Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Being Touristy: Taejongdae 

I’m just going to be completely honest here: January is not an easy month.  Here in the “warm” southern tip of Korea, it’s absolutely freezing.  I mean, today, I woke up to a chilly 16 F with a “feels like” temp of 6 F.  I would love to just hibernate till March.  

But the thing about crazy cold January temps is that when, on a weekend morning, you see that it will be 40-something F with no wind chill factor, you hear yourself saying to your husband, “Hey, honey, it’s going to be nice today.  Let’s go somewhere.”  And he would probably rather stay in and introvert and watch movies and what have you, but because he loves you (and you have to admit he was kind of spot-on that time he said you’re like a puppy that needs to be walked), he says, “Okay, where do you want to go?”

And the funny thing is, you know exactly where: Taejongdae.

After our overnight excursions in November and December left us feeling, well, at the very least sleep-deprived and somewhat jaded, we decided that maybe it would be best to take only day trips for a while. (**We did take a quick trip to Seoul at the end of December, but we stayed again at Dragon Hill Lodge and kind of just vegged out.  It was nice, even without karaoke in our room.**). And the the thing I’ve noticed now that I’ve lived in several touristy places (Spain, Hawaii, Monterey) is that it’s easy to miss going to the closest sites because you find yourself thinking, Oh that’s right here in town.  We’ll get to it.  Then you never do.

Taejongdae is a beautiful park in Busan with lots of scenic trails and vistas, a lighthouse, and a tram that will take you around a lovely loop if you don’t feel like walking.  I had heard about what a great destination it was, and I knew it wasn’t that far because I’d seen lots of signs for it. We loaded up the kids (Skyler didn’t go because she was doing homework, and Jayna had already returned to California) and left quickly.  

We got to the parking area fairly easily and headed up the hill to the trams.  The kids were, as expected, super excited to take a ride on one.  I started wondering what kind of wild ride it would be when I saw this sign while in line for tickets, 
but it was quite tame, much safer than the average taxi ride here.   
There is a wide sidewalk that runs along the road, though, and Matt and I thought that maybe sometime we could go for a hike/walk there just the two of us.  There were steep pine-covered hills and views of rocky beaches.  Glimpses of the water made me realize just how busy of a port city Busan is.  I mean, I see ships coming in from my apartment, but to see so many out in the water gave me a new perspective.

We got off the tram at the observation point where we found a little cafe and — because Korea — a convenience store.  Koreans LOVE their convenience stores, and now I do as well. There was also a clearly-marked bathroom; this sign says “This is the toilet” in case the drawings of stick figure man and woman doing The Pee Pee Dance didn’t clue you in.  You know I can appreciate this, and if you thought this was too classy a blog for me to take a picture in front of it, well, I’m sorry (and you probably haven't read that many posts).

We walked to the lighthouse, and then climbed up it, enjoying the views of the rocky shorelines with crashing waves.  

Wyatt told me again how he wanted to live in a lighthouse someday. *sigh* Don’t we all, buddy? 

 I wanted to walk down below the lighthouse to a traditional picnicking area, 

but we decided we should probably be starting home for lunch.  We paused to take in the views along the way, though, then got back on the tram to the entrance.  
Near the parking lot, there was also a memorial dedicated to those who had provided medical assistance during the war.
Though their expressions might not fully convey it, the kids loved it and want to go back.

Matt and I do too, for sure.  I think it will be even more beautiful once it warms up and everything turns green again.  There were benches under pavilions that had wisteria vines twisting up over them, and as much as I honestly try to live in the moment, I couldn’t help picturing what that would look like in, for instance, May.

But it was the perfect excursion for that day.  We came home happy with what we’d seen and inspired to see more.  There was still plenty of time to do other things and relax, so I was glad I’d pushed to be a tourist in the city we live in.

{How about you?  Are there local sights that you haven’t seen yet but keep meaning to? Or a favorite place to visit not far from where you live?  Please share in the comments!}

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