Monday, August 17, 2009

Samcheok (Haesindang Park ,Hwanseongul Cave)

Friday we left Bundang to a town called Samcheok about 4.5 hours south east of Seoul. We took the subway to the express bus terminal which is about 10 stops from home.

We got to the bus terminal bought our tickets for the 11:10pm bus and had about 1.5 hours to kill so we went found a place for dinner. It was one of many restaurants at the terminal but one of the only ones that was actually open. I ended up ordering a beef plate of some sort, and had real mixed feelings about it. After dinner we hung, chatted for a bit, and took some pictures.

We finally boarded the bus for what seemed like it might be the longest ride in the world. On a positive note I was pretty wiped so I ended up sleeping for most of the ride. We ended up getting into Samcheok around 4:30am and found a motel in the area. The motel ended up being super cheap and we were able to get 2 rooms for $160 for both nights total. Now the motel wasn't a 4 star AAA approved establishment but it was 5 million times better than any motel you would find back home. Everyone claimed a spot and crashed for a few hours. Saturday morning we all showered up and wandered out for food and to grab another bus to Haesindang Park. The ride to Haesindang Park took about 20 minutes and dropped us in the small fishing village. I had read a bit about the park but knew it would be an entertaining trip when I saw the street vendors selling these.

The legend of the park goes as follows "Once upon a time, in a coastal village there lived a beautiful girl who used to gather seaweed. In the distance there was a rock called Aebawi where plenty of seaweed grew. One day, this young girl was taken out to the rock by a man in a boat. The man, who had a pact to marry her, promised to return to the rock to pick her up after she had collected seaweed there and he went back to the village. At dusk, she waited for the man to come and take her home, but he was unable to come and fetch her due to wild waves. That very night a terrible storm arose and a large wave struck the rock, drowning the ill-fated girl. From the time of her death, the fishing catches turned bad for the village and so a rumor started circulating among the villagers that it was due to the dead girls bitter soul. Finally, the people of the village decided to offer carved wooden phallics as a sacrifice inside Haesindang to console the bitter soul of the unmarried girl. Mysteriously, after that, the village again enjoyed a good catch."

So the entire park was filled with beautiful scenery and penises. It was pretty entertaining all together.

We spent a few hours at the park and took the bus back to Samcheok. The public transportation in Korea is pretty awesome. Subway, buses, trains, or taxis are readily available pretty much throughout the country. We got back to the motel and discovered there was a huge sauna/spa complex that was free to people staying at the motel. We went to the complex for about a hour, and then went out for dinner, the beach, and noraebang.

We got back to the motel pretty late, slept for a few hours and got ready to go to the Hwanseongul Cave.

The cave was another 20 minute ride but this time we went by taxi. I didn't know what to expect on our way there, but I can tell you one thing... I didn't expect a mile hike up a steep Korean mountain to the cave, a mile trip inside of the cave, and then a mile back down. Again though the surrounding area of Hwanseongul had some beautiful scenery.

The cave itself was super massive. It felt as though it went forever. At some points it felt a bit repetitive but overall it was pretty cool to see. Also to think that on the outside was nothing but trees and life growing while on the inside was this whole other world.

My first Korean road trip was a solid one. Looking forward to much more to come. Sorry for the super long post, there was just so much that was going on. More pictures from the trip are on my flickr page.

1 comment:

  1. The Beef Plate isn't indicative of Korean Food. There's good stuff to be had too.