Greetings from South Korea! Many thanks to Korea Tourism Organization and Asiana Airlines for making this special journey possible. This week we will begin to discover this land of vibrant culture, fascinating history, delicious cuisine and inspiring natural beauty. South Korea is already a popular destination in Asia and intrigue is continuing to build in North America…
We began our journey in Korea’s second largest city, Busan. Located on the southeast coast of the Korean Peninsula, the seaside setting is stunning. Skyscrapers frame the winding shores, which are connected by bridges and tunnels. The mountainous landscapes are captivating. Our day starts with a panoramic view from the Busan Tower.
The Fish Market
The streets are alive here — literally! Tanks, buckets, containers and trays are filled with creatures of the sea: octopus, abalone, crab, eel and fish of every shape and size. This is the largest fish market in Korea and a feast to the senses. Dried and butchered fish are also available. Stands offer samples and restaurants abound. The vendors are nearly all women - traditionally the men fish and the women sell.
I do enjoy fish, but was not quite ready to sample live octopus! Perhaps later in the journey I will have built up more resiliency. For now I still could not quite wrap my head around how the severed tentacles were all still moving (?). My colleagues were much braver than I and for now I am pleased with a “delicious” vicarious experience. The cooked items at Marina Blue Kitchen fueled me amply for the balance of this busy day.
We begin our journey toward the north with a visit to Gyeongju. Seokguram Grotto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site constructed in the 8th century, is home to a majestic granite Buddha. This structure and symbol are representative of the Silla Kingdom of Korea. The forested setting and walk to the grotto are tranquil. Tumuli Park and Cheonmachong, the heavenly horse tomb, are equally impressive. This burial chamber was excavated in the early 1970s and is believed to date from the 5th or 6th century. It is incredible to learn how these tombs were created and to view the treasures discovered inside.
This exciting first day concludes with a flavorful dinner at a local restaurant. The Korean cuisine is wonderfully varied. We enjoyed more than a dozen different dishes! Learning the names surely comes on a later day — photos must suffice for now ;)
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