Sand BuddhaLast weekend, a bunch of us took the bus down to Busan to enjoy the almost-summer temperatures and check out the annual sand festival. Quite a few professional sculptors were reported to be there, though we only saw one actually making something, and the range of distractions on the beach itself were quickly exhausted. We then found out that there was a separate sand sculpture competition open to the public, and immediately set to with shovel and hose to pack the loose sand down into a mound that we could carve something out of. There had been some heated discussion earlier as to what we’d make, but we settled on a dragon given that we’d come from Yongin (the Yong, 용/龍, means “dragon”) – it acquired a soju bottle, clouds and a mugunghwa (무궁화; Hibiscus syriacus) somewhere in the construction process. As we toiled away, a steady stream of well-wishers came and admired our handiwork (including a few event photographers) – but we didn’t end up winning any of the prizes.

Drinking dragon (1)Drinking dragon (2)

Drinking dragon (3)Drinking dragon (4)

Drinking dragon (5)Sand turtles

Sand RohPeace man

Sand O-TotoroSand ape

Haeundae kitesWith no events on Sunday (unless we felt like building another sculpture), we ventured underground to the Busan Aquarium – home to countless sea creatures and host to countless scampering kids. It turned out to be extremely difficult to take reasonable photographs due to a combination of low light, moving fish, dirty glass, curved tanks and harsh reflections, but I managed a few. We were mesmerised by the mudskippers for quite a while, watching them hop about their beach and defend their territories against wanderers, and distressed by the tiny enclosures for the seals and Pacific giant octopus. We had to cut our time in the shark/ray area a little short due to transport timetabling, but left pretty much as enriched as one can be having just visited a bunch of animals.

Haeundae jellyfishAquarium fine art

Haeundae anacondaHaeundae otters

Haeundae depressed fishHaeundae lobster

Haeundae coloured jellyfishHaeundae eel

Haeundae grouperHaeundae sharks