Thanks for the update! I can finally breathe again.
    All work at the framers so I am officially done.
    The work is in the gallery's hands, not mine.
    These posts are a delight to read. Not only fun and interesting, but the photos are first rate.
    I sent a link to Judy Mann and she wrote back saying she thought you guys were really good photographers. She should know.
    She has traveled all over the world and has been publishing her photos for 50 years. Keep up the great work!

  2. Wow! The pictures look amazing!!! I'm so jealous! I can't wait to see more!