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Busan Top Five

I’m behind on my blogging by weeks. The ideas or thoughts that I’d like to share follow me around during my daily tasks. But, by the time the girls are tucked in, the dishes are done, and the coffee for tomorrow is made, I have no interest in writing. Instead I tune into Schitt’s Creek or Little House on the Prairie, a healthy balance of binge watching for the evening. But it’s late on Tuesday night and I want to share our weekend in Busan.

Three or so weeks ago we headed to Busan. Busan is known in South Korea for its beaches. So you know I’m all in.  It should be a little over 3 hour drive from our home. That is if you don’t realize you have a screw in your tire 10 miles down the road. Sorry, 16 kilometers. It was a long drive from there. Here are my highlights from our long


1. On our drive down we pull off the toll road for a quick pit stop. There’s nothing quick about our stops. I think I’ve mentioned this before. I should remove this word from my vocabulary for a few years. In my head we are just going to stop for a quick moment, go to the bathroom, feed the girls lunch and get back on the road. An hour later we are just about to gas up and hit the highway. I’ve got a box full of what I think are some sort of hot Nutella filled donuts. Spoiler: they are not. More of a moist jelly chestnut dough ball. So, I’m closing back up the box while Tim is trying to translate the keypad at the gas station. All of the sudden a siren goes off and a red light is flashing above our gas pump. Did we win something? What’s going on here? The attendant rushes over, looks at the screen, looks at Tim, and starts talking in Korean. Eventually, it’s determined that Tim

needs to step inside the office with another attendant. I’m wiping the jelly filling off my hands, the girls are crying, and the second attendant has stuck around to talk Korean to me through the window. I’m just continually nodding. Maybe he wants one of these dough chestnuts? Finally, Tim comes back. We overpaid the gas bill by 100,000 won on the keypad. So, the good news is now we don’t need to find an ATM for the weekend because they’ve just given it back to us in cash. A little over 90 minutes from when we stopped, we are cruising again.

2. The traffic is horrendous getting there. I am sitting in the passenger side wondering why so many Koreans are celebrating Columbus Day….when I start to voice this thought aloud, Tim shares that it’s also a Korean holiday. It’s their national holiday to celebrate their alphabet, Hangul. So no, they don’t celebrate Columbus.

3. We’ve rented an Air BnB for the weekend. The address we have doesn’t populate in Naver or Waze (which happens especially if you only know the English version of your destination). I know from the listing that it’s across from the aquarium and above a Starbucks. It’s a miracle we arrive before midnight. Once we arrive, we head out

for dinner. At dinner we realize the restaurant doesn’t have milk for Rosie, so I offer to run back to our Air BnB and grab one from our cooler. This is the point where we realize neither one of us has the room key. My phone with the Air BnB information on it is running very low on battery.  I’m starting to wonder what it’s going to take to stop using natural deodorant. I call the Air BnB manager, he responds with a lot of shock. I can’t imagine we are the first to have done this. It’s after hours and he’s already at home for the night. He instructs me to go into his office, get the master key out of his desk drawer and then please return it once I’ve recovered my own key. He hangs up after he tells me which drawer the keys are probably in. I think to myself, only in Korea would they give you the keys to the whole apartment complex. They are incredibly honest and trustworthy here. I feel pretty triumphant when I return to the restaurant with both Rosie’s milk and our key.

4. There’s this raw fish market that’s on Tim’s list to check out, so we head there on our second night. At this market each stall has its own restaurant seating directly next to the aquarium tanks. So, your fish dinner is real, real fresh. Traffic is bad again and we take a

few wrong turns. I feed the girls snacks and oatmeal in the back of the car. We arrive after dark and have trouble finding a parking space. The owner of the the parking garage (or at least the guy standing out front when we drive by) offers to let us double park and

leave our keys with him. And since it’s late and its Korea, we agree. We make a few big laps around the wet-market floor. The smell alone is enough for me to want to high tail it out of there. I’m certain I won’t be eating raw fish this evening. Rosie and I stop for ice cream on the street outside, a real local place called Baskin Robbins. We head back inside and Tim picks his meal for the evening. Raw octopus. When his plate arrives at the table it’s like something out of a movie. The entire octopus is still moving. All the tentacles are squirming across the plate. I can’t imagine Tim is going to eat this.

The owner’s wife who has brought the plate over loads up a pair of chopsticks for Tim’s first bite. The tentacles nearly slide right out of the sticks. Rosie is fascinated. She is squirming more than Tim’s plate. Tim manages to finish the entire plate. I somehow manage to finish my ice cream.  I breathe a sigh of relief when our car is where

we left it.

5. On our last night we head to a more family friendly restaurant for dinner. An “authentic” New York pizza place. They had all the staples: garlic knots, Coca Cola, and pepporini pizza! Rosie loved the loud rap music. Tim and I entertained both girls with some terrible dance moves. The girls now think we are the best dancers on the planet.

Which is really nice, I’m positive no one else respects our rap dance moves. I realize there’s a lot of freedom that comes with being an American Mom abroad. I might never dance in public back home (with good reason - I’ve got no rhythm), but here in Korea, where no one knows us and we are clearly tourists, it’s easy to let go. Dance moves

not photographed.

Honorable Mentions:

Aquarium - the girls got a second wind after pizza and we checked out the aquarium after hours. We had the whole place to ourselves. The only downside was that the penguins and the otters were sleeping.

Temple on the Water - we checked out this beautiful temple on the coast. It was stunning and extremely crowded thanks to the Korean holiday (not Columbus Day).

Thank you for keeping up with our adventures in Asia! We miss all of you back home, a lot! Praying for a vaccine so we can have some visitors!

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Margie Spence
Margie Spence
Nov 03, 2020

Squirming, raw octopus? No thanks!!


Caroline Chase
Caroline Chase
Nov 03, 2020

The octopus for the retelling as the girls grow, haha! “One time in Korea....” I Love seeing all the gorgeous photos too!

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