Holy Holi!

This past weekend, my friend Kaylee and I traveled by train to Busan. Busan is South Korea’s second largest city, following Seoul. What’s really cool about Busan is that it’s a coastal city. If you’ve ever been to San Francisco in the States, the terrain and all-over “feel” of the city is the same. And so, having visited San Fran in high school and having fallen in love with it immediately upon arrival, as I expected, I fell equally in love with Busan. Suffice it to say that if I wasn’t in Daegu, which I also love, I’d want to be in Busan.

Fortunately for us, Kaylee and I met our Korean friend, Hailey, in training when we first arrived in Korea. Hailey was raised and still lives in Busan. She’s the sweetest person EVER, and picked us up from the train station, helped us around the subway through the city, and took us to our hostel. We then spent the day with her: lunch, bus adventure, Haedong Yonggung Temple, and Starbucks.

Hailey took us to the only Buddhist temple in Korea that is built right next to – and literally into – the seaside. It’s incredibly beautiful and serene. If there was ever a perfect spot for any kind of religious dwelling, it would have been here. The view was not only breathtaking, but the temple fortress itself make the scene even more incredible. The temple, built in 1374, is still used and visited today by hundreds of thousands of people who come to pay their respects. We were both enamored by the beauty of the surroundings as well as the tranquility of the place. While it was an awesome experience, we still had a little fun! There are stone sculptures EVERYWHERE, and we couldn’t resist taking some fun photos. Click on the photo here or in the link above to be transported to another site where you can see all my photos to get the full effect of the weekend. Or, if you’re on Facebook, I have an album named “Busan, Haedong Yonggung Temple, and Holi Hai!”

Kaylee and I decided a few weeks ago, not long after our arrival in SK, that we would travel to B-town together to attend an annual Indian festival – Holi Hai – which is when the Indian culture celebrates new life, the coming of spring, peace, love, and happiness. It was appropriately scheduled to take place on Easter Sunday at the MOST FAMOUS beach in Busan – Haeundae Beach. (Note there’s a “u” in there, and it is pronounced “HAY-OON-DAY.” Not to be confused with the vehicular company, HYUNDAI Motors. Not the same, folks…) Traditionally, Indians gather together for a time of eating, drinking, dancing, and more importantly, throwing colored powder and paint at one another. So, if you’re doing the proverbial math in your head, you should probably have drawn the connection by now that Kaylee and I were going to be on the beach on Easter. With a bunch of total strangers. Throwing color and paint. MAIN POINT OF THIS STORY: We’re going to come out looking like the coolest Easter eggs EVER.

Here are some other highlights of our weekend that I feel are equally important to share in some capacity, in no particular order:

1. I finally made it to Starbucks in SK. It was good to be back! I also confirmed that I can INDEED buy Sbux coffee here – it’s just a bit more expensive. Some things are worth it!

2. We never got really “lost.” This is a big deal for two very directionally challenged women.

3. I finally encountered my first Asian “squatty potty” and I passed! Covered in color from the Holi festival, I squatted, tinkled, and made no mess. This is a big deal, as I’ve been worried about how such an experience would turn out.

4. I may have a great memory when it comes to some things, but I still forget to pack obvious, important things when taking a weekend trip, like pajamas.

5. I still love the ocean with every fiber of my being.

6. This weekend, I encountered a mild, semi-exact look at what my hair will be like this summer. It’s not a good look.

7. There are some things you just can’t be prepared enough for in a foreign country, like riding a bus. If you don’t hold on, you will not survive.

8. If you thought Koreans looked at you funny simply because you are tall, blonde, and have blue eyes, try walking around caked in colored powder and paint. Then, travel to your home city, where no one knows there was a festival just down the peninsula, and walk through the subway station with a great, big PINK line across your forehead that wouldn’t come off when you tried to wash your face. That’ll get their attention…

9. Postcards are literally IMPOSSIBLE to find in Korea. They’re completely OBSOLETE. So if you’re looking for one, you might as well just give up before you begin.

AND…

10. Dunkin’ Doughnuts in South Korea might be better than DD’s in the Americas…

So, long story short, Kaylee and I had a great time at the festival. We did indeed come out looking like Easter eggs, and I couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy a beautiful weekend in my new country.

If you’re more interested in the full history of the Holi festival, you can read about it here:

http://www.holifestival.org/.

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