I visited Busan in November when the whole country was cold and everyone was feeling the bite of the winter breeze. Unfortunately for me I had only packed a light jacket and a pair of long pants, but nevermind, I was warm hearted by being in a new country.
The hostel where I stayed in Busan for the first few days was across Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) area. This area is arguably one of the more livelier areas during both the day and night, but the scene changes dramatically.
Here is a photo I took the moment I walked outside. A middle aged Korean lady with her fresh goods sprawled out on the side of the street fingering through what appeared to be dried beans. The scene looked a little odd to me to see because the impression Busan gave off was less of street selling and more brick and mortar. The whole city felt too developed to see something like this, but here it was. I liked it though, it showed another side of South Korean daily life.
As I walked around I saw something else that was interesting. It was a monk who was busking for money. In Buddhism, one of the things monks generally are not suppose to do is ask to for things. They have to try their best to lead a simple life. Living expenses are paid for by donations from the community in exchange for providing spiritual services, prayers, a temple with praying programs, etc.
In fact, there was one time I was at a beach in Thailand and in the morning you would see a line of monks walking along side the beach with a bowl in hand. As they walked all the way down the coast line and back, you would see many Thais run out of their homes with donations of all kinds to fill their bowls up. Some of it was dried rice, money, or fruits.
Maybe it’s different in Korea.
Walking around and exploring in the cold can drain a lot of energy and by 11AM I was already hungry. My stomach didn’t feel like jumping right into Korean food yet so I settled for something in-between, Korean inspired McDonald’s.
Meet the Bulgogi Burger. Oh my god, this burger was the best thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. It didn’t taste like something that you would find in McDonald’s at all, but instead it was like a burger you’d make at home while taking sweet care making sure the meat was juicy and smearing on yummy bulgogi sauce. It was so good I think I ate it about 3 times.
Later in the night I ended up a Tteok-bokki stand serving up the finest spicy rice cakes you can find. It’s hard to just pass by without ordering up a serving and scarfing it down on the spot. The best part was that it was served piping hot making it perfect for the chilly night.
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