Diving with Sharks in Busan

Korea may not be at the top of your list for scuba diving destinations, but you have to learn somewhere! I recently had my first experience scuba diving, and it was a long time coming. Can you believe that I went backpacking around Southeast Asia for 5 months and have never been scuba diving?? Me either. But it’s pretty expensive, and my other half sinks more than he swims.

The Busan aquarium in Haeundae allows Aquatic Frontier, a PADI 5 star dive center located in Osan, to lead dives for the uncertified in the large shark tank. It’s a great chance to experience scuba diving before paying a large sum of money for the PADI certification course. Me and my friend Kate have been talking about doing the shark dive for a year, and the day finally came with a lot of nervous excitement.

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Samgwangsa on Buddha’s Birthday

Every year it comes. On the eighth day of the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, Korea celebrates Buddha’s Birthday. Among all of the holidays and festivals in South Korea, Buddha’s Birthday may be my favorite!

In Korean, they call it 석가탄신일 – seokga tansinil – or 부처님 오신 날 – bucheonim osin nal. In a literal sense, that means something like “the day when Buddha came.” A few weeks before the holiday itself, Buddhist temples all over the country begin preparing. They hang lanterns all over the temple and the grounds nearby. Sometimes the displays are modest, like at the small hermitages up in the remote mountains. Other times, the displays are large, lavish, and immensely colorful. There is one temple, however, which is simply breathtaking in it’s lantern display: 삼광사 – Samgwangsa.

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The Best Place for Cherry Blossoms in Korea

Cherry blossom viewing is a big deal every year in Korea. Rightfully so, considering the country is full of cherry blossom lined streets, and they are all amazingly beautiful. Every year droves of people visit famous places like Yeouido in Seoul, Jinhae, and Gyeongju to catch a glimpse at just the right time. People battle crowds, inclement weather, and time at the cherry blossom festivals. While it can still be a great time, they haven’t been my favorite Spring experiences.

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First day of Spring at Oryukdo, Busan

The thing I love most about Spring, is that every Spring feels like the first Spring. It feels like a discovery, a revelation, and a homecoming. Especially in Korea, where the rains come in early summer rather than May, and everyone waits with anticipation for the cherry blossoms to come alive again. There is even a cherry blossom forecast here–it’s pretty amazing. But Spring is also fleeting, as are the cherry blossoms, and every year I find myself wishing I could make time stand still, every March 21st. It’s that feeling that I live for every year, that makes parts of me awaken that I had long forgotten throughout winter. I become whole again.

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2014 Wrap-up – WE’RE ALIVE!

Wow, it has been a really long time since we’ve updated the blog. Sorry about that!! With our SURPRISE trip home, English camps, producing a play in Busan, and adjusting to a new school year with a new coteacher, my plate has been more than full. With the new school year officially in swing this week, I’m ready to get back on a more regular schedule! Evan and I have a lot of exciting things planned this year, but first I want to update you all on what we’ve been up to since we last posted!

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Sneak Peek Korea – Halloween Madness!

Sneak Peek Korea is a video series in which I made videos into all the extra footage I get that doesn’t make it into a proper video, and is largely unedited! I film a lot of my life and want to share as much as I can with you, because you seem to like it! :) Before I would just scrap extra footage I didn’t think was good enough for it’s own video, but I hope to instead provide little sneak peeks of my life in Korea, unscripted. Let me know in the comments if you enjoy these kinds of videos!

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Rachel’s Tiny Kitchen #1 – RICE COOKER CHICKEN WINGS!

I have always enjoyed cooking, but boy did I take for granted my kitchen and oven in the States! Since moving to Korea I’ve had to adapt the way I cook completely. From having no counter space, to replacing ingredients with things available here, to trying to make delicious cakes in a small toaster oven, I’ve done it all! There have been a lot of failed experiments and total disasters in my tiny kitchen(stories I may have to share soon!), but along the way I’ve learned a lot about how to make your tiny kitchen as efficient as possible and still make delicious food!

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Where to Buy English Books in Korea

Winter is coming in Korea and it’s a great time to snuggle up with a few new books. This past January I made a goal to read 35 books in 2014, and I can finally see the finish line! I’ve read 26 books so far, so that leaves 9 more to go in under 2 months. That’s a lot of reading, so I decided to order some new books to motivate me to reach my goal.

I ordered them from What the Book, the popular used book store in the Itaewon neighborhood of Seoul. Many of you have probably heard of or visited the store, but you may not know that you can also order books from their online store and have them delivered to you anywhere in Korea! Even if you’re looking for a specific book they don’t have, What the Book can order it for you online and send it to you.

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Our 4th Chuseok in Korea, Part 2 – Busan & Yangsan

This is the 2nd part of our Aunt Kathy’s trip to Korea! You can read about the first part of the trip in Seoul here. Now on to Busan! I was really excited about the train ride from Seoul to Yangsan, because after years I’m still not tired of Korea’s beautiful mountains and countryside. It ended up not being as clear as it could have been but it was still a nice ride! As Seoul faded from our minds, we started focusing on the next couple days in Busan.

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