Trip to Busan (II)

Last weekend we went to Busan. This is the second time I have been to this city (first time was when Annika and Tanja were here), the second biggest in South Korea after Seoul. This time I could go to the Geumjeong Mountain, and visit its Beomeo Temple (범어사), on the north of Busan and where you have a very nice view of the whole city of Busan. Unfortunately the day we went to the top it was raining, so besides ending up completely wet, we couldn’t fully enjoy the view because of the fog. Anyway I hadn’t spent such a nice weekend (going to the mountain, beach, dinner and partying with friends…) since I lived in my beloved hometown Fuengirola.

Fire show in a bar in Busan.

Pablo studying the mountain before going to the top.

At Beomeo Temple.

At the North Gate (북문), on the way to the top of the mountain.

Already at the peak (around 800 meters high), with some Korean friends we made on the way up (in general people in Busan are more open than in Seoul maybe because it’s a southern city with sea where people tend to go out more).

View of Busan at night, from the roof of our building.

Korean “princess” with high heels and mini-skirt Haeundae Beach. This beach is also famous for being one of the most crowded beaches in summer. Besides, given that many Koreans are scared to death of the Sun, this beach also has the Guinnes Record to the beach with the most umbrellas. When we asked our hostel owner about this beach, he said it was a very good beach, but it was already closed… Yes, the beach “closed” on august 20th (it’s kind of hard for me to understand how you can possibly “close” a beach), so from that date Koreans just stop going to the beach and you can only see foreigners there. Obviously when we went to the beach we could swim without a problem and the temperature of the water was just perfect. “Closing” the beach just means that they remove the umbrellas.

We also ate sannakji (산낙지) for the first time. Sannakji is very easy to make. Basically, you just take an octopus (alive), chop it into pieces, add a little sesame oil and species and eat it just like that, while the pieces of octopus are still moving. Another experience to add to the one of eating grasshoppers in Gumi.

And to wrap off, a very nice sunset in Busan 🙂

Trip to Mongolia (from Beijing)

Day 1: Arrive in Beijing and Bus to Erenhot (Border with Mongolia)

We arrived in Beijing in the morning. At the airport Ga-Young was waiting for us and took us to the bus station to get our bus tickets to Erenhot, the border with Mongolia. After we got the tickets, we had around four hours left to hang around Beijing, so we headed to Tiananmen, took some pictures, had some Peking Duck for lunch, and back to the bus station.

In China! 😀

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At Tiananmen Square, from left to right, Ga-Young, Jairo, I, and Pablo.

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Ready to take the bed-bus to Erenhot.

Day 2: Crossing the Border with Mongolia and taking the night train

Next day in the morning, we arrived in Erenhot, the last Chinese city before crossing the border to Mongolia. When we got off the bus, there were dozens of drivers offering us to cross the border with us in their Russian 4WD’s.

Jairo with our driver and his car.

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Already in Mongolia, playing pool while we waited for the train that would take us to the capital, Ulan Bator.

It was so hot inside the train. No air conditioning and because the windows had to be open all the time and we were actually crossing the Gobi Desert, it was so dusty…

The train wasn’t very comfortable either. Here I am trying to get some sleep with Pablo and my Korean book.

Day 3: Arriving in Ulan Bator, Camel Riding, and First Night in a Ger

After being in the train for the whole night, we arrived in Ulan Bator, where Seggie, our tour guide picked us up. Very few people speak English in Ulan Bator, and if you moved to the countryside like we did, you really need a guide and a driver if you don’t want to get lost in the middle of nothing.

My first experience with a Mongolian restroom… It’s worse than it seems :S

Camel riding… in sandals!

Day 4: Karakorum and Rock Formations

On the 4th day we headed to Karakorum, the old capital of the Mongol Empire.

Mongolian Ger (a.k.a. yurt).

A typical Mongolian family going to the Erdene Zuu Monastery, in Karakorum.

Entrance to the monastery.

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For the first time in my life, I rode a horse 🙂

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Probably the most awesome rainbow that I’ve ever seen.

Day 5: Volcano and Lake

This day we drove a lot. I don’t know how many kilometers, but eventually we arrived at Khorgo Volcano. After climbing to the top of the volcano, and going down to it’s crater, we went swimming to a lake nearby, where we spent the night and took some rest.

At the top of the volcano.

Right at the crater of the volcano.

The lake where we swam (just awesome!).

Day 6: Driving Day

More driving.. although we were supposed to stop an another lake, this day wasn’t very warm for swimming, so we decided to just keep driving back to Karakorum, where we spend the night at a tourist camp, (which means that we could enjoy a shower and common toilets!!)

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I got to drive for a while on Mongolian non-paved roads.

Beautiful sunset in Karakorum.

Day 7: Wild Horses at Hustai Pational Park

This was one of the best experiences in our trip. Mongolia is the only country in the world where you can see truly wild horses. As opposed to the American Mustang or the Australian Brumby, the Mongolian Wild Horse, Przewalski’s Horse, or simply Takhi (which means “spirit”, and is how Mongolians call them) has never been successfully domesticated.

Family of wild Mongolian horses.

The three adventurers with the wild horses on the background.

Day 8: Ulan Bator

In our last day in Mongolia we decide to head back to Ulan Bator, and do some shopping before going to the airport and fly to Beijing and then back to Seoul. From what we saw, Ulan Bator is not such an interesting city. Quite dusty because of the close Gobi Desert, and full of old ugly and poor looking buildings, although we also saw that this city is developing very fast, with many new buildings being built.

The only picture I took this day (at a store which sells all kinds of products made of Mongolian wool).. Gracias Seggie! 🙂