After an exciting first half to the year Summer was upon us. It was our first experience of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and I was looking forward to the heat. It had, after all, been around 18 months since we had hot weather and I needed to thaw out.
July - December
As we concluded in Part One of our 2016 adventure, my mother had come to visit us in South Korea and early July saw us visiting the South of South Korea, Busan.
Busan, South Korea
Beach time!!! After living away from the ocean for a solid 8 months we were missing the water. We both grew up living close to the sea, and when we say close I mean you can see it from our family homes and walk there within 5 minutes. I was unable to contain my excitement as we boarded our plane from Gimpo airport to Busan. When we arrived the weather had other ideas, a storm was whipping up and the forecast predicted a steady downpour of rain. So, alas, our dreams of lazing on the beach in the sunshine were dashed.
That didn't mean we were going to lay down and take it, though. We threw ourselves forward, with some degree of reckless abandon, to find the best indoor activities. The first, was not actually indoor at all. We decided to visit the Lotte Water Park at Gimhae. Taking a train directly from the airport, we spent the day splashing down waterslides and getting our fill of adrenaline.
Back in Busan we attempted to take on Busan's Gamcheon artist's village during a stroke of dry weather. We ambled through the colourful constructs before the dark clouds rolled over and the rain poured down. We sought refuge in an ambling cafe, where the tables were aloft a steep staircase, in the attic, and watched the rain come and stay for a few hours. We gave up on our hopes of further exploring the art village as the rain continued to pelt us, and made our way back, after destroying 3 umbrellas, to the city.
Trick Eye Museums are a very popular attraction in many Korean cities. For those who are not familiar with this phenomenon, it is essentially a photo opportunity. The exhibition is set up so that visitors can pose with pictures, forced perception sets, and other 'movie set' mock ups and take pictures. Hilarity ensues, as you can see from the photographs below.
Although we may not have had any beach time, Busan was a fun little getaway and we enjoyed exploring markets, temples, and the city. After saying goodbye to Mum, so many tears, we set about ploughing through the busiest time of the year for our school. It was for this reason that we went for so long without a break. After saving up all our leave, and after completing our first one year contract, we had four weeks of leave.
Our trip through Vietnam commenced in Hanoi, trekking and cruising the north. From there were explored the history of Central Vietnam, spending time in Hoi An, Hue, Danang and My Son. To finish our trip we transited through Nha Trang, onto Dalat, where we attempted some adrenaline sports, and flew back to Korea from Saigon. We have written many stories about our adventures in Vietnam, to check those out click here.
After returning from our longest trip this year, in October, we thought we were done for the year. But as fate would have it, or the gods of the work schedule, we found we had a four day weekend and another chance to escape before the year was done. After returning from a trip, as many of you would also feel, one feels the urge to book the next one. Two days out from our long weekend we decided to book a flight to Jeju Island, South Korea's south eastern island, famous for it's mountain.
Jeju, South Korea
We had wanted to visit ever since we discovered it was home to South Korea's tallest mountain, Hallasan. With this in mind, and the winter fast approaching, we spent 3 days on this charming island, often dubbed 'the Hawaii of Korea'. I feel that is a rather liberal description. Here we explored cafes; one of which we spent an hour playing Uno and drinking spectacular brews, climbed mountains, and, as per usual, ate everything on offer. To read more about our adventures in Jeju, and our experience climbing Hallasan, click here.
Jeju was our last trip for the year and it was a nice way to finish a year full of new experiences and travel adventures. In all we visited three new countries; Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan. If you count stepping across into North Korea, it would be four!