Getting Above It All in Yangsan

Settling in and getting to know Korea is going to take a while. Apart from the complete culture shock, the new job, indecipherable alphabet (yes, I am trying to learn it) and the blaring obviousness that I am not a local, the cities themselves can be overwhelming with their bright lights, complete lack of street signs and always open, go-go-go attitude. I decided to try and get to know Yangsan by getting my hiking shoes on and getting above it all.

Just a few moments out of Yangsan and off the highway, the first stop was a brand new Buddhist statue complemented by some well-worn prayer flags.

Everywhere you go here there seems to be outdoor training equipment. Beside the playgrounds, behind the subway station and even halfway up a deserted hill.

The spring flowers have been literally bursting open all over the city and high in the hills.

A local takes a hard-earned (or Soju induced) nap in what is no doubt a great place to relax.

Sitting a few steps removed from the city certainly makes it all seem much more manageable.

6 thoughts on “Getting Above It All in Yangsan

  1. I love it Tali! Props to you for biting of the biggest piece of culture shock you could possibly chew. I am in awe and look forward to hearing how you are finding life over there. Keep us posted!

    • Thanks Carly! Every day I am still amazed at how different things are here, in the culture, the shops and the way of life. I’ll definitely be posting more 🙂

  2. Hi! Welcome to Korea! I live in Japan now but I’m happy you could find some useful/relatable information on my blog. Korea was a tough one for me, it took me ages to grow to love it. Then I did, and I never forgot about it and it changed me in some many ways. The culture shock is HUGE, and don’t worry if you feel lost or angry or unsettled, it’s all part of the adventure. Make sure you go to Seoul a lot- it’s such a fun city with so many treasures, and take frequent trips. Korea is cheap to travel around, unlike Japan, so take full advantage of it. And make sure you have a solid group of friends! There are tons of meetup networks, mostly in Seoul but still.

    I now live in Tokyo, I’m a writer for magazines here, and it’s a different world but it’s amazing. I love Japan so much but I still think fondly about Korea every single day – there is something so charming about that country, no matter how angry it will make you feel at times.

    Email me anything if you have any questions!!

    • Thank you so much for your kind comment and offer to email you. Every day has been full of ups and downs, but I’ve made some great friends and am trying to laugh as much as I can every day. It’s definitely an adventure and I’m looking forward to making the most of the year here!
      I’ve been planning my weekend in Seoul and have 3 days full of fun, shopping and food that we can’t get in little Yangsan. Even weekend trips to the beach in Busan have been really refreshing so I can start the week on the right foot. We are organising lots of little day trips and weekend trips to get to know this country.
      You are so lucky to live in Tokyo, I went there in 2007 and loved it. I look forward to reading all about Tokyo and your Japanese adventures on your blog 🙂

  3. Tali!

    You are just the person I have been looking for! I might be teaching at the Pagoda school very soon and want to learn as much as I can about Yangsan before I make my final decision to teach there. I want to be as close as possible to Busan because of the beaches and yoga and other meetups. I would really appreciate it if you would answer some Q’s for me.

    – What are you doing in Yangsan?
    – What is there to do there?
    – Since I can’t teach in Busan, I would want to make a trip to the beach at least 4-5 times times a week.How long does it take to get to the beach or the nicer parts of the city?
    – How much is a roundtrip bus or train to the beach?
    – I was told the school is is located in the “newer part of Yangsan”. Any idea where that could be?
    – Is there a large supermarket, yoga, kayaking or martial arts classes?
    – Are you happy there? Or would you rather be in Busan and why?
    – Weird one…I like Korean food, but I am clinically addicted to plain, unsweetened yogurt, especially greek yogurt. Have you seen this in your local markets or the city?
    – Can I use my smartphone there for internet/skype?
    – I assume I would have to get a new cell to talk. Are they expensive?
    – Are there a lot of English speakers there?
    – What are some fun weekend trips I can make living there?

    Thank you sooo much

    -Sarah, NYC

    • Hi Sarah,

      I’ll do my best to answer all your questions, but if you’ve got more you’re welcome to contact me on taligoestravelling [at] gmail [dot] com too.

      I’m teaching English in Shindoshi (the new-town of Yangsan) which is where I imagine you’ll be. That’s where a lot of foreigners live (there are about 30-40 of us here). I like it here because it’s close enough to Busan (25 min – 1.5 hours depending where you want to go) that you can go there often, but far enough that you can save money easily. You can do yoga, taekwondo, join a gym here no problem.

      We have a big supermarket (I don’t remember if they specifically have Greek yoghurt, but they do have a decent dairy section). You’ll need to accept that food will be different and you won’t be able to get many things you’re used to at home, but that’s all part of the adventure, and you get to try exciting new types of Korean food instead!

      If you have a smart phone of course you can use it on a wifi (most cafés have it for free and your school should set up internet at your house). I got a prepay SIM card here for my iPhone but I know people who have been unable to get SIM’s for their Blackberry.

      Coming from NZ, beaches here don’t impress me much but it takes an hour to an hour and a half to get to two pretty ok beaches. That costs about $2.60 return.

      As for weekend trips, Korea is small enough that you can pretty much go anywhere in Korea for the weekend!

      – Tali

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