Sokcho Intercity bus terminal tolilets!
I wonder why this one is reserved for foreigners? Are we in some way dirtier than the Koreans?
To celebrate Buddas birthday (May 2nd) and Childrens' day (May 5th) school closed for a 4 day weekend. We took this rare opportunity to go away for a couple of days and explore another part of Korea we hadnt yet been to. On Saturday we were working at the academy so we didnt leave Hwacheon until the Sunday. The bus to Sokcho from Chuncheon was (according to Lonely Planet) going to take 3 1/2 hours. However it only took 2 hours which was a pleasent surprise in the 28 degree heat where the driver refused to turn on the A/C. The intercity bus terminal is on a main street and we saw a brown sign which said "Sokcho Beach". For some reason I was under the impression it was really close to the terminal. We walked for at least an hour looking at the map we had just picked up. We saw a bridge and knew from the map that you had to cross the bridge to get to the beach side of the city. We spent another 30 minutes trying to get to the bridge and eventually stumbled on this raft taking people across the causeway. The raft itself took
The bridge to nowhere
about 5 minutes to cross the water and on the other side I expected to get on to this bridge - nope it was then I saw that the bridge in fact is not complete. I would have expected the map to say that however. So asking a guy there 'beachy' he says 20 minutes more. At this point we are decided to get a cab the remander of the way but there are none. We arrvied at the beach and the walk had been about 5 kilometres with our bags and the 4 litres of water we had stupidly bought, oh and the dog of course! I later found out that the raft we had taken was called 'Gaetbae Boat' and is in a area of Sokcho that housed North Korean refugees during the war and still today 60% of that area are North Koreans.
Once at the beach area there are many motels and hotels to choose from. I went in to a few and asked the price of a room. The prices ranged from 50,000 won to 120,000 won. I was quite taken aback as the Lonely Planet book, once again was totally off on this.
Maybe it was because it was a holiday weekend that they bumped the prices I'm not sure. Anyway as we were still looking a lady approached us and took us to a room in a tall building that wasnt a hotel or motel and offered us a room on the 10th floor overlooking the beach for 50,000 a night. We took it but i still dont understand how it works, there were about 6 elderly ladies on the sidewalk kind of scouting for guests for rooms. but the building we stayed in was more like an apartment building and maybe the lady owns the room we stayed in or leeses it or something. Anyway it was a good deal and about 50 metres from the beach.
The first day was walked along the beach, sat and watched the waves and watched the Dong Chun ferry sail out of the port to Russia. The down side of staying so close to the beach was the constant noise of people shouting and fireworks and this baseball arcade style game. (In a cage where the ball comes out of machine and I think you get a prize for hitting a certain number
how to cross the causeway in Sokcho
of balls) Every time a ball was struck it went 'ding' like the metal hitting metal sound ball on bat and this went on until 3am and started up again at 7am.
On Monday we were up early and went to explore the lighthouse observatory. We had learnt our lesson that it was a long walk back to the bus station and the lighthouse was further than that. so we took the bus, I pointed to the lighthouse on the map and assumed that as a local the driver would know where it was. After about 5 minutes on the bus as we were in the city area the driver told us to get off. He pointed down this side road and but it just lead to the port we had been lost in the day before! So we ended up walking the whole way again. What made it more frustrating was that it is VERY close to the bus terminal and we could have gone there as we arrived on Sunday! We took the bus back to the beachand sat for a couple of hours enjoying the sun, reading a magazine and watching the dog try and escape
the wind! Eventually i found a cardboard box that i put on the side and the dog slept for 2 hours in the box.I was under the impression dogs love the beach - not this one! He wouldnt go near the water, pooped in the sand (of course i picked it up) and slept in a box!
We found the beach area didnt have many places to eat, confusingly as I expected alot of seafood restaurants. There were a few, I dont eat seafood anyway so we decided to walk back towards the town past Emart and find a pizza take out. Travelling with a dog restricts you most in the eating dept. After 20 mins walking we still hadnt found a place that had pizza. Eventually we walked back and went in to Family Mart (at the bottom of our motel) and got a microwave meal there. We took it to the beach and ate it watching the kids shoot thier fireworks.
Tuesday morning saw us awake at 6am again because of the baseball game, grrr. I took the dog for a walk on the beach for one last time before packing and heading to the bus
stop for the 11:00 bus to Chuncheon.
A great few days, we were a bit disapointed that we didnt get to the Seoraksan National Park. Dogs are not allowed in National Parks and I knew this before we went. They do provide lockers at the entrance for your dog and I would have considered this if it wasnt 30 degreees. I just dont think its ok leaving a dog for any longer than 10 minutes in this heat with no ventilation is. So another time, maybe I will get to the National Park.
Budda - I hope you had a great birthday however old you turned. Kids - Happy Childrens' Day. Thanks to you guys for the long weekend!
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