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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Korea 2013: Busan Chapter 5

Dalmaji Hill

We awoke the next morning with a sadness in our hearts. This was our second last day in Korea, a land that we had come to enjoy. However, we resolved to make the most of the day and to end our holiday with a bang.

The first stop of the day - Dalmaji Hill. The Life in Korea website has an interesting description of this place:

Dalmaji Hill is a bluff cliff, located just southeast of Haeundae Beach. Along Dalmaji-gil, near the entrance to the hill, a cafe town caters to lovers and young couples who come to enjoy a cup of coffee and the nice view of Haeundae Beach, the sea, and the moon. Special vista areas include P'algakjeong and Jeonmangdae. The area has also become famous for watching the moon rising on the lunar year's first full moon day. (The name comes from this ritual- dal means moon andmaji means rising.)

Each year 200,000 to 300,000 moon watchers pray for their wishes, watching the full moon rise over Haeundae Beach. On the year's first full moon day, the Dalmaji Feast is held here with a variety of games including kite-flying, yutnol twigi, farmer's music, traditional dance, and other traditional activities. Buddhists also worship with a ceremony for liberating living creatures, a ceremony to pray for a rich haul, and a ceremony to burn Daljip (moon house). On the beach, people contribute specially prepared rice cakes and fruits as an offering to the sea, hold candles in their hands, and pray for year-long peace and happiness. This ceremony is called 'Feeding the Dragon King.' After this first step, the feast reaches its climax by burning Daljip as the full moon rises above the sea.

There's a certain charm about Dalmaji Hill. We had spent the last week in Busan, Korea's second-largest city, which was definitely more built-up compared to our earlier locations of Jeju and Gyeongju. Dalmaji Hill evoked an out-of-city feel and we were instantly at home once again in nature, with our older son Z excitedly asking, "Shall we go to the forest?"
Both sons thoroughly enjoying our walk in the hills.
Little E having a special moment with Daddy...
And with Mummy.
Ice cream and coffee in one of the lovely cafes on the hill.
Little E finally falls asleep after an energetic morning.
The scenic view from the hills.
The walk down the hill took far longer than expected, and after two hours we realised we had gone the wrong way! We could have continued walking, after all, both children were by now fast asleep. But a rumble in our tummies quickly got the better of us and we were soon in a taxi headed to our favourite fried chicken restaurant.

All Things Bon Chon

Given that it was our last full day in Korea, we resolved to enjoy our favourite fried chicken one last time before we left. And the meal was just as delicious as we expected it to be!

The succulent Bon Chon chicken served with a quenching glass of beer to
complete the meal!
Our sons loved the view from the restaurant, which overlooks the
famous Haeundae Beach.

Haeundae Beach

After a satisfying mid-afternoon meal, we proceeded to take a walk around the area where we were staying - Haeundae Beach. The Korean Tourism Board posts this description on their website:

Haeundae Beach (해운대해수욕장) is probably the most famous beach in the country. "Haeundae" was so named by scholar Choi Chi-Won (857~?) of the Silla Kingdom (BC 57~AD 935). When he was walking past Dongbaekdo Island, he was fascinated by it and left the carved words "Hae Un Dae" on a stone wall on the island. Haeundae is 1.5 km long, 30~50m wide, and spans an area of 58,400㎡. The white sand is rough and sticks easily to your skin. The sand of this beach is composed of sand that comes from Chuncheon Stream and shells that have been naturally eroded by the wind over time. Haeundae Beach is also famous for the various cultural events and festivals held throughout the year. At Haeundae Beach there is a Folk Square where you can enjoy traditional games such as neoldduigi (seesaw jumping), Korean wrestling, tuho(arrow throwing), tug-of-war and yutnori. There is also the Beach Culture Center and the Beach Library. Numerous people visit every year from June to August.

It was a peaceful evening walk for our family as the kids enjoyed running
around the beach and soaked in the picturesque atmosphere. In the
background, you can hear soulful music being played by roving musicians.

Our older son Z spent time just walking on the beach. He loves the sea and enjoys contemplating the beauty of nature.
Our younger son E enjoyed running after the seagulls.
Here he is trying to feed them and play with them.
Our final boat cruise around the bay. Here's the famous Diamond Bridge in
all its splendour.
As we returned to our hotel room that night, we reflected on what a wonderful time we had in Busan, and in Korea. There is something magical about this country that we have come to love - perhaps it is the lovely scenic island of Jeju with its wild natural surroundings; or maybe it is the strong sense of history and culture which we imbibed in Gyeongju; or perhaps it is the vibrant and energetic Busan, with its charming beaches and delicious food. 

One thing we are certain about - we will definitely come back here again; hopefully not in the too distant future.

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