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Published: July 17th 2012
9th Sept: Finished work for the holidays, halluelah! (Think I may have spelt that word wrong.) Hopped on the bus to Seoul with my backpack and stopped off for a Burger King for my tea before heading to the pick up point. Stopped for a coffee at the bus station and then got kicked out of the cafe as they were shutting. Onto the bus just before midnight, Ebuh had managed to save me a seat, which was great. Had a natter and then tried to sleep.
10th Sept: Was unable to sleep due to the cramped conditions and the fact someone was snoring very loudly on the bus. We arrived at Chuam beach in Gangwon-do around 3 or 4. I was gona watch the sunrise there but as the weather was pretty miserable, it was raining, I decided to stay on the bus. Apparantly it is a really picturesque beach, but I will never know. We drove to a small town nearby and went in search of a toilet. Thank you Lotteria! Before heading to Dunkin' Donuts for a coffee and breakfast. The poor bloke in Dunkin' Donuts didn't know what hit him when about 50 people entered his
shop. Bless one of our tour guides even ended up helping him. Back on the bus we drove to Mukho harbour, waited around there for a bit before boarding our ferry to Ulleungdo. The ferry took around 2 and a half to 3 hours, the journey wasn't bad. Took some sea sickness stuff before we left and even managed a sleep on the way over. Ulleungdo is a volcanic island and about 120 kilometers from the mainland.
When we arrived on the island we had a short walk, about 15 minutes to our hotel. The hotel was fine, nothing special. Had lunch in the hotel. Standard Korean fare and then went for a quick nap. Headed out around 1 or 2 ish on a short hike around part of the island. We headed back down to the harbour and thenfollowed the coastal path around the edge of the island. The area was really beautiful, and the water looked gorgeous. Some people were jumping in, but I was already wet enough off the rain. The coastal path was really cut into and through the rocks and was really cool to walk around. Then we headed in land a bit and
headed up some hills. When we were walking in land we saw some goats just wandering about on the path and some old abandoned and dilapadated buildings. We also got to see some nice views out over the island as we found an observatory style building. Had a bit of a look around.Thought we got lost at one point on the walk but we didn't and we headed back to the town.
Next stop was the Dokdo Museum and cable car. The museum was okay had some information about Dokdo but there wasn't a lot of stuff in English. The cable car ride was okay, although it was pretty foggy, so we couldn't really see where we were going. When we arrived at the top it was still very foggy, so we couldn't see the Holy Grail aka Dokdo. On a side note, we later found out that the cable car had been closed as it was unsafe, but somehow our tour leader got them to open it for us. Not reassuring. However we did survive. After dinner back at the hotel, we retired to uor room to drink some cans and watch K-dramas.
11th Sept: An early
start this morning, still knackered from the lack of sleep. Had brekky at the hotel and then headed out for our bus tour around the island. However the weather gods were still not on our side as it was still peeing it down. The bus tour around the island was good, although the rain did dampen my spirits a bit. It was a really pretty island and I would love to go again, if it could be guaranteed that the weather would be good. Also it was nice travelling in Chuseok, as it meant that it was quite quiet, as most Koreans spend it in their hometowns with their families.
First we visited Chotdae bawi, which is a big rock that has a local folklore attached to it. The legend is that an old man and his daughter lived in the area together and his wife had died. One day the old man was out fishing and his boat didn't come back as there was heavy winds and high waves. The daughter spent several days grieving at the edge of the water. However she felt that her father was going to come back and she saw a sailing boat
Pumpkin and squid, two things that Ulleungdo is really famous for in Korea.
in the distance. he couldn't wait at the shore for the boat to arrive, so she swam out to meet it. However she became tired and the waves beat her, she was so exhausted that she turned into a rock (chotdae bawi). We also took a nice walk up these random stair at a harbour that gave us a nice view of the coastline. We also stopped at some funny shaped rocks in the sea to take some pictures. One looked like an elephant in putting its trunk in the sea.
We drove up to the Nari Basin, which was really pretty. It is the only flat ground on Ulleungdo. At the site there is the Albong Peak and another two villages that were divided by the molten lava. It is called Nari because the people who lived there way back when survived dying from hunger by eating the roots of Seommal Nari. There were some old style building in the village and we got to wander aronud and imagine what life must of been like back then. Lunch was meant to be served at a restaurant in the basin, but due to the bad weather, the boats hadn't
been running from the mainland and the restaurant was out of food. So it was back to the hotel for lunch. Didn't do much for the rest of the day, had an afternoon nap, lovely. Had dinner and a couple of drinks.
12 Sept: Didn't get much sleep due to the party going on outside. Plus we were up extremely early to head to Dokdo. Well excited! Dokdo is imfamous in Korea. Dokdo as it is known in Korea, Takeshima to the Japanese and the Liancourt Rocks to the rest of the world, are two small islets in the East Sea / Sea of Japan, surrounded by some other small rocks. Both Korea and Japan lay claim to the rocks, and although they are closer to the Japanese mainland than the Korean mainland, the island of Ulleungdo is closer than the nearest Japanese island. The area is a good area for fishing and has some natural gas deposits. Therefore the Koreans want ot hold onto the island. A couple of Korean guys live on the island and fish for a living. Also coastguards and police help keep the island free of Japanese.
So we set off on the
ferry very early that morning. It was a very rough crossing thaty was meant to take an hour and a haf but ended up taking two and a half hours. I along with the majority of the boat felt extremely ill. Luckily I wasn't sick and boats make me sleepy so I nodded off for a bit. However the boat was a mess, the toilets were apparantly likea war zone, not that I would venture in. People were being sick off the side of the boat, people were laying down all over the floor. Never seen green Koreans before, but there were deffo a few on the boat. When we finally arrived at Dokdo, it was a real pleasure to be on dry land. However we weren't there very long, maybe 15 minutes max. Lots of proud Koreans getting their photos taken with their Taegukkis. It was definately a quick been there and done that kind of experience. Also we weren't techincally on Dokdo proper, but rather the quay they have built attached to the island. You are not allowed on the island proper as it is a ind of nature reserve and they want to protect the plants and
wildlife that grow there.
Our fifteen minutes went too quick and we reluctantly got back on the ferry. The ride back was rough as well and it was a relief to get back to Ulleungdo. Our first stop was the chemist to buy some sea sickness tablets for our next boat journey that afternoon back to the Korean peninsula. Then lunch, after vomming up kimchi, we weren't really in the mood for Korean, so went to a pizza place next to our hotel. Good vegetable pizza although it took forever to come. The boat ride back to the mainland took about tweo and a half hours and was fine, nowhere near as torturous as our trip to Dokdo that morning. Then it was on the coach back to Seoul and then subway and bus combo home. Thank goodness the buses and subways still run after midnight on major holidays, England take note. Quick KFC (thank you for being 24 hrs) and off to bed for some much needed rest.
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