Tag Archives: buddha

Visit Korea’s coolest surfer town, Yangyang

A lone surfboard sits on the sand at Yangyang’s Jukdo Beach (양양 죽도해변) in South Korea. SCREAMfmLondon

When my friends and I rolled into Yangyang around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, the cool sea air was almost as shocking to our city-girl systems as the dark and deserted streets. We stepped off our bus from Seoul and searched for our guesthouse among the storefronts — all closed for the night.

I guess we won’t be getting any dinner tonight, I thought.

“It is only nine, right?” we double-checked our phones for the time.

Yangyang’s streets are lined with surfboards and trafficked by bicyclists and skateboarders. SCREAMfmLondon

We finally located our guesthouse, but there were no signs of life there either.

“Hello?” we called. “Is anybody there?”

Rounding the corner, we spotted two employees. One was sound asleep, reclined in a massage chair. The other was lying beside him on the couch, sleeping with a magazine over his face.

“Hiiiiii,” we tried again. Magazine Guy stirred and began smacking Massage Chair guy to wake up and help us.

So, Yangyang seems pretty chill, I concluded as he drowsily checked us into our room.

Surf shops and guesthouses as far as the eye can see. SCREAMfmLondon

Surfers enjoy the clear water in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

The convenience stores were still open, though, so we bought some beers to enjoy at the wooden tables near the beach. We sat and talked for a few hours before something strange happened.

People started rolling by on skateboards and bikes. The taco stand next door flipped on its lights and opened its doors. A loud group of friends sat down outside of the bar down the road.

I finally understood. Yangyang wasn’t dead — it was just having its siesta before the late-night party started.

Cold but refreshing. SCREAMfmLondon

One of many surf schools in Yangyang that offer rentals, lessons and repairs. SCREAMfmLondon

The next morning, Yangyang was even more exciting. There are more than 20 surf shops in the small area offering rentals and lessons, and the beach was full of instructors teaching their students the proper techniques.

Everyone enthusiastically spoke about the waves in Yangyang — perfect for surfing, they said. The water is cold but not unbearable, and the beach popular but not too crowded.

Beautiful, clear water in Yangyang, South Korea. SCREAMfmLondon

The primary modes of transportation for Yangyang residents: surfboards and skateboards. SCREAMfmLondon

Yangyang is such a cool, fully-developed surfer town, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t always been like this. Surfing is not something typically associated with South Korea, and the sport has been gaining popularity only in the past few years.

What’s a surf town without a burger shack? SCREAMfmLondon

Bikini Burger in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Busan’s Haeundae Beach is famously crowded in the warmer months, and there aren’t many surfable waves along the Korean coastlines. Yangyang is a hidden treasure for surf enthusiasts in South Korea.

Surfers enjoy riding the waves in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

All streets lead to the ocean. SCREAMfmLondon

Jukdo Beach in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Aloha from Surfrise, a popular surf shop in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Yangyang residents are often dressed in wet suits or casual, beach clothes (ponchos, board shorts, etc.). Many of them even sport long hair and tattoos.

A man rinses off his board after surfing in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

A chill coffee shop in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Walking around Yangyang, it’s easy to forget that you’re not actually in Southern California. Until you see the little old ladies hanging up their laundry, or taste the fresh kimchi (delicious!).

Hikers enjoy the view from the mountain beside Jukdo Beach. SCREAMfmLondon

Lush plants growing everywhere in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

A trail beside Jukdo Beach leads up a mountain where we found gorgeous plants, a spectacular view of the city, and a breathtaking Buddhist temple.

A Buddhist temple in Yangyang. SCREAMfmLondon

Buddha overlooking the water. SCREAMfmLondon

The view from above Jukdo Beach. SCREAMfmLondon

Sorry, Seoul. We love Yangyang now. SCREAMfmLondon

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Buddha’s birthday: Lotus Lantern Festival

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A fire-breathing dragon lantern impresses the crowds at Seoul’s annual Lotus Lantern Festival on May 16. SCREAMfmLondon

This weekend, Seoul hosted Yeon Deung Hoe — Korea’s annual Lotus Lantern Festival in honor of Buddha’s birthday on May 25.

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Yeon Deung Hoe is a festival to celebrate Buddha’s birthday on May 25. SCREAMfmLondon

The highlight of the festival is a spectacular lantern parade complete with pyrotechnics, traditional dancers, high school marching bands and an unimaginable variety of elaborate, multicolored lanterns.

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Some lanterns are religious, depicting scenes such as Buddha’s birth, while others show beautiful animals, characters from traditional folk tales and pigs riding motorcycles. SCREAMfmLondon

The parade is centered around the Jogyesa temple, the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, where lotus lanterns cover the entire structure throughout the month. Lanterns are also on display at the Bongeunsa temple in Gangnam and in Cheonggyecheon, where illuminated lanterns float down the stream at night through May 26.

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Here are some wise words from Larva, Korea’s favorite cartoon about poop and slugs. SCREAMfmLondon

After the parade, attendees gathered in Gwanghwamun Plaza at the base of the Grand Lantern for a post-parade celebration (hoehyang) featuring music and prayer. The Grand Lantern (a huge pagoda-shaped structure) is on display at the plaza from April 29 – May 26.

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At the end of the parade, everyone is invited to join in and walk behind it toward the celebration at Gwanghwamun Plaza. SCREAMfmLondon