Hiking 황령산

This is one of the best places to see a panoramic view of Busan 🙂 in my opinion, this view beats the view from Busan Tower and it’s free!

My friend and I chose to hike most of the way up but if you want you can drive or take a taxi too. Sometimes the taxi drivers won’t want to take you up places like this because it’s outside of the city center but sometimes they don’t mind. We went to 시청역 (City Hall Station) and from there transferred to village bus #1 and rode it to it’s last stop, which was at the base of the mountain.

The hike isn’t that long and it took us less than an hour to climb each way. We chose to hike in the late afternoon so that we could catch the sunset and see Busan’s cityscape change from day to night. There’s a nice (but a tad overpriced) cafe at the top and it was calming sit there with a cup of tea and watch as the city gradually lit up and came to life during the night.

Very magical 🙂

마법처럼~

Wearing Hanboks in Gyeongbokgung~ 경복궁 한복 입는 경험

My Canadian friends and I went to Seoul during my winter break and one of the things we decided to do was to rent hanboks (한복) and walk around Gyeongbok palace. We had went there once before in 2017 but never had the chance to wear hanboks before, and it honestly made the experience way more special. The history of the palace is incredibly interesting and it felt like you’re walking back in time the deeper into the palace you get. The palace was built during the Joseon Dynasty in the year 1395 and has undergone a lot of changes from how it was originally, and it’s interesting to see how the buildings were built and what they were intended for.

Some buildings are dedicated just for royalty and you can notice the difference because some will have intricately painted walls with vivid colours in comparison to others which are unpainted and undecorated. Some buildings were dedicated only for specific purposes, for instance there’s one building that’s set by a gorgeous pond which was made just for the Queen to relax by herself when she needed to. Also, I thought it was so ingenious that the buildings are built with interlocking wooden beams instead of using nails. Every part of each building was pieced together like an intricate puzzle and the measurements had to be so precise for it to be built stabley.

Warning: hanboks are a little difficult to wear if you’re plus size. Our had to be pinned down to accommodate for our curviness. There may be a hanbok rental shop with different sizes, but the one we used was free size. However on the plus side they did our hair for free, so we only had to pay around 15 000원 for 3 hours and the entrance fee to the palace was free! It wasn’t much to pay for a great experience.

Here’s a link to some history of 경복궁!

http://koreatourinformation.com/blog/2013/12/08/gyeongbokgung-palace경복궁-景福宮/

Till next time~

나중에 봐요~ 🙂

Cafe Review~ 시계 토끼의 유혹

This will be a section of my blog dedicated to the different cafes of Korea! For the past 5 years or so I’ve become a hopeless coffee addict, and I’ve decided to turn this addiction into a hobby and scour out the best and most unique cafe’s in Korea. Korea as a country has a bit of a coffee addiction as well- cafes are one of the most popular places to go out with friends, go on dates, or to study.

I went to this cafe on December 31, the day after BTS’ V’s birthday. Some of my friends and I have been collecting cup sleeves with the different BTS members on it and it’s become a sort of mission to collect them all. Usually you have to get these cup sleeves the day they’re released because they’re so popular and there’s limited quantities. Because this was the day after Tae’s birthday, it became my ‘mission impossible’ to still find some cup sleeves somewhere.. and this situation luckily ended up bringing me to this cafe. It’s a cute little cafe tucked away in a small alley inside another alley off of a side street. This was one of the only places left that had them, and the cafe staff were kind enough to offer 2 cup sleeves when I ordered one drink!

The cafe is Alice in Wonderland themed, and has a whimsical atmosphere with different art and collections of seemingly random objects that somehow end up tying really well together. For instance there’s a corner totally dedicated to Totoro, then in another corner there’s a small dark room that’s painted completely black and another that’s lined with coffee cups upon coffee cups with different hand-drawn art on them. Whoever drew on these is a really talented artist.

The outside patio is a nice hang out spot and the mirrors alongside it reflect the beautiful decor from inside the cafe. I think this cafe would be best to enjoy during a midsummers evening, because you’d get the change to enjoy the lights and outdoors.

The coffee itself was good too, albeit a bit overpriced. That’s understandable because you’re essentially paying to be inside this cafe and to enjoy your time here. I didn’t try the food, because sadly the selection was a little lacking. They mostly just have tiramisu cakes. They looked delicious, but if you want to eat some real food you will have to go elsewhere.

The staff were incredibly friendly too. That was one of the highlights of my time here. My friend and I had been talking to one of the baristas about BTS, and he had told us that on Tae’s birthday they had given out special photo cards with each drink. We were kind of disappointed to hear that we missed out on this, but about 10 or so minutes later I saw him walking towards us with what appeared to be a pile of napkins. He secretly gave the pile to us and it turns out he hid two photo cards inside them. Definitely from now on I will be coming to this cafe for every other members birthday, and I recommend doing that to whoever enjoys collecting these cup holders too. 🙂

Now time for cafe 👏 review 👏:

Coffee: 3.5 / 5

Atmosphere: 4 /5

Food: ? / 5

Service: 5 / 5

Price: 3 / 5

SNS: https://twitter.com/0ujbwLfSgZtPCDj

Until the next coffee~

Christmas Festival~ 크리스마스 트리 문화 축제

Christmas in Busan has been completely different from all the Christmas’ I’ve spent in Canada. It feels strange to live in a place that never snows.. this is the one time of year where I actually love having snow blanketing the ground and trees. Generally not many places here (besides cafe’s) really decorate for Christmas, and because I’m spending most of my time with friends of different countries and cultures I realized that Christmas is definitely for the most part a Western and European holiday.

However, I was so happy to stumble upon one area of Busan that turns into a Christmas wonderland in December. I was luckily traveling to Nampo one day and came across a street filled with thousands of glistening Christmas lights and the sounds of Christmas music and caroling. Briefly, I felt like I was home again! It turns out this is a yearly festival called the 부산 크리스마스 트리 문화 축제 (Busan Christmas Tree Culture Festival).

One thing that was really amazing was the LED Christmas tree that’s built in the center of Nampo’s main square. It has to be at least 5 or 6 stories tall. It becomes the hub of most of the Christmas festivities with many carolers and spots for people to bring their instruments to play to their hearts content. We came across a group of 아저씨’s singing and it was so cute and heartwarming to listen to them sing together.

Nampo is also really famous for it’s street food. Actually the main reason why we came here was to try out 호떡- a famous food that’s especially made in Nampo. It’s so light, buttery and filed with so many nuts and seeds. By then there was a lot of hype surrounding this snack because we were looking for it for so long, and honestly it lived up to the hype. I now feel the urge to eat one each time I’m near Nampo.

We also tried 어목 (fish cakes) and 유부초밥 (Yubuchobap), which is fried tofu stuffed with rice and veggies, and was served with a broth that was really comforting to sip on in the chilly evening weather. Everything tasted SO fresh. I also tried 프로즌 스모어, which is Konglish for ‘frozen smore.’. It was basically a toasted marshmallow with ice cream inside.

Nampo’s a fun place to begin with, but it’s definitely one of the best places to go to in Busan during Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone~ 🙂

Tour of Namgu~ 남구의 관광

Last week I was recommended to be a part of a tour through the 남구 district of Busan, a district that I had previously heard of but had never been to before. Needless to say, I was really excited to go and explore a new side to Busan and to try some new things.

Our first stop was to 대연동 문화골목 (Daeyeon-dong Cultural Alley), which at first seemed like any ordinary alleyway, but as we walked further inside, it completely opened up into a square with various shops, cafes, galleries, and even a small theater. Sprinkled throughout the alley were various antiques that gave the alley a really eclectic feel.

After lots of walking we were all a little hungry for lunch. The tour generously gave us each a gift bag filled with goodies, like fruit, korean snacks, and delicious rice cakes filled with red bean paste.

At our next stop we got to do a 한식 체엄 (Korean food workshop) where we learned how to make tomato kimchi! I had never tried this type of kimchi before and I have to say it’s my new favorite kind. The sweetness from the cherry tomatoes mixed with the spice from the hot peppers and onions really complemented each other. After we finished making our kimchi we took it downstairs to a restaurant where our lunch was waiting for us as well as some makgeolli that was locally brewed from Yeongdo Island Makgeolli Brewery.

Next, we went to the 오육도 (Oryukdo Islands), that had a path along the coastline and a glass skywalk where you see fantastic views of Busan as well as (of course) the Oryukdo Islands. It’s a very popular spot for tourists so it was a little busy, but it’s still a lot of fun to walk along the coast and on the skywalk- it somewhat feels like you’re walking on air.

Afterward we were taken to the UN Memorial Park, a place that is dedicated to honor the countries and their troops who risked their lives in the Korean War. There were some really powerful monuments where you can pay your respects to the soldiers, and the park itself felt very tranquil. I’d like to think that the buried soldiers can find their peace here in this park. The statue dedicated to Canada was designed by a Canadian and there is an exact replica of the same statue in Ottawa.

At this point of the tour we had done quite a bit and needed a break, so we were taken to a traditional Korean restaurant where we all had to take off our shoes and sit on cushions. It felt really cozy and welcoming. We were served a generous portion of 오리 반계탕 (Duck soup). I don’t usually ever eat duck.. or meat in general but it was surprisingly tasty!

Our final stop on the tour was a night time cruise, where we got to see Busan’s skyline lit up at night. Gwangalli Bridge definitely stole the show with it’s beautiful ever-changing lights. It was a lot of fun getting to spend this time with the tour group, because even though a lot of us were strangers from different schools we now all had something in common. This whole experience was something unique and special.

I’m forever grateful to have been a part of this tour, and will never forget this adventure. Now I feel like I know a little more about what makes Busan such a wonderful city, and I’m so excited to share this type of experience with my Canadian friends and family when they visit, and also with any other friends that I make while I’m here.

Here are a couple of links if anyone would like to know more about the tour company that I went with:

http://www.facebook.com/busannamgu

http://www.bsnamgu.go.kr/index.namgu

Until next time~

Seokbulsa Temple~ 석불사

❤️

It took over a month in order for me to find this temple- part of it was because I was so busy with school and another part was because my friend and I didn’t prepare to find this temple properly. We thought Google maps would help us, but it sent us to the wrong mountain and up a backroads path leading to nowhere.

A couple weeks later, my friend and I decided to try to find 석불사 once again. This time, I looked up some blogs and figured out how to get there much more easily. This was the blog we used and it was really useful.

This quickly became one of my favourite days here so far. The whole experience was magical. We decided to take the cable car in 금강공원 and hike the rest of the way up. Along the path you pass by 금정산성 남문, a fortress built during the Silla dynasty and a small village called 남맘마을. It’s a bit of a hike to get to this temple even with the cable car, so it’s not riddled with tourists like some of the other temples in Busan. Because of this, you can experience the temple for how it really was intended.

I felt an air of peace as soon as I entered the temple grounds, and the only sounds you could hear were the rustling of the leaves and a monk reciting hymns inside one of the buildings. I could have stayed there all day. Looking from the temple down onto the busy city below really sets your daily worries into perspective. Life is a lot more simple and peaceful than our minds make it out to be sometimes, and you occasionally need moments to step back to just experience the present moment around you~

Journey into Gamcheon Culture Village~ 감천문화마을

A beautiful rainbow sea of homes, ebbing and flowing among the mountains like the tide of a sea.

This village was originally built in a matter of days to house the many refugees during the Korean War. Houses upon houses are stacked upon each other like LEGO blocks- no wonder it’s also known as the LEGO village. I read this article about 감천문화마을 and it was really good about explaining some of it’s complicated history.

Many people now come here for the beautiful sights and Instagram pictures- myself included- but there are many layers of depth to the village. A lot of the artwork has it’s own story of what it represents to the artists and residents.

Photo courtesy of The Bare Yard

Photo courtesy of The Bare Yard

I personally liked the bookshelf staircase. I was thinking that this village felt like a place that popped out of Alice in Wonderland. So enchanting and it’s winding roads seem to draw you further down the rabbit hole and into another world. There is a main street that is dedicated for tourists and is bustling with many souvenir shops, restaurants and cafes, but peering down the alleyways I saw a glimpse of what the ambience of the village is normally like- peaceful, calm and serene, with the occasional dog or cat looking back at me with equally curious eyes.

It’s important to respect the residents living in the village, so I hope that everyone honours the space that the residents need and tries not to disrupt their daily lives.

Someday I’ll come back here again~

Welcome~

This blog will be about my personal perception of the many multifaceted sides of Korea. I’m hoping to share some of my experiences and pictures for my friends, family, and anyone else who’d like to read and learn more about this beautiful country. I am a language student at Silla University and will be mostly spending my time in Busan, but hopefully I will be able to explore other parts of Korea and possibly Japan or other countries in Asia.

The name Maple Ppopgi comes from a mixture of my Canadian heritage and Korean food. Ppopgi (뽑기)  is a sweet treat in Korea that is made from brown sugar and baking soda that is whipped together and pressed into a flat, circular shape and later decorated with cookie-cutter designs. It becomes a fun challenge to eat the candy around the design without breaking the cute shapes. The taste is sweet, smoky and a little nutty with a crispy yet airy texture, kind of like toffee. I’m not sure if it exists, but I feel like a maple-flavoured 뽑기 would be delicious. 🙂

Thanks for reading~