27 December 2010

Christmas Aurora in Busan

I scoured the internet and I couldn't find any term for the day after Christmas besides Boxing Day.  But since most of the people reading my blog are American, that wasn't gonna work.  So I decided to make up my own.  Since the day before Christmas is Christmas Eve, I went with the Latin word for dawn.  It also fit pretty well considering all of the lights I ended up seeing in Busan.  So I like it and I'm sticking with it (I thought about the Korean word for morning, which is 아침 or achim, but I think Christmas Aurora is pretty catchy).  

I once again stayed out until 4 in the morning on Christmas Eve because of my inability to catch the 12:30 train home (I really gotta stop doing that cause it's messing up my travel plans).  So the fact that I didn't get to sleep until 5 combined with the fact that the high was about 20 degrees meant I had a pretty layed back Christmas Day.  But don't worry!  I made up for it on the day after Christmas.  I spent about 10 hours (from 10:15 to 8:15) exploring Busan on Sunday and I think I've seen pretty much everything that I wanted to visit in the city during the winter months.

So after arriving in Busan I caught the Subway up to City Hall.  City Hall wasn't quite as great as I had hoped, but the building across the street was pretty cool.

Building across from City Hall
From City Hall I walked up to Chungnyeolsa, which is a shrine commemorating those who died defending Korea during the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592.  Although the shrine has been rebuilt, the original dates to 1605 and the complex is composed of 16 buildings.

I then got a little lost looking for a Confucian Academy, but I eventually found my way.  When you're in a country where you can't read the signs particulary well it can be a little tough to stay on track.  But anyway, I found the academy and then headed up to Dongnae Fortress.  The fortress had a pretty extensive wall surrounding various command platforms situated along the wall.  It is one of the highest points in the city and offers beautiful views from the top.  I wasn't planning on visiting this site, but I actually ended up spending a good amount of time hiking around.

My success in finding the Confucian Academy was followed by a failure to find Busan World Cup Stadium.  I could see the stadium from the top of Dongnae Fortress, but I was unable to locate it while wondering on the street.  I figured I could save that for another day because I really wanted to get to Taejongdae before sunset.  Taejongdae is part of Yeong Island and is the area I was looking for last weekend when I randomly ended up at Korea Maritime University.  It offers some great views of the Korea Strait and it has an observatory at which you can view Mangbuseok, or the legendary rock of the faithful woman.  Personally, I wasn't that impressed with the rock formation, but I got some nice pictures of the sunset.

The setting sun meant it was finally time for the Christmas Tree Light Festival.  And let me tell you.  Koreans love lights.  The major department store in the area changed colors.  Busan Tower had a laser light show.  And the Christmas Tree Festival was pretty extensive.  After I wandered around the Festival, I bought a ticket to go to the Busan Tower observatory.  This could have been awesome, but the lights in the observatory were pretty bright so I wasn't able to get very good pictures of the city.  I'm thinking I'll head back during the daytime and see what kind of pictures I can get.

So all in all I got to see 3 separate areas of the city, went to a Christmas festival, and read an entire book.  I would say it was a pretty successful day.  Next weekend I'm heading into Daegu on New Years Eve and then I'm on my way up to Seoul for 4 days (I have off from work on the Monday and Tuesday after New Years).

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