I have just returned home from Chuseok, and though my body has not fully recovered, I am left with one million amazing memories after the long weekend. Chuseok is Korean Thanksgiving, which I spent relaxing on the beach and exploring Busan with some great friends. Though I currently have no voice, a tired body, and a sore right arm, I would describe the weekend with one word: perfect.
I arrived in Busan around 10 am on Saturday morning. Though we were told by many that Chuseok traffic would be crazy, we were able to make it to Busan in about 45 minutes by bus. Our hostel was a very short walk from Haeundae beach, which is the most popular beach in South Korea. It is beautiful and clean, and the water is freezing cold. Once we were settled in, we ate lunch at a Canadian sports bar. After my first Bloody Mary in a month and some free shots, we made our way to the beach. We played Korean drinking games and bonded over the beautiful view.
After a Japanese dinner and a couple (or more) bottles of soju, I found myself sitting on a beach, wearing a glowing pink hair bow, watching my friends join in the Korean tradition of lighting off fireworks to celebrate Chuseok. We continued to adventure to a few different bars making many new friends along the way. The best part of the night, however, came at about 2:30 am. As I walked back to the beach from a nearby bar, I came across a cat, a rabbit, 2 hedgehogs and a pig. These animals were just hanging out near a tree just off the beach. Of course, I played with them for what seemed like hours as a new Korean friend taught me the word for each of the animals, all of which I quickly forgot.
Saturday morning we ventured out to Gamcheon Cultural village. Though I was tired (and a bit hungover) this was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The village was previously a site for refugees during the Korean War. In 2009, the South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism turned the village into a creative community. The small concrete buildings were painted bright colors and the street was covered in graffiti. It was humbling to see something that was once so dark turned into something beautiful.
Saturday afternoon was spent eating street food and relaxing on the beach. Just so you know, Korean corn dogs are way better than American corn dogs. Of course, we went out Saturday night. I had Mexican food for the first time in a month, which was life-changing. It was no Amigos, but you take what you can get. After a drink in a bag, some beach bonding time, and a night that can only be described as chaotic, I returned to our hostel only to find we were locked out. We sat on the steps til about 5 am, and only after help from a nearby restaurant owner, a random Korean man, and a few police officers, we were able to get in.
The weekend was crazy. It was thrilling and overwhelming and tiring. But more than that, it was perfect. By Monday I found myself ready to return to my little yellow apartment in Onsan. After a long weekend with great friends, many drinks, and a few too many adventures, I was ready to be home. I am so thankful for the new people I’ve met, the ways that we’ve bonded, and the memories we’ve already shared. But more than anything, this Korean Thanksgiving, I am Thankful that my little yellow apartment is really beginning to feel like a home.