Bijin-do


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August 15th 2014
Published: September 23rd 2014
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15th Aug: We left late the night before from Nambu Bus Terminal in Seoul at 11:30 pm. We were on one of the posh buses only three seats in a row and we were in the first row, so we had loads of leg room to dump our stuff in. The traffic was good, an we arrived in Tongyeong very early, around 3:30 am. We had a lot of time to kill, as we weren't catching the ferry until 7:30. The bus terminal was pretty tiny and ghetto. It was pissing down with rain, so we sought refuge in the only place that was open a 24 hour McDonald's. We all ordered a meal, I had a 1955 burger, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. We managed to stay there until about 6 am.

We headed back to the bus terminal to buy the tickets for our return journey as they were unavailable online. The buses to Suwon were sold out. We couldn't believe it. Surely, how come all the tickets had been sold, when you can only buy them at Tongyeong Bus Terminal. Why the system isn't centralised and all online, I don't know or rather I do, it would be far too logical, surely if someone wants to travel somewhere then nine out of ten times, they want to book return tickets, too. Sorry, rant over! In the end, we had to book a ticket back to Nambu. We took a taxi to the ferry terminal, it took about 15 minutes and cost less than 10,000 won.

We collected our ferry tickets and headed to the boat. it was still peeing down. We got on the boat and got settled, the ondol was on and i was lovely an warm. We got settled on the floor. One of boat guys was a right dick, telling us to put our bags outside, in the pouring rain, we ignored him, it's not like the boat was full, and we couldn't put them on the floor either as it was boiling and would wreck all the food we brought. We all took a nap on the ferry journey, but it was too hot to be comfortable. The ferry journey was pretty quick, only forty minutes. It was still pissing down when we arrived at the port. The pension owner was there in his truck to pick us up. It was a two minute drive up to our pension.

Since it was still peeing down, we were allowed to check-in, even though it was only 8 am. The pension was nice, small, not really worth the extortionate amount of money we had paid for it, but that's what you get for booking a holiday weekend in the height of summer, in and up and coming new destination. We dumped our stuff, grabbed some of the bedding and crashed on the floor. We all napped for a few hours. We woke up around two o'clock, to see that the rain had stopped. We were happy, it was still really cloudy outside, and the cloud was hugging the mountain. It looked a bit creepy, moody and atmospheric. I love it when the clouds are low and distorting the view. We were starving, so we had a carpet picnic. We feasted on tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, carrots, tuna salad, and crackers. We polished it off with some of the gorgeous Seattle chocolate, that Malia had brought back form her trip home.

The weather had improved a lot, so we gathered up our stuff and headed down to the beach. We were staying on a hill, we couldn't see the beach as we were on the ground floor, but we could see the mountain and the village below. We wandered down through the village. It was like stepping back in time, the village had a really sleepy feel to it. It reminded me of a smaller version of Baeknyeong-do, but without the huge military presence. There were loads of tiny little one storied houses. We got down to the beach and took a little walk along. We stopped when we found a suitable patch and dumped our stuff. There had been an accident, and the police and paramedics rushed over to a big group of people standing around on the beach. We didn't know what had happened and we never will. A truck turned up and took the injured person down to the port and on to a boat back to the mainland. I hope they were okay and were able to receive medical attention to sort out whatever was the problem.

We sat chilling on the beach. It was beautiful. There isn't too much English information about Bijin-do online. There are a few blogs, but they all seem
Village LifeVillage LifeVillage Life

Oehang Village
to be a couple of years old and don't contain much information. The beach was a lot busier than we expected. Quite a few people had there tents set up and were ready to camp on the beach for the night. We had read that there were no facilities on the beach. However there were two toilet and shower blocks. One was on the beach and the other was one the right as the road forks, when coming from the port. We didn't use them, so I don't know if they were free or if you had to pay to use them. Since we were there in peak season, I don't know if they are open in the winter. There was also a largeish police presence. We think they were just there because it was summer and lots of visitors to the island. Because the island is part of Hallyeohaesang National Park, no campfires are allowed and I think that why the police are there. We saw people collecting firewood to start campfires on the beach.

We wandered along to the end of the beach and had a scramble on the rocks at the end of the beach. Then we headed back to our mat and sat chatting waiting for the sunset. The sunset was gorgeous. I must have taken a million photos of it, and not a single one will do it justice. After the crappy start to the day weather wise, the sunset more than made up for it. We headed back to the pension. Since we had to pay extra for barbecue coals, 10,000 a pop, we had decided to barbecue only one night on the trip. So we knocked up a veggie stir fry in our room and had some biscuits after. We thought about heading out for a look around the island, but we were feeling lazy and just relaxed in the room.

16th Aug: We had a bit of a lie-in this morning. I think we had finally caught up on all our missing sleep. We ate breakfast and headed out. Our plan for the first part of the day was to hike to the viewpoint, where you get the real money hots of the island. Bijindo is comprised of two islands / villages, outer and inner Bijindo, and they are connected by a sandbar (?). We were staying in the inner island, but right at the edge, so we were really nearer the outer island as we were a 5 minute walk from the sandbar. As you cross the sandbar, there are signs pointing you in the right direction for the hike. We headed uphill, the first part walking past farmers' fields. There are two options for the hike, a shorter steeper climb, or a longer, more gentle slope. We opted for the shorter one. It wasn't too bad heading up, but the heat made it torturous. I was dripping in sweat. Thank god, I don't have to look at myself, a big sweaty dripping mess. We came to the first view point. the view was gorgeous. We could see the beaches a little and we could see loads of the other islands in the area. You could spend ages in the Tongyeong area, hopping around all the different islands. This is my second visit to the area, and I hope to have many more, it's so beautiful and not really that well known with foreigners in Korea, especially those, up in the north.

We, then, continued ever upward, well it wasn't that for to the second viewpoint. This one was where you get the money shot from. It has a big deck and steps to sit on. It would be a great place to come and have a picnic. We spent a good while there, soaking up the gorgeous view. You could see the other islands in the distance and the view of the sandbar and the beaches below was perfect. I can't get over how gorgeous this place is. This may sound mean, but it doesn't really look like Korea, it looks more like the tropics of South East Asia. We took off again, this time to reach the peak, I think it was about a kilometer away. This trail lead us further into the island and instead of being all uphill, it was a mix of up and downhill, I would say that the stretches of downhill were easier, but they weren't as it was a bit slippery. We kept going and made it to the peak, what an underwhelming moment. We had expected to come out and see amazing views. This didn't happen. There was a viewing deck that we had to climb the steps to, to see the views. The views were just out over the ocean, it was pretty enough, but not as good as the views of the island at the last viewpoint. Also there wasn't a proper peak marker, it was just a small plaque attached to a signpost. We were slightly disheartened by this anticlimactic end to the hike, so we didn't linger at the top and headed back the way we had came. We stopped again at the gorgeous viewpoint. It was really busy this time, not like earlier. Then we headed down to the village and back to our pension.

We stopped off at the pension to pick up our lunch and headed down to the beach for a picnic. We took a different route to the beach this time. We walked through the village, it was gorgeous, everything was so small. The houses are all one storey and the walls aren't very tall too. It is so different from all the huge high rise apartment blocks of Seoul and Gyeonggi province. The little lanes between the houses were all curved and lead down to the beach, it was really quiet and there weren't many people about. I was totally lost in thought, imagining myself wandering around the small lanes in the olden days dressed up in a hanbok. Well, a girl can dream, and this one is dreaming she lived in 19th century Korea. We had a good old feast on crisps, boiled eggs, tuna salad, veggies, and crackers, sitting on our beach mat. The beach was a lot busier today, I don't know if the crappy weather played a part yesterday, but today there were loads of parasols out and people splashing around in the sea. We spent a few hours chilling on the beach, it was lovely after our earlier exertion. The others went in the sea for a bit, but I was happy chilling on the beach. We stayed down at the beach for sunset. It was quite pretty, but it had been prettier the night before.

Back at the pension we went to buy some meat. The pension has a tiny shop that sells stuff. We bought some pork from them and were trying to inquire about getting some veggies and leaves to go with it. This resulted in a phone call to the pension owner's daughter to translate, and the owner got us some onions and garlic from her fridge. She also took us out to her veggie patch, where she picked us a load of leaves, both regular lettuce leaves and sesame leaves to wrap our meat in. We went to the big barbecue room, where the bloke had set our grill up for us. We had a lovely barbecue. The meat was canny nice and we had cooked and scoffed the extra rice, and we also grilled the veggies that we had left from yesterday. We washed it all down with a few shots of cheong-ha.

It was still pretty early, so we decided to head out for a walk around the island to see how happening it was. We headed down the hill and we saw people sitting on the ledge above the beach enjoying a few beers. We also saw some people grilling their meat at the side of the road. There was a lovely relaxed atmosphere, you could tell everyone was on their holidays. When we had been at the pension earlier we could hear a load of loud music. We summed up that there must be noraebang going on somewhere on the island. We had seen that the restaurant at the bottom of the hill had a noraebang sign, but it was all shut up when we walked past. We found the noraebang in the open air restaurant just across the other side of the sandbar at the bottom of the mountain we had climbed earlier that day. We had a bit of a snoop and walked past and along the pitch black road a bit. I'm sure that a few of those vile sea cockroaches crawled over my feet. The road literally led to nowhere, so we turned back and headed into the noraebang/bar/restaurant. It was canny busy, as all the tables were taken. The staff freed up their own table for us and found some chairs. The bloke from our pension was there and he brought us the karaoke book and some paper to write our songs on. We were told to pick three songs, so we did. We sat drinking some beers until it was our turn to sing. We were watching all the ajummas ans ajoshis (older men and women) having a great time. They were serenading each other. We sang our songs and the men and women were dancing with us as we sang. We sat drinking our beers, these two youngish guys turned up and they sent some beers over to our table. They never spoke to us, just sent the beers over and continued chatting amongst themselves. The ajummas and ajoshis also donated their leftover beers to us when they were leaving. We stayed for a bit longer and sang a couple more songs. We were shocked when we got the bill, the beers were cheap at 3,000 won each. However, we were shocked at the price of the karaoke, it cost us 20,000 won to sing five songs. You normally pay that for your own room for an hour in Seoul. Since this is the only place on the island to sing, I suppose they can charge what they like and they do.

17th Aug: We got up fairly early this morning, around 8 am. We needed to make the most of our last few hours on the island before heading back to civilization and the dreaded bus journey north. There are two villages on the island Oe Hang village and Nae Hang village, their names literally translate into outer village and inner village. We were staying in Oe Hang village, and we had decided to visit Nae Hang, as it was only a couple of kilometres away. We walked up behind the pension and found the road that would take us to the other village. I think the walk took us about forty minutes. It was uphill at first and we stopped to take some photographs as we had amazing views of the beach and the mountain we had climbed yesterday. The road continued to the village. It was a mixture of uphill and downhill, it was a proper road, not that there were many cars driving along it. But there were quite a few people walking along. Most people were going in the opposite direction to us, as they were heading to Oe Hang village.

Nae Hang was a cute little village, it felt more like a proper village, unlike Oe Hang. We spent a while wandering around the village. It was so quaint, like stepping back in time. There were lots of herbs and veggies out drying in the sun. We were taking photos of an old tree, and a local man popped up to tell us that it was 500 years old. We walked around the village and down to the port. There were kids playing in the sea, even though there wasn't a proper beach. They looked like they were enjoying themselves. We walked along to the lighthouse and snapped some pictures of the village. In the village, one of the wall has some murals on it. One of the murals was saying that the very popular Korean TV show '2 Days 1 Night' (1박 2일), a kind of travel show, that recommends places to travel to in Korea. This is place is definitely on the map, if that show has been here. Before starting our walk back, we stopped at the funky little coffee shop, that was open. I had a lovely iced coffee, to revive me for the journey back. The cafe had cute murals painted on the walls, too.

We left the pension not long after eleven and walked down to the port. There were already loads of people queued up to get on the ferry and it still wasn't due for a while. The amount of bags that people had with them was unreal, especially if they had only been there for three days like we had. We joined the queue and watched another ferry come and go. There were a couple of guys coming around and checking everyone's tickets. I think they checked our ID, too, but to be honest I can't really remember. Our ferry arrived and we departed, I think, pretty much on time. The ferry called at Nae Hang village, it was funny to realise that we had been there just a few hours earlier but on foot that time. We stood outside on the ferry for the whole journey back to Tongyeong. We watched the coast go by, this area is so gorgeous, I really want to come back to visit and explore some more of the islands. The ferry took a little longer to get back to the mainland, than it had going to the island. I think the journey back took about an hour. We were deposited at the ferry port and since we were starving we went off in search for some lunch. We found a Kimbap Cheonguk (cheap Korean) and ordered a tonne of food, we got mandu, tuna kimbap, cheese donkas, and something else, which I can't remember what it was. The food was okay, and we got some extra kimbap for the bus journey back to Seoul. We were in luck as we were on one of the posh VIP buses to go back to Seoul. The traffic was pretty amazing and the journey only took about four hours. We were back in Seoul well before eight o'clock.


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