Each year, the southern coastal city of Busan holds a Lotus Lantern Festival to celebrate Buddha’s birthday in Korea. Thousands of lanterns in all shapes and sizes are on display throughout historical sites in the city, including a lantern parade.
Eric and I had a long weekend in May. We decided to spend it at the beach and also wanted to view the lanterns at Samgwangsa Temple near Seomyeon subway station.
Buddha’s birthday celebrations last for weeks in Korea, and since we decided to check out the lanterns on a whim we never figured out exactly when all the different events and festivities were. If you decide to go next year, be on the lookout for announcements for special events and activities leading up to the festival, especially for foreigners.
During our Busan stay we also visited my favorite Busan beach, Gwangalli Beach. It’s smaller than the most popular beach, Haeundae, but also less crowded and not so far out the way. There are some good restaurants along the boardwalk, too. We hung out here, playing music, making Periscope videos, waving to irresistibly cute kids and making friends with people who wanted us to take a picture (OF them and not WITH them, for once!).
Eric brought his sax along in the hopes of finding jazz musicians in Korea’s second-biggest city—and he wasn’t disappointed. I’d discovered a few potential jazz spots online and we checked them out on Friday night. One club, called Monk, invited Eric to come back and play with the other musicians the next night. So on Saturday we returned and had a pretty enjoyable time with the featured band. Eric was so happy to finally play with other jazz musicians, so I was glad we stuck it out and returned (because we were actually pretty tired that day and considered turning in early…anyone who knows jazz clubs knows that their shindigs can start late).
Even if there is not a festival happening, Busan is a great place for a weekend getaway when you want the relaxation of the shore but the accessibility of a city and a little bit of jazz to lift your spirits. We may find ourselves there again very soon!