We first spotted Snow Castle while doing a little aerial reconnaissance of our neighborhood on Google Maps. A big, curvy building on the end of Hwangryungsan mountain? Interesting... and what's that shape on the ground? [zoom] Is that a... [zoom]... yes that's definitely a giant skier in front of the hall.
On our first visit to the top of Mt. Geumjeongsan, we had ascended in a cable car and hiked from the South to East Gate. It was an all-day excursion, but we were only able to see a fraction of the gigantic mountain fortress which extends across the summit, and so vowed to return. Our second trip would start at the Northern Gate, bring us to Godangbong Peak and end with a well-deserved feast in the village of Sanseong.
Established in the year 678, Beomeosa is probably the most important Buddhist temple in Busan. And with its location in the foothills of Mt. Geumjeongsan, it's certainly among the most beautiful. Entering the complex is like stepping into another world, one more sacred and peaceful.
Perhaps it's not surprising that we've had our most adventurous Korean meals when accompanied by Koreans. I think that locals enjoy pushing our boundaries -- whether it's to introduce us to new foods, or just because they like watching us squirm. So far, we've only said "no" once -- and that was when an overly enthusiastic Korean invited us to a restaurant serving dog. Silk worm larvae or twitching octopus? Fine. But dog meat is a step too far!
The beginning of the summer has hit Busan, and the city seems to be celebrating with a raft of festivals. There's the International Car Show, a River Sports Festival, an International Dance Festival, a Port Festival, and a Traditional Folk Festival... and this all in the first week of June! We felt a little guilty skipping out on all of them, so decided to check out the Sand Festival at Haeundae Beach.
Among the best experiences we've had in Busan have been our visits to Sajik Stadium to watch the Giants. Any American baseball fan who's ever complained about their team's high ticket prices, expensive food and drink, or paltry attendance, should definitely pencil in a day at the park while in Busan. This is the stadium experience perfected.
Armed with a map of Busan's best walks, a bottle of water and bellies full of doughnut-power, we set off on a long hike through the peninsular neighborhood of Amnan-Dong, southwest of Nampo. The seven-kilometer route would bring us over the Namhang Bridge to Songdo Beach, and down the coast to Amnan Park.
Golden dragons, Lady Gaga knockoffs and... Mike getting eaten by a shark?! A walk around Busan is nothing if not consistently entertaining. Besides bizarre city scenes, this photo set includes a lot of shots which highlight Busan's connection with the sea.
We first spotted the Oryukdo Islands toward the end of our hike down the coast of Igidae Park. A string of rocky and uninhabited landmasses, these islands are the most notable feature along Busan's coastline. In order to get a better look, we took an evening ferry trip which looped around them.
Set at the foot of the Baegyangsan Mountain in central Busan, Samgwangsa is a massive temple with enough room for 10,000 worshipers. And there were approximately that many present when we visited on a balmy May evening shortly before Buddha's birthday.