Last year, on New Year's, Min Gi and I were planning to go see the sunrise at Haeundae beach in Busan. It's a very popular tradition in Korea to see the sunrise on the beach on the first day of the year. However, I missed out. So he suggested we go for Christmas. I started thinking maybe we could catch the last sight of Santa's sleigh as he left Asia for America (haha).
We woke up early to catch a 2 a.m. train to Haeundae and arrived at 5 a.m., just when all the clubbing folks were heading to the subway after a night of fun. While there weren't many Christmas lights up, there were lots of city night lights up, like this dizzyingly tall sign marking the businesses in one building.
The ocean front was cold, but we were very bundled up, so we felt nice at first and were having a great time relaxing on the dark, empty beach, listening to the waves and watching some stars. After about 15 minutes, it felt pretty cold again just sitting there, so we walked up and down from one end of the beach to the other to stay warm. Around 6:40, we settled back in to watch the sun rise.
Unfortunately, it was a bit too cloudy on the horizon. We watched the light slowly fill up the sky, but not a proper sunrise. It's been too long since I've watched a sunset or a sunrise... Something I miss.
Finally, we were too cold, so we got up and looked for a restaurant for a yummy Christmas breakfast.
Since we had a few hours before we had to meet my friend Rebecca for a yummy Christmas brunch, we decided to take a nap in a jjimjilbang. Jjimjilbangs are kind of like Korean saunas that have separate male and female bath houses and a joint room where you can sit in the hot rooms or take a nap on the floor. We asked around and found a nice one in Seomyeon (the downtown area of Busan where two subway lines intersect). Only one Korean woman stared at me the whole time I showered, so I call that a victory (usually, as the only foreigner, I'm stared at by at least five naked women while I shower). We caught a very pleasant two hour nap before heading to the pancake brunch.
Some people say that Korean architecture is identical everywhere (and ugly), and so it seems to a certain extent, but I really enjoy visiting other cities because there are subtle differences, such as the way Busan's buildings are worked around the mountains that run through it, or the way Seoul is designed around the Han river and Daegu is all flat in the valley that is surrounded by huge peaks. Although the architecture may not be spectacular, the cunning ways engineers figure out to work with the land to make population density as efficient as possible is impressive. I may prefer to live in a land with more beautiful buildings and more accessible greenspace, but I admire the ingenuity of tetris-like land use in Korea.
Check out the rest of our Christmas beach adventure:
|Busan at Dawn on Christmas|
We rounded out the evening with a potluck dinner at Ju-ick's house. She made the very special Christmas announcement that she and another Canadian friend of ours, Rick James, are now officially a couple! Yay for Christmas romance.