Haedong Yonggung Temple in Busan, the Temple by the Sea
One thing that was a bit of a shocker for Yeison and I when we were in Seoul was that many of the cultural and historical landmarks were located right smack in the middle of the city. We’d be walking the streets during rush hour and had absolutely no idea that we just strolled right past one of the oldest palaces in Korea. Most of the time we were so focused on fighting the crowd for space and scoping out the best street food! Perhaps it was the magnitude of the city that exaggerated our shock since there are cultural sites (not as old) in the middle of San Jose in Costa Rica but the population is not even close to Seoul. We didn’t feel nearly as crowded in Busan thankfully and on our last day in Korea we chose to visit a rare find in the country: a temple by the sea. Haedong Yonggung Temple Since most of the temples in Korea are located in the mountains, Haedong Yonggung temple is a unique find in South Korea and is a popular tourist destination. Located on the north east coast of Busan, the temple is situated in a beautiful area, with bright blue waters and a stunning view. Haedong Yonggung temple was built back in the 1300’s by an important Buddhist teacher, complete with a shrine, sanctuary, pagoda and sanctum. The main sanctuary was built in the 1970’s and there are various viewpoints around the temple looking out to the ocean. It takes 108 steps to the main sanctuary area which makes for a nice walk. We went on a Saturday in September and it was a gorgeous day out, sunny with a nice breeze. Although Yeison and I are pretty good about going early to avoid crowds, we didn’t make it that day and went to the temple around noon with all the tour buses. Even so, it wasn’t so crowded it was annoying and we were still able to spend quality time in the most sought out areas. As you walk down to the temple, you see 12 statues lined up according to the animals of the Chinese zodiac along with a pagoda. As you walk down the steps, head to the left first to get a nice view of the entire temple by the coast and one of the Buddha statues. After being away from the ocean for nearly a month, Yeison and I felt so at peace smelling the sea and hearing the waves crash against the rocks again. The ocean is definitely our happy place! Go back to the main steps and walk across the bridge to get into the main sanctuary area. Below the bridge there are a couple of statues holding bowls that you can try your luck to throw coins into! We actually saw one girl make it in there on the first shot. The main sanctuary area has a big Buddha statue, a cave with a Buddha sanctum, dragon statues and the main temple area has a gorgeous view of the ocean. I could definitely see why this temple is famous and why so many people like to visit it. The builder, Naong a Buddhist teacher chose the ideal location to build a temple surrounded by the striking turquoise waters of the ocean and stunning scenery. Tips for visiting Go early in the morning to avoid crowds Bring water and good walking shoes No entrance or admission fees Location Directions Haeundae Station, Busan station line 2, exit 7 Right outside the exit is the bus stop to Haedong Yonggung Temple Take Bus 181 for about 20 minutes and the bus will drop you off right at the entrance. You will need to walk up the street about a kilometer Get off when you see this sign.
Traveler Interview with Justin Plus Lauren
If you’ve ever hesitated to travel to far and distant countries because you’re vegetarian, don’t worry anymore. Justin and Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren travel blog is here to help you find out where you can still find delicious vegetarian or vegan food even in the remote locations. Read on to find out more about this duo! Meet Justin and Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren Please introduce yourself. Who are you and what’s your blog? We are Justin and Lauren and we are writers/photographers for the travel blog, Justin Plus Lauren. Our blog is all about our travels together as a couple. We are part-time travelers, meaning that we both work full time jobs living mostly in one place (near Toronto) and we travel as much as we can! Thankfully, we both work freelance jobs, giving us more opportunities to book time off work. You two are vegan and focus on that topic quite a bit on the blog. Tell us about your experiences with being vegan while traveling? Have you had any trouble finding vegan food while on the road? So far, our experiences traveling as vegans have been fantastic! We’ve been able to eat at many different vegetarian and vegan restaurants so far. I would say that the most challenging city so far to eat vegan food has been in Quebec City, where mostly traditionally rich, meaty, French food reigns supreme. However, with a little bit of planning ahead of time, we were able to track down a couple of places that catered to vegans. And when all else fails, it usually isn’t too tough to find an Italian restaurant with some pasta that can be made without meat or dairy. Usually the vegetarian and vegan restaurants are a little off the beaten path and not typically in the tourist areas. We’re always looking for the hidden gems of a city, so this coincides perfectly with those plans. What are the most vegan-friendly countries you’ve experienced so far? I’ll start by saying that Toronto is actually incredibly vegan-friendly with so many restaurants and vegan bakeries popping up all the time! For anyone seeking out yummy vegan food, you should come to Toronto! We’ve mostly traveled in Canada and the USA, finding lots of great vegan food in major cities in the USA, too. We’re researching for an upcoming Italy trip and it seems to be quite vegan-friendly, too. How did you two start travel blogging? We started travel blogging mainly to chronicle our own adventures and journeys together, as a type of online scrapbook. I always wanted to be able to look back on our lives and re-live those really fun moments. I also love reading travel blogs and gather so much valuable information from them, so I thought it would be great to give back to that community with my own info! We also love taking photos and video, so this is a great place to post them! What are some of your must-do things when you travel to a new place? I suppose it depends on the place we visit. If there are really well-known cultural sites, I would like to see those, especially if they involve historical places. If we’re somewhere warm and sunny, going to the beach and snorkeling is a must-do! And of course, we love to eat! Finding the best vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants is something I’ll try to do ahead of time. We also love exploring natural outdoor places, so hiking is definitely on our list! What are your top tips for vegan or vegetarian travelers? I recommend that you do some planning in advance. Use the Happy Cow website, Yelp, or search other vegan travel blogs/websites to see where you can find vegetarian or vegan food. Some spots are more vegan-friendly than others. I would recommend trying to learn phrases in other languages, such as “no cheese”, “no meat”, etc. if you’re traveling to a place where English is not commonly spoken. Also, it is helpful to pack some snacks, such as vegan protein powders, vegan granola bars, trail mix, etc. And if in doubt, get a place with a kitchen and you can prepare your own meals! How do you stay eco-friendly when you travel? Best tips? I try to choose activities that minimize the environmental impact on the country that we are visiting. I never engage in wildlife tourism that is harmful to animals. If possible, it is great to stay at an eco-friendly establishment. And one of the best ways to be eco-friendly is to eat more vegetarian and vegan meals! It is astounding how much energy and resources go into the factory farming of animals. What are some of your best travel memories so far? I have great memories from every place that we’ve traveled together. One of our best recent travel memories would be Whitewater Rafting down the Ottawa River – what an adventure that was! I also had the experience of a lifetime with Justin while whale and dolphin watching in Dominica, as we saw so many of these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. Another incredible experience was snorkeling in Bonaire because the coral reefs were the best that I’d ever witnessed, and it was awesome swimming amongst the tropical fish and the sea turtles! Tell us what’s on the itinerary for Justin and Lauren for the rest of 2014. We actually won a vacation to Bermuda for the end of October! We entered a travel video contest called My Destination Story for Fairmont Hotels. We won a trip to Bermuda and the opportunity to be their “GoPro Heroes”. We’ll be staying in Bermuda for 4 days, capturing video with a new GoPro camera that we also won in the contest, and we’ll be putting together another video for them in the hopes of winning the grand prize of another holiday! Keep your fingers crossed for us! Justin and Lauren are a Canadian couple who love to travel together and share their stories. They are part-time travelers who make the most of their vacation time to slowly travel all over the world. They love nature, animals, and eco-friendly travel. As vegans, they seek out delicious plant-based meals on our travels. They also enjoy staying active in their adventures through hiking, biking, walking everywhere, snorkeling, kayaking, and much more! Blog Facebook Twitter Google+
Jalgachi Fish Market in Busan – That’s A Lot of Crabs in One Tank!
If you’ve ever been to a fish market in Asia, you’re probably not surprised one bit about the sheer amount and kinds of seafood you can find being sold in the stalls. During our day meeting up with Meagan from LifeOutsideofTexas, she took us to the Jalgalchi Fish Market in Busan so we could see what it was like. I was so curious as to what other kinds of seafood Koreans eat but it turned out that I was going to see a whole lot more than that. I have to be super honest. I eat seafood (not a lot) but I couldn’t help but feel bad when I saw a hundred fish crammed into a small tank with no room to flip a fin. And a bunch of crabs stacked on top of each other. And the worst, seeing an octopus trying to escape its unfortunate end just to get kicked back into his death row jail cell. Yes I’m a hypocrite I know but it was hard not to feel sorry for them. Granted, the whole experience was still eye-opening for me. Despite going to the markets in Seattle, Pike Place doesn’t exactly show you the process of before the seafood is put on ice. At the Jalgalchi market, we got to see exactly how the animals are kept, how they’re prepared and how customers chose which one they want. This is the reality of it all so I was glad we went so I could learn more and see it for myself. Jalgachi fish market in busan This seafood market is the biggest one in South Korea and it’s dominated by women. It’s a popular tourist attraction for people to come and eat the raw fish, famous live octopus and more. For us, it was a way to learn more about the food culture of Korea. No, we didn’t try the live octopus… we were too chicken! Maybe next time. I have heard that it tastes good but after watching the behind-the-scenes of Oldboy, I don’t think I could have kept it down. The indoor market As you walk to the indoor part of the market, you’ll see tanks everywhere and each one is stuffed to the brim with fish, crabs, shrimp, octopi and anything other type of seafood you can think of. It was honestly amazing to see so many sea creatures in one place. As we walked past a few people who were looking at an octopus tank, I heard a weird squelching noise and we turned around to see what it was. Turns out, we found out how you showcase an octopus to your customer. The vendor used a hook to grab an octopus out of the tank and tried to hold it out (it kept moving around) for the people to see. They shook their heads and back into the tank the octopus went. Seemed like he wasn’t big enough so he lived to see another day. The lady pulled out another one and threw it on the floor. This guy seemed to know what was going on, he squirted ink and tried to propel away but he ended up being the chosen one. The lady got a bag of water, grabbed the octopus, chucked him inside, tied the bag and the deal was made. He was probably dinner for them that night. Now that is what you call fresh! Yeison managed to capture the whole process on the GoPro, you can watch it in the video at the end of the post Then there were all sorts of things on dishes that I didn’t recognize that I remember seeing in some pictures. What was it again? Oh right, the penis worm. What an appetizing name! Can’t forget to mention the things that look like a vagina. Then there were some of the normal things like shrimp, clams and crab. They also had some of the biggest crabs I have ever seen in those tanks! And even more octopi. A lot of the little baby ones too. You’ll also be able to see people cleaning the seafood and the most fascinating one was the eels. It is unbelievable how fast some of those Korean ladies can skin those things! They just pull one up, stick it to a board with a nail and skin it alive. When they’re done they just throw them into the pile and some of them are still wriggling around! Outdoor market The outdoor market has all kinds of dried seafood and street food. Everything you saw alive in the indoor market you can find dried outside. And you can still see some tanks outside of restaurants full of crabs, shrimp and fish. Walking through the Jalgachi fish market was actually a pretty awesome experience. I was incredibly curious to know more about the seafood culture in Korea and I got to see it first hand. I’m still a bit squeemish at the thought of eating anything alive buuuut you never know! One day I’ll post a “eating live octopus” video of my own. Like this post? Click here to get more like this straight to your inbox! Information about the Jalgachi Fish Market Directions: Jalgachi Station, line 1, exit 10 Once you exit the station, turn right onto Jagalchi-3-gil street. Walk about 5 minutes and turn left to the market’s entrance. You can hire a tour guide to take you through the market. Operation hours: 8 AM – 10 PM Open all year round See what the market is like including the octopus and eels!
A Great Way to See South Korea: Biking the Han River in Seoul
Since I was a kid biking has been one of my favorite outdoor activities, I just feel free when I ride a bike and on our trip to Korea I was definitely looking to bike around the Han River. Why? Let me tell you some interesting facts about this important river: The Han River is one of the longest rivers in South Korea and many historical places are around it. Is one of the most representatives places in South Korea. You can find many “open gym’s” along the river. 27 bridges cross the Han River Most of their trails are open all year long Biking the Han River When we visited South Korea we stayed in a Airbnb apartment and our host Woojin gave us really good tips about which activities we could do. One of my “to do things in South Korea list” was to bike around and as soon as our host heard that, he told me that his father will take me around and I of course said Yes ! The next day at 8 am I was ready for my bike ride. I didn’t bring any of my bike clothes or equipment and with all respect I was thinking that I will be biking with someone in his late fifties and it will not take too much physical effort, but I was wrong. When his dad show up he looked like a normal late fifties Korean. He was wearing spandex and biking shoes and then he showed me the bike I was going to use (it looks like this one but all the accessories were Shimano XTR). As soon as we started biking, I realized how fast he was going and to make the story short, we passed everyone on the trail and his biking skills were like Olympic team level. When we were riding, I saw lots of open gym where everyone was exercising and I saw many people running and walking. The view is amazing. You are always along the river and you cross every kind of outdoor activity fields, I passed by a soccer field, 2 or 3 baseball fields and a beautiful garden where you can stop and enjoy a picnic or just lay on the grass. You can also find lots of places to buy a drink and sit next to the river if you need a break. Where you can get a bike You will be able to find many bike rentals which are around around 3000 won ($3) per hour. They even have double bikes and they will provide you with all you need to have a great time Here is a map where you will see all the rental places My GoPro Video Recommendations and thoughts I highly recommend to do this activity if you like biking. You will have the chance to see a different part of Korea while you are enjoying a bike ride. If you are going to do this, joining a tour is my best recommendation. Remember to bring your camera and get ready for a day full of fun. You don’t have to worry too much about bringing gear since you can find everything at the rental bike places. If your backpack is very heavy you can leave it in the rental place. For drinks there are plenty of stands where you can get water and you will see volunteers giving water and cherry tomatoes to the public. I hope you enjoy this article and video! Feel free to leave a comment if you want at add more info or ask me a question Like this post? Click here to get more like this straight to your inbox!
In Absolute Awe of the Majestic Batu Caves in Malaysia
While researching what to do in Kuala Lumpur, we came across one well known attraction that captured our attention: the Batu Caves. We had just two days in KL so we decided to spend that time to hit the main attractions which were the Patronus Towers and the caves. Once we saw a video of the huge gold statue, it went quickly to the top of our to-do list. One of the tips I read online was to go early. Although we were visiting during slightly off season (October), we still wanted to beat any crowds so we got up bright and early at 6:30 AM, had breakfast and headed off to the caves. Batu Caves in Malaysia Getting there Our hotel was in Chinatown so we hopped over using the city transit rail from Pasar Seni to KL Sentral. At KL Sentral we bought tickets to Batu Caves by KTM Komuter Train. It costs 4 RM (a little over $1) there and back and takes about 25 minutes from KL Sentral. The Batu Cave Entrance When the Komuter train pulls into the station, you can see the huge statue right away. The Batu Caves are just right down the street from the station, you can’t miss it. The first thing I noticed besides the statue was how beautiful the scenery was. The cliff sides were intensely green and lush and I felt like I was seeing a familiar sight. Right outside the entrance to the steps is the huge Hindu statue, Lord Murugan their god of war. This was what I had been anxiously waiting for and it was such a spectacular sight to see. My eyes feasted on this enormous statue, marveling at its presence. Nothing will make you feel smaller than standing next to something that’s 140 feet tall. That’s teeny tiny me in the pink Going up to the caves Since the caves are about 100 meters rising off the ground, that meant there was a lot of stairs to climb to get to the entrance. And I mean a lot. I think it was just under 300 steps and they are steep! Every 50 steps or so I’d turn around and look at the view behind us. Not even half way up… Nice view though! We made it! Inside the Batu Caves Every step getting to the caves was worth it because inside is like a completely different world. These caves are limestone and are thought to be 400 million years old. There were shrines along with a couple of temples and we were smart to go early, we were the only tourists there. We explored caves once back in Costa Rica but this was a completely different experience. This one was immensely tall and seemingly never-ending. Now if only walls could talk, what fascinating stories we’d hear as they’ve been used as shelters for an indigenous group of people, were explored by Chinese settlers and then built into a place of worship in the late 1800’s. There are another set of stairs that leads to another temple with more sunlight shining through the top. This is also where you can see a ton of the macaques (monkeys). There were so many and they weren’t afraid of people at all, some just ran right over my feet! scary monkey We arrived right when they started a ceremony which we got to watch. I admit, I’m not too familiar with Hinduism but it was fascinating to see. An impressive and iconic attraction I can see why tourists flock to the Batu Caves the second we arrived. It’s a completely different experience that most people who live on the other side of the world have never been exposed to. Not only is it an impressive sight to see but it also allows you to peek into a part of Malaysia’s culture. The Batu Caves are most visited during the time of a Hindu festival called Thaipusam but I highly recommend all visitors to come here no matter what time of year you are in Kuala Lumpur. It’s something you just can’t miss when you’re in the city and it’d be a shame to. Rock climbing enthusiasts will also want to put this place on their to-go list as there are more than 150 climbing routes around the Batu Caves. The caves themselves were downright extraordinary but I was most fascinated by the giant statue outside. It’s incredibly difficult to peel your eyes away from it, it’s as if the gold is calling out to you. There’s something hypnotic about gazing at that remarkable statue… Our video of the caves Tips for visiting the Batu caves in Malaysia Go early, when we got there at 8AM there was nobody Don’t feed the animals and don’t bother them (those monkeys get mean!) Be respectful if there are ceremonies going on It is free to enter the caves but there are donation boxes around Bring water! The steps and heat will make you super thirsty when you get to the top Like this post? Click here to get more like this straight to your inbox!