School finished for the week and speaking tests were over! It was time to head out for another weekend exploring beautiful Korea. This weekend’s trip took me down to see a couple of islands: Saryangdo & Somaemuldo.
We arrived into Tongyeong at dusk and after a bit of figuring out which ferry terminal we needed to go caught the last local bus out. All very organised we thought, saving us a 45 minute bus journey in the morning so we could get out hiking early.
Unfortunately none of us had thought to check what the area around the port was like and after walking down the ominously dark road to the port, the emptiness and gentle sounds of the wash splashing against the harbour wall confirmed that there was nothing there.
We were out in the middle of nowhere facing the prospects of trying to find a bench that we could sleep rough on overnight and pray that we didn’t get eaten alive by insects. I searched for a 모텔 (motel) in my korean search and got the closest result 5km away. One of the girls I was with, Megan, searched for a 민박 (B&B) and got results just over a kilometre away – so off we wandered along the pitch black road, phone lights on, scaring at least one driver not expecting people along the road.
We arrived to a small cluster of buildings along the river and found the B&B looking very closed and shut up. Some knocking resulted in nothing, but it did have a flat roof that for a while was going to become our bed. Walking through the buildings we saw a couple more little 민박 signs and after another failure, calling one of the numbers got an answer and after some awkward conversation trying to say we were stood outside, the owner appeared and to our huge relief we ended up with a room to sleep in.
The next morning we woke earlyish for what was now just a short stroll the ferry terminal to ride over to Saryangdo. It was beautiful hiking weather, slightly overcast, but very calm. It was a nice ride over as we sipped our coffees, driving underneath the bridge and pulling into the tiny port.
The hike at Saryangdo isn’t a particularly long one, but it’s pretty steep and has a beautiful rocky ridge line to traverse. The views from the top gave a stunning 360 of the ocean surrounding the island and other islands dotted around. Climbing up and down the ridge was a mixture of rocky climbs and a few ladders – some incredibly steep that seemed to be disappearing off the edge of the cliff.
Two sections on the top featured suspension bridges to get across the valley. The shrieks of the Koreans as they were crossing and the delights of old men discovering their inner child and jumping up and down to scare their wives was pretty great.
We climbed down by early afternoon and after some delicious food napped hard on the ride back.
The next day we were heading a famous Korean island, Somaemuldo. A small island about 90 minutes from the mainland that has been used in many Korean dramas. It features two islands connected by rock bar that is crossable during low tide.
It was a pleasant hike round the first section with some lovely views of the famous lighthouse and cliffs, although difficult to take a good photo due to unsightly buildings and mining that had been built on one corner.
We arrived at the crossing with the water still about knee deep. I decided this was shallow enough for me and set off jumping from rock to rock as the Koreans all stood on the shore waiting for me to fall in. Unfortunately I disappointed them and got the island to myself until the tide had fully gone down and the masses could cross.
From perched high up on the cliffs you could see some fisherman down on the rocks fishing for the day. I really liked the shot, but armed with only my point and shoot camera I couldn’t really get the detail that I wanted. So I zoomed in and took about 30 shots of it before later patching it together. Really happy with how it came out, this is the low quality version, but the higher quality one is on my flickr where you can zoom in and see the detail.
Our journey all the way back was fairly long, but smooth all the way. This week at work is super easy as I don’t have half my classes due to exam prep. In a month’s time I’ll be away on vacation and it certainly feels like holiday mode is already on.