We’ve Moved!

Hi friends! For anyone who is still using the old “http://www.worldwalkabout.wordpress.com” url–we’ve moved! From now on, if you want to keep getting updates about our travels, please visit “www.world-walk-about.com.” All new posts will be on the new site only.

I’m also not entirely sure how this will affect the folks who subscribe with the wordpress “follow” feature or who have signed up to receive email alerts…but I’m working on it, so please stay tuned! In the meantime, come on over to:



Portraits of Busan

Maybe it’s because we felt more like tourists than we do in Seoul and Gwangju, but one thing I noticed when going through our photos from Busan is that we took a lot of awesome shots of the people in Busan–something we rarely feel comfortable doing closer to home. I feel these shots sum up Busan (and Korea to some extent) quite nicely–especially the difference in beach attire and the reactions to the sun. So without further ado, here is a little photo essay of the people of Busan–enjoy!

And lastly, some of the non-human inhabitants of Busan!

Which photo is your favorite?

The Waikiki of Asia: Busan’s Haeundae Beach

To celebrate the long weekend, we hopped on a charter bus for a 5-hour jaunt to one of South Korea’s most southern cities–Busan.

Busan is the second largest city in South Korea, but there are few comparisons between this port-city and Seoul. Busan has a grittier and more laid back feeling than pristine Seoul, but the locals seemed friendlier, and the level of English was a bit higher than we’re used to in Gwangju-si–probably because of the city’s proximity to the U.S. military base. Because of its beach town feel and plethora of cheap accommodations, Western-style bars and wide range of foreign foods, Busan is popular among expats, especially English teachers. The three day weekend celebrating Buddha’s birthday sent waygooks (foreigners) flocking to Busan from all over the country.

Though we weren’t actually staying on Busan’s famed Haeundae Beach, we did end up spending most of our time there. This beach is famous because it’s beautiful, but like so many places, because it is famous, it’s also incredibly overrun with tourists (including us). So I think it’s a fair analogy to say Busan’s Haeundae Beach is the Waikiki Beach of the east!

Hanging out on the beach with our new friend Mo, a Korean police officer in a town near ours!

Brimmed with cityscape and hazy with smog, this city beach is definitely a site to see. Westerners in skimpy bikinis sit alongside older Korean women who are fully dressed and sitting under umbrellas, Korean kids play in the sand while English teachers from all over the country and U.S. military personnel party on the beach. It’s definitely a diverse place.

Walking a suspended bridge near Haeundae Beach.

7-11’s in Korea commonly have outdoor seating areas, and people treat them more like cafes than convenient stores!

Our accommodations were quite a ways away, but our friends Ashley and Justin lucked out with an amazing little hostel dually named Marubee Guest House and Mr. Egg House. This little gem had an amazing view of the beach, provided them with free homemade breakfast, and the owner could not have been any nicer. It’s a tiny place–it’s actually an apartment that’s been converted to a hostel! There are just two bedrooms and two bathrooms; one bedroom is a mixed dorm and the other is an all-girls dorm. Again, we didn’t stay here, but we spent a lot of time hanging out in the common room and I must say, this place is pretty awesome.

We have so many more amazing pictures and stories from Busan, so stay tuned!

Happy Memorial Day America!

To all my fellow American’s–happy Memorial Day!

Pearl Harbor

American flag at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

We got back from beautiful Busan late last night, so I haven’t had a chance to upload any photos or write up anything about our trip yet. But overall, we had a great time–Busan is an awesome city, and we got plenty of sun and relaxation. I hope everyone who celebrates Buddha’s birthday had a great three day weekend, and hope all the American’s celebrating Memorial Day have a great extra day off as well!

Happy Birthday Buddha!

Today is Buddha’s birthday, which is a national holiday here in Korea. We’re celebrating the founder of Buddism’s birthday by playing in Busan for the long weekend. Three days of sun and salt water is just what I’ve been needing! So, happy birthday Buddha–and thanks for the day off!

If you’re in Korea (or another country that celebrates Buddha’s birthday), how are you celebrating today?

Prague: Unexpected Jewel of Europe

From the desk of Matt Vanni: runs slower than a bullet, can leap over …some small people, super-cool husband, and all-around awesome guy.  I hear he even writes blogs for his wife when she gets too busy!  Oh, and of course, amazingly handsome.  At least that’s what all his students yell (appropriate word) at him daily.

A few years ago I took an amazing trip to Europe with my best friend Joe.  We hopped from city to city, trying to get in as much of what Europe could offer in the short time we were there.  It is my favorite vacation (so far).  We went to many of the same cities Andrea has already written about here, but I’d like to share some photos and comments about one she missed out on: Prague!

Outside of Rome and Paris (maybe), Prague is the most beautiful city I’ve been.  Joe and I went in the spring of 2009 when the Czech Republic was part of Euro zone, but was still trying to meet criteria to become a full member (using the Euro, etc..).  Regardless of what the outlook is for the Euro now, back then it meant (at least for tourist) that the Czech Republic was making huge investments in public infrastructure and doing everything they could to boost their economy (I guess that’s what EVERY country is trying to do…but they seemed to be really putting in the effort at the time).  For us this meant great transportation and hotels, while still being really cheap!!!

The mix between the Gothic buildings and red clay shingles was amazing.

Saint Vitus’ Cathedral

The city was astoundingly beautiful.  I had never imagined that we would find castles and churches that dated back to the 9th Century; I thought everything would have been lost in the many wars that have torn apart that part of the world.  It seemed like no matter where we went, there was something amazing to see!  And after traveling through most of Western Europe, the architecture so strikingly different.   More than once we found ourselves just standing and staring.

The Prague Orloj is a medieval astronomical clock. Yeah, we sat infront of this at least once a day, every day we were in Prague.

When not walking around, we were eating.  Of course.  The food was so good at one restaurant we found that in the 4 days we were there, we ate there 3 times.  And the beer was delicious too!!!

Here’s the place to eat! I don’t think I’ve ever had more fresh tasting food. And yes, Joe did pose for every picture on our 1 month trip with his eyes closed.

Proud to say this was not posed or photoshopped at all! Just an incredibly cute old couple, and the amazing photo skills I have with my trusty point-and-shoot PS A540. Take that big camera junkies! (Yeah, I know Andrea’s one.)

East Meets Further East: Eating Indian Food in Seoul

If there’s one thing Korea’s not lacking, it’s good food. As I’ve mentioned before, food is cheap, and usually very delicious. However, one thing Seoul is lacking a little bit is good foreign food. There’s a little of everything, but the foreign restaurants are flung far across the massive city of Seoul, and they’re also usually more expensive than Korean food. When it comes down to it, you can find basically every kind of cuisine, but you just have to search a little bit.

One thing that’s not as hard to find here as other foreign cuisines is Indian food. Because a lot of people from that part of the world work in factories in Korea, there are some pretty decent Indian food joints–we even have two places in our little town! But by far, the best we’ve had here in Korea is Everest Restaurant, in the Dongdaemun neighborhood of Seoul.

We found this gem through our friend Andrew, and even though it’s far away and hard to find, we manage to get there pretty frequently. It’s a Nepalese, Indian and Tibetan restaurant, and most of the staff are actually from those regions. Everyone who works there can speak nearly perfect English too, which is a nice bonus. They have a large variety of items, including chicken, lamb and veggie dishes, several kinds of naan, and lots of popular Indian drinks (like lassis and mango juice). They also have really cheap beer, which Matt appreciates.


The aftermath.

The entire restaurant is covered in trinkets and decor from India, Nepal and Tibet, and they even sell a small selection of items from these countries. Plus, there’s always a Bollywood movie playing on the television–and who doesn’t love to see a good song and dance number to cheesy Indian music while eating? I know we do.

To get to Everest Restaurant, take Seoul Subway line 1 to Dongdaemun. From there, take exit 3, and walk straight until you reach the end of the block. Turn left, and then take a right down an alley. The restaurant is on the second floor of the building that will be in front of you–watch for the signs.