Tag Archives: Festival

NYE in Sydney!

As I said before in my last post about Sydney, spending New Years Eve in this amazing city was very high on my bucket list! We booked a cruise ahead of time so we could enjoy the fireworks in one of the best seats in the city. With tickets in hand, we didn’t have to board until 7 PM meaning we had all day to explore a bit more. So, to make our NYE even more amazing, we headed to Bondi Beach to spend the day.

Bondhi Beach 2

The weather was perfect so we enjoyed the day at the beach before heading back into town to get ready for the main event!

Bondhi Beach Collage

We went to Darling Harbor to get on the boat and then took a cruise around Sydney harbor – we got a great view of the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House.

Sydney NYE Harbor Cruise

Harbor Bridge on NYE

Our cruise boat was in the Harbor of Lights parade so all of the ships had lights all over them and we made a big loop around the water before parking right in the front row.

Harbor of Lights Parade

We were one of a few ships allowed to be as close to the bridge & Opera House…we were literally right in the front row.

Front Row Seat - NYE Fireworks

The fireworks were amazing – it’s hard to put into words just how awesome it was. It was absolutely the best firework show we’ve ever seen!

Sydney NYE Fireworks 1

Sydney Fireworks 2

It was the best way to ring in the New Year – 2014 is going to be one to remember! I’m so glad we went and highly recommend everyone putting this on their bucket list!

Jingu Lantern Festival 2012

I’m a little behind on the blog and I need to catch up so I’m going to post about a few things that happened a few weeks ago…apologies about the late update, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading about it a little bit just the same. :)

We heard about a Lantern Festival from some people at work and decided to check it out. Our friend, Laura, was here on a business trip from Houston so we brought her with us so we could all have a Korean cultural experience together. The festival was in Jingu which is about an hour and a half away from our apartment in Geoje so we drove there in our little red car. We found a parking spot and followed the crowd to the festival. When we got there, we didn’t see any lanterns and saw signs for the “Drama Festival” – we thought we must have followed the wrong Korean signs to the wrong Korean festival. Regardless, we kept walking and hoped that we would find the right place. Luckily for us, we found some other expats who clearly knew their way and they told us to keep walking and we would knew when we had hit the lantern festival. And just as they predicted…we knew exactly when we got to the festival…

Start of the Jingu Lantern Festival – notice the floating lanterns in the background

There was a place where you could make your own lanterns with wishes and put them out in the water. Laura and I made some and set them out into the water – let’s hope they come true! :)

There were tons of lanterns floating in the water – it appeared to have several different themes…one of them was countries – there was a lantern for each country (George Washington was representing the US  -good choice, Korea!) and then there were lanterns of characters on the other side of the water.

The Korean one at the top left was really funny – the 1 flashed on and off; we thought it was a good use of a current event with the Korean Olympic fencer…can you guess the other 3 countries?? :)

These lanterns were such a flashback…I used to LOVE this show! :)

Afterwards, we walked up to the Jingu fortress and it was filled with lanterns depicting entire villages. It was really a site to be seen!

Lanterns in the fortress depicting a typical Korean fortress – pretty crazy how many there were!

We weren’t quite sure what to expect at the Korean lantern festival but it turned out to be a great evening and a good dose of Korean culture! :)

Last look at all of the floating lanterns on the water before we headed home

Road Trip to Busan!

We recently got a GPS for Korea which translates into English – thank goodness because driving here is a crazy experience! I’ll let Ryan write a post about that later because he graciously does most of the driving. We wanted to test it out so we went to Busan for a day trip last Sunday.Luckily for us, they built a bridge within the last couple of years between Busan and Geoje Island, so it takes about an hour to get to Busan rather than the 4 hour drive around. The drive on the bridge is really beautiful – there are islands along the coast which make it a very scenic drive.Several friends gave us some Korea travel guides and so we took it with us to Busan and planned to hit a few of the hot spots. The first stop was the Jagalchi Fish Market which is the largest fish market in Korea. We walked around the area and saw a lot of dried fishes hanging out to be sold, along with several of the little guppies that we saw the woman drying a couple of weeks ago when we were exploring the island!

Boxes of dried fishies

We think those are dried frogs???

We continued walking and found the main fish market which is a multi-story building and is full of stalls with fish tanks/open baskets full of plenty of live fish! It is a unique cultural experience to walk around and see the tanks of fish jumping around, eels slithering on top of each other, and even some octopuses stuck to the sides.

Flounder splashing around – we had really never seen anything like this before!

Eels in a big tank

These guys were cutting up & gutting some fish for a customer! They take freshness to a whole new level!

This lady’s stand had all kinds of interesting items – we didn’t know what half of them were

See the octopuses stuck to the side?! The mollusks are stuck to the side there, too! She has her little scooper to get any of them out if someone wants to buy some of them to take home. Yikes!

We wanted to continue our cultural experience, so we walked upstairs which is where the “restaurants” are. There were many “restaurants” serving seafood, primarily sashimi. I call them “restaurants” because it was a raised platform with tables and then small open kitchens nearby where they were funneling the food from. It was certainly unlike any food court or restaurant that I had ever been to before and we were the only non-Korean people there. We got the sashimi plate and we tried the first fish – It was not what I was expecting…I can only describe the texture as gooey and I did like it very much. The second fish on the platter was okay…not as good as I was expecting, but we munched on that. The waitress kept telling us that soup came with the sashimi so a few moments later, a burner showed up on our table and then they brought out a big pan full of soup. We looked a bit closer and saw a fish head…yup, they had brought us fish head soup. It wasn’t strictly fish heads – they had basically chopped up an entire fish and put it in the soup. Being the open minded type, we gave it a try. The fish had a lot of bones, making it super hard to eat, and the broth was very spicy. It was certainly an interesting experience, but it was not our favorite meal here yet.

The “restaurants” all looked like this – a raised platform and each person left their shoes by the side and sat on these mats; there were rows and rows of these which were all different “restaurants”

The Sashimi – the one on the left was the gooey one that I wasn’t a big fan of but the one of the right was okay

This is the fish head soup; unfortunately our fish head pictures came out blurry, but it’s in there, I promise. You can also see some of the different kimchi side dishes on the side that they gave us

Ryan enjoying our meal…his face says it all

This guy walked around with this over his shoulder and he had sweet rice cakes as desserts

Rows and rows of more dried fishes inside the market

Our final view of the market – a guy in a big truck dumping a fresh fish into a bucket – priceless!

There were also some more fish markets outside of the main fish market building. These were a little more aligned with what we would expect for a fish market because the fish were cut up and on ice rather than swimming around still in tanks.

Woman selling some of her fish outside – we think these may be a type of swordfish

Ryan at the outdoor fish market; there is a guy chopping fish under his umbrella right behind him.

After that, we walked around some of the other markets and grabbed a smoothie. The main observation we had while walking around was just how many people there were! Every where we went, there were seas of people! We continued our walk through Yongdusan Park. We went to the top of Busan Tower and scoped out the view.

Ryan and I in front of one of the statues in Yongdusan Park

View of one of the largest ports in the world (Busan) from the top of the Busan Tower

Ryan at the top of the Busan Tower

Big Bell in the Park (we really like the Korean buildings – neat architecture and so colorful!)

The last place on our list for our trip was to go to a temple outside of the city. It is called Yonggungsa Temple and it is nicknamed the “Temple on the Sea.” We drove out there and it was extremely crowded – it took us some time to find parking and then there was a 2 hour line to get into the temple. I should have guessed that I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see this beautiful temple with all of the lanterns for Buddha’s birthday! We didn’t really have time to wait in such a long line because we had to head back home, but we couldn’t see the temple from the outside. So…being the adventurous and determined couple that we are, we started hiking around to find another way to see the temple. We noticed that some Koreans jumped over a fence and were walking along a ledge. We followed suit and walked out along some of the rocks and there was the view that we were looking for!! The temple was filled with colorful lanterns and it looked incredible!

We thought this guy was quite intimidating!

They had all 12 zodiac statues lining hte walk-way to get to the entrance of the temple area; Ryan is with the Goat! (Go WPI! ;) )

Great picture of one of the Buddha statues!

On the other side of those cliffs is the temple; we spent some time hiking around trying to get a good view….this was the first one that we got, but the temple was blocked. We persistently kept looking around until we found what we were looking for. :)

Ryan and I celebrating our find with the great view of the colorfully decorated temple behind us!

Temple decorated with many colorful lanterns for Buddha’s birthday!

Buddha Statue

The temple is right on the water…it’s really neat!

The 12 Zodiacs Lined Up

With the Tiger (Zodiac for our birth year!)

On the way out, there are several food and souvenir stalls – we saw some fresh dough cakes being made and they smelled awesome! A bag of 10 of them was only 2,000 Won (almost $2), so we grabbed a bag. They were awesome! They were cakey donut type of treats that had red bean paste in the middle. I’m not sure what they are called, but we will certainly be getting them again if we see them somewhere else.

All in all, we had a great day trip to Busan!

Chasing a Parade!

Our friend called us on Wednesday night at 7:55 PM to tell us that they saw a parade for Buddha’s birthday being set up in the next town over and it started at 8:00 PM – he sent us a video of the parade, and when we saw it, we looked at each other and decided to head over there as quickly as we could! We jumped in the car and headed over to Gohyeon which is about 15 minutes away.

When we got there, we were driving around and didn’t see any signs of excitement and certainly no parade floats, so we continued to drive around for a little bit and spotted several police officers holding lighted batons to control traffic. We decided to park the car and go and ask the police officers if the parade would go by here. We asked one of the officers and he just smiled and nodded…we didn’t think he had any idea what we were talking about so we showed him the video on Ryan’s phone and he shook his head a bit more vigorously. As we stood there, several families came by as well, so we thought for sure this was a good spot. Sure enough…in about 20 minutes, we heard drums and singing as the parade came our way!! It was really fun!

Korean ladies drumming kicked off the parade!

Most of the floats were on the back of trucks depicting Buddha or flowers in very colorful lights

Buddhist monks carrying lanterns – one of them kept waving to us :)

Buddha riding the dragon!

More fire! This was one of our favorite floats!

Ryan enjoying all of the floats!

There were elephant sound effects with this float – it was awesome!

Buddha riding another fire breathing dragon!

Ryan acting like a fire breathing dragon :)

Not sure what these ladies were going for…it looks like they are trying to look like an ostrich?

We still aren’t sure why the parade was on Wednesday (May 23rd) when the holiday for his birthday is this coming Monday (May 28th) – hopefully we’ll see some more festivities over the weekend! This certainly was one of our favorite cultural moments so far!

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