Friday, December 19, 2008

South Korea 2008 - Northeast South Korea

One of Korea’s redeeming features, at least while traveling during the winter, is that it is eerily devoid of western-tourists – especially once you venture away from the big cities. This feeling of escapism was felt no stronger on this trip then when I made my way up the northeast coastline of South Korea. North-South Korea doesn't get many western tourists; however, they do get the odd uninvited visitor from the north. In fact, most of the entire coastline is fenced off with barbed wire and lookout points and beaches are lit up at night in order to spot intruders. The best place to catch a reminder of this threat is the coastal resort town Jeongdongjin, where the a captured North Korean submarine lies on display next to a US battleship. Jeongdongjin also boasts a quite spectacular hotel built in the shape of a vessel on a cliffside, making it a noteworthy stopover.
My first stop in this region was a night in Samcheok. Although there's not really a whole lot to see within the town itself, there are quite a few interesting spots to visit within its local bus-route proximity. Amongst these are the enormous limestone cave at Hwanseon Donggul and the rather exotic Haesindang Gong-won park at Sinnam where the locals erected, erm... erections, in dedication to a young girl who drowned in the nearby seas with her chastity still intact.
After Samcheok, I headed up to Sokcho and the glorious Seoraksan National Park. It was just my luck however that my one day in this hikers paradise happened to coincide with the worst weather I was to experience on the entire trip. It still didn't stop me from taking a nice hike through the park to one of its many mountain caves, as well as riding the cable car up into the mountains. There was also another memorable, if somewhat creepy Korean-cuisine experience awaiting me in Sokcho, where I ordered a ''squid sashimi' to go along with my spider-crab main course. Despite being decapitated into pieces, the raw squid pieces were still far from dead and wiggling and sucking inside my mouth as I chewed them down! Again, one of those 'only in Korea' type experiences.
For more photos/information on this segment of my trip, check the website here:

No comments: