Built nearly three centuries ago in the old part of Taipei (a district called Wanhua), Longshan Temple is the most renowned temple in Taiwan, and a must-visit for those who are fascinated with Eastern religion.
There are a variety of deities in Longshan Temple that people may pray to, depending on their needs. For instance, there is the god of wisdom, god of business, goddess of childbirth… there is even a god for matchmaking!
Worshipers come from all over the island to offer fruits and delicacies to their gods, and in return, they ask for guidance. But unlike western religions, they don’t communicate through figures like priests; instead, they use signs, which in this case are two crescent-shaped wooden blocks. Basically, like a telephone to the gods!
This ritual is known is bwa-bwe, where people with questions toss the two pieces onto the ground in front of the statues of the gods; the way they fall is the answer. If one piece is facing up and the other is down, it’s a YES. If both pieces are facing down then it’s a NO, and if both are up it means NOT CLEAR.
See, simple. If ever you have a question that’s been bothering you, here is a guide on how to properly ask the gods for help.
Before entering, you must pray to the “host” god of the temple, in order to get permission for asking questions: state your name, birthday and address to the host, which in this temple is the goddess of compassion and mercy, Guanyin.
Once in the temple, pray to the rest of the gods, starting from the right. Then you may go to the god you would like to talk to.
Ask “Are you there?”, because he/she might be busy. You need a YES to move on to your question; if not, wait for another few minutes and ask again.
Ask your YES/NO questions, and be precise. If your question involves a person, give details on who he/she is.
Now, if you want to have a more in-depth answer, you can also pull a wooden stick out of a bucket close to the altar. Each stick has a number on it, corresponding to an ancient Chinese saying.
State your question, and ask whether he/she is willing to give you a stick; you need three consecutive YES answers to pull out one stick.
Once you have a stick, ask if it is the one he/she wants you to have; same with the three YESes rule.
If the god gives you three YESes for the stick, you can get a piece of paper with your Chinese saying, and go to a member of the staff at the temple for further interpretation.
Visiting eastern Korea has been one of the priorities of this trip.
So.. what made me want to go to this part of Korea? A month after I return from my 49 days in Korea back in 2011, there was a new variety show, 铁路次文化, being aired on channel 8. It is a travel documentary, hosted by one of my favourite personalities, Pornsak. What is unique about this show is that it focuses on railroad travels. And yes, Korea was featured as well and yes these places were in my to-do-list since then!
If you’re interested, I’ve found the full length episodes on tudou, mandarin with english subs (hopefully the link remains valid)
Pretty amazing right? All it takes is just one documentary to start off my adventure!
Alright so if you have been reading my previous entry, after staying one night at Anmyeondo (Monday night) and wasting Tuesday afternoon away due to the rain, we spent Tuesday evening packing our luggage and shifting it from Twin Rabbit Guesthouse at Hongdae to Namsan Guesthouse in Myeongdong. After which, we packed a small bag for 3D2N and went over to Cheongnyangyi Station for our 23:15 train, bound for Jeongdongjin.
(Despite the fact that we were running late, we still halted in our footsteps to take a photo =p)
While trying to collect our tickets at the counter, they informed me that my reservation had been cancelled. Prior to the trip. I was trying to retrieve my booking from the website but they informed me that there was “no booking found”. However, when I check my credit card transaction, the amount was pending for deduction. Confusion, confusion but I did not investigate further and yes, we were at the counter at 23:00, without any train tickets. After a long and tiring conversation, I gave up and decided to buy another pair of tickets and there were no sitting tickets for like 1/3 of the journey =(
After which, I also asked what do I do if my earlier payment was not refunded. They asked me to call the police. -___- (Anyway, now that I am back and check my ibanking history, no such deductions were made. Which means that the transaction got cancelled somehow WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE and I wasn’t even informed of it..)
Thankfully we managed to buy the tickets. Otherwise, my whole eastern korea adventure would never happen as that was already the last train out. phew
As seen from the map below, it is a very long journey which involves going down and up again. Last that I read, korail is indeed in the midst of constructing a line which brings you directly from seoul to gangneung, cutting through the mountainous region.
The entire journey by train takes approximately 6 hours, stopping by more than 10 stations.
Well, actually, if you were to take a bus, it is only 3 hours and 30 mins and cost about 4,000W cheaper. The reason why I decided on the train was because we can save one night accommodation and, I kind of enjoy train journeys.
We were (thankfully) in time for the very punctual train. The train was really crowded and we were not the only ones standing. I’m really confused with how they decide on the checking of tickets because we did see people getting theirs checked but not us. It was a tiring 2 hours of standing as we had to stand along the walking path and people just kept weaving in between and I can’t really stand permanently on the right or the left side. Moreover, I was being wifi-less and could only seek in the comfort of candy crush.
I spent quite sometime just staring into space, sneaking glances and observing the people on the train. There were couples, friends in pairs, friends in small groups, friends in big groups, families, Just a random observation, I think Korean cliques are usually of the same gender. So as I stood and stoned, randomness just entered my head and before I knew it, our allocated seats have been emptied for us. I was like staring at the couple who didn’t look like they were going to pack up. AH. Sitting down was such a pleasure.
We went over to the cafe carriage to get some food. True to the earlier video, their cafe carriage has game stations, norae boxes, etc. I decided to buy a hot bar I think for 2,000W and a Gateau cake from Lotte which was so delicious =p My friend bought their sandwich which was quite nice too. FYI, prices are marked up.. but still affordable.
Don’t my bears look so comfortable on their journey?
After eating, it was just short naps with music and just as when I felt like I want to sleep a little longer, we arrived at our destination at about 04:27 sharp.
Approximately half of the people remaining in the train alighted together with us.
Jeongdongjin holds a record for being the nearest railway station to the sea. Thus, many people come to this station to sit down by the beach and wait for sunrise.
This is what the train cafe carriage looks like from the outside.
Timing for sunrise! (1 hour more T_T)
While we were in the train, my friend remembered that in We Got Married, Yonghwa and Seohyun visited this place. They were waiting for sunrise at a cafe but it was raining and they missed the sunrise.
I didn’t watch WGM but okay I went to search for that exact episode.
Seems like they took the same night train as well..
Anyway, to get to the cafe, after entering the station from the tracks, and exiting it, turn right and walk straight. You should be able to see that cafe after about 3 minutes of walking.
Their experience is kind of different because they visited in Spring and it was cold and rainy.. I was so thankful for the non-rainy weather.. but then the extreme hot wave came..
Interior of cafe.
My hot chocolate to warm the chilly dawn!
The sky was brightening up and we forced ourselves not to fall asleep! Otherwise we might miss the sunset~~ It was tough but we succeeded!
Took a couple of photos at the balcony of the cafe before heading out.
I was a little worried as from my experience, it is not for sure that you will see an orange ball rising out from the clouds or the horizon.. After all, the sunset at Anmyeondo didn’t happen too.. the sky just darkened without any glimpse of orange ball.. crossing fingers
By the way, I think this was the only cafe open at that timing of the day.
We walked back to the tracks at the station.
It’s a pretty amazing sight to see the sky lightening up.. From my years of experience. The sun rise timing isn’t a magical number. It is something that takes place very, very, very slowly. Slowly, but surely.
FYI: Most photos for my east coast korea were taken on my iphone5 as i forgot to charge my canon battery prior to the trip =/
Finally, after a 6 hours train journey plus an hour of waiting.. we finally saw the moment.
This orange ball started rising up from somewhere above the horizon, far away into the ocean.
I love the reflection on the sea. Beautiful sunrise.
And it gets higher and higher and brighter and brighter.
After sunrise, the crowd started to clear up..
Finally, I guess after about an hour or less, we finally decided that we had enough of the sunrise and we started walking around to look for accommodation.
Some ajjuma caught my friend’s attention and I guess 40,000W was very reasonable for a room with a sea view. Initially, she thought that we were not staying the night.. then she increased her price to 50,000W and being in half zombie mode, we didn’t really care.
The view from window was terrific! (Yes this was the view)
My friend was attracted to the wallpaper. LOL.
We took a nap for about 1 to 2 hours and of course took a bath before setting off again.
We had lunch at the restaurant at the bottom of our motel.
There was an obvious absence of cabbage kimchi which is something that i really like.
We didn’t know what to order, so we just asked them for their recommendations and we got two soup dishes. I’m not exactly a fan of beansprouts but well I had to eat it anyway.. Mine was some bony fish remnants in my soup.. which was really bony and it kind of annoyed me.. It was 7,000W each. A little steep but we were hungry.
The weather was so hot that we just had to get ice cream. If I’m not wrong, it was 1,500 to 2,000W which was way overpriced =( Then again, we were kind of in a touristy area.
Despite asking for directional help, we couldn’t find the bus stop or we missed the bus and the heat doesn’t solve the problem either. we resulted in taking a cab (approx 4 to 5k which i believe we were overcharged) up to the sun cruise resort and park. It is listed as one of the most unique accommodation by CNN and it has been getting a lot of attention lately. This is one ridiculous project but that’s what makes it really special, with a unique selling point.
We had to pay 5,000W for entrance to the park and hotel premises. It’s quite a good location for photo taking. Totally worth the 5,000W. I don’t understand the reason behind the hands in Korea. Previously there were hands at Pohang as well.
This cruise is built on top of a hill/cliff and it is really steep. Let the photos do the talking.
Do you see the railings at the left side with the glass flooring?
Take a step of courage, and you will find yourself standing beyond the age of the cliff, supported by only steel and glass..
And this is your view when you look down.
The aim of this photo is to show that the cruise is seriously resting off the cliff. They can actually hold a bungee jumping activity at the tip..
This is another view of the railings that we were standing at earlier on. To get down, you have to walk down the stairs from the pavilion as seen at the top right.
There were stairs to go down further but the gate was locked =(
and this was their |random| sculpture park at the other side of the park.
Another drama filming spot? But seems like that place doesn’t exist anymore. It was year 1998 and I believe it had been a train cafe.
View from the other side of the cruise.
Yes we are very high up.. and everything looks so cute from up here.
This is what the jeongdongjin station area looks like. It is within walkable and we did eventually walk back.
What the pool looks like.
And here comes its museum which I took photo of everything in case anyone is interested. It shows the entire building process from the beginning to what it is today.
I will try my best to interpret it based on intuition. My korean knowledge is as good as none.
So back in 1995, they had an idea of building a hotel in the area and as you can see at the top right corner, the hill was empty. For the fact that it was a hill, the plot of land shouldn’t be expensive.
Early construction phases? and the train cafe which had been featured in a drama back in 1998.
View from the deck of the ship.
The lovely mountain contour lines.
You see the revolving thing at the right side? It is a revolving sky lounge where you can have drinks at. This is a very awesome place and we even got 20% discount by showing our tickets! We didn’t realize it was revolving initially as it was moving really really slowly. But once we discovered.. we wanted to stay even longer! If I’m not wrong, a full round takes more than an hour?
View from the panel.
After tea at the sky lounge which we comfortably settled in with the blasting air con, we had to leave too.. to continue exploring the other parts.
Well, we found a stairs which will lead us down directly to the beach we saw at the bottom earlier on and base on my analysis, I believe there was a through route back to our motel back at the station.
It was a long journey up. Probably thrice as difficult if we were climbing it. There was no one there to check on your tickets so technically you can actually walk up (not an easy feat) and enter for free! However. my friend did manage to see a sign which warns people against entering the hotel from this steps. This path was supposedly to only be used by residents of the hotel..
As we were climbing down..
At the bottom!
You see the small ship? It is another cafe which we were too lazy to walk to..
Anyway, if you are wondering.. why didn’t I stay at the sun cruise hotel? It was far too expensive (approx 150 to 200 SGD – peak season pricing) and inconvenient to book. If you own a korean credit card, you can try it out and I think it would be a very lovely place to stay in.
Apparently one of the rumoured reason behind this cruise was that they wanted to create an affordable cruise experience for people who could not afford the real thing. I guess the owner must be really a fan of cruise.
We were making our way towards the sunrise park!
This is a really large sun vial which I can’t seem to see the shadow to tell the time.
This is the hourglass which had been featured in the variety show earlier on.
This hourglass is built here to celebrate a new millennium of peace and coexistence. It is an embodiment of our profound yearning for a better future. and to Apparently each and every grain of sand inside has been painstakingly selected. The sand at the top represents the future, while the sand having fallen to the bottom represents the past. The trickling sand falling at the moment represents the flow of time. The golden circle represent the sun rising from the east sea and the blue coloured glass represents the east sea. The parallel train tracks (where this circle lies on) represents the eternity of time. It recalls the past while conveying our wishes for a better tomorrow.
It was constructed in Nov 1999, just in time for the millennium. If this hourglass is working well, it will reset itself (roll back) on 1st January every year.
This is a time museum in a train which was ticketed and we didn’t go in.
A random lake or canal which shows the reflection of water.
And then we started to walk further and further away from the cruise hotel..
Since we weren’t hungry yet, we decided to go back to our motel and rest a while before heading out for our shellfish dinner! We walked and walked and walked, and found ourselves back to the direction of the sun cruise area.. Finally we decided upon a restaurant which charged us about 40-50,000W for 2 pax. (There’s a reason why I can’t remember the price)
Side dishes with the notable absence of kimchi =( I don’t think people here serve kimchi?
Ahhh! The start of our shellfish dinner <3
It started with the scallops which were so so so so juicy!
Anyway, so I was mentioning that I couldn’t remember how much this dinner cost.. the reason was that.. someone from the next table paid for our bill!!!!!!!
IT WAS SO FREAKING RANDOM. THEY DIDN’T TALK TO US AT ALL, NEITHER DID I EVEN TOOK NOTICE OF THEIR EXISTENCE. The ajuma of the restaurant just came over to us and blabbered korean and I thought she wanted us to pay so I touched my wallet and she was like no no no no no.. and after my friend deciphered what she said.. it turns out to be that someone has paid for our bill!! Apparently my friend saw that the ajuma pointed to 2 ajussi leaving in a car but i didn’t see them. and so.. our most expensive meal for the whole trip was for free D:
I don’t know how often such things happen in Korea and yes we were deeply in shocked because we didn’t even have time to thank the people who paid for us =/ My only conjecture was that both ajussi were fighting to pay for the bill and guy A managed to pay it and guy B felt bad that he didn’t pay so he decided to pay for us?
Well, I remember that I had a free dinner back in 2011 at Andong where we had dinner with a random person we met at the bus stop. Back then, we actually ate with him and treated him ice cream in return but this time round it was like, just free without a reason. weird weird weird. but we were so grateful for it..
We decided to donate one pack of our sparkles to the ajumma’s children who were working diligently at the restaurant. Actually I don’t know if it was a good decision. For them who have probably lived by the beach their whole life, they probably had enough of such things.. hmmfph.
Alas! After dinner was the start of our mini fireworks festival. We had a bunch of leftovers from Anmyeondo which I insisted on bringing. We bought a (hopefully better) lighter from 7-11, found a nice spot at the beach, prayed for a windless moment and off we go! We played both sparkles and fireworks and I’m currently still waiting for my friend’s photos where we attempted making alphabets with sparkles.
Since I was the primary lighter.. I dont have much photos.
Our stash of fireworks finished very quickly once I discovered the method and.. I decided to win more fireworks! (I don’t know why but I have a thing for “winning”)
We took part in a carnival booth, paid 10,000W and threw darts to the balloons.
and yahoo! We walked away with 4 rather high quality roman candles fireworks, instead of a toy.
Here’s a video of the fireworks, simple and short but the feeling is amazing.
THEN, my friend can’t forget woobin & jongsuk’s face on cass poster.. and we went to this karaoke place which had like a lot of his posters hanging around. Well, she managed to get the poster! The uncle was tearing it off carefully from the table. Wow =p
We stayed on for a drink, watching the koreans singing and dancing. I’m really impressed with their courage to stand in front and sing..
It was a good experience and 50% of me was afraid that they were notice that we were foreigners and try to disturb us.. thankfully they left us in peace.
There was this girl which really WOW-ed the audience. She could shake well to every single songs and her dance moves were very daring and she performed really well! Maybe she dreams of becoming a star some day?
Anyway, along the beach, there were random swings that we could just sit on, and stare at the ocean.
Made our way back to the motel, bathed and out were we again, this time for wifi. Earlier in the day, I discovered that there was wifi at the bus stop =/
So, at 1am, we were out on the streets using wifi. This time round, another ajussi (taxi driver) started talking to my friend. I couldn’t communicate due to my poor command of korean. He was there waiting for a customer who called for his services, which eventually didn’t turn up? He also offered his insect repellent when I was complaining about the mozzies. It was quite effective. After about 30 mins, he went to re park his car and reclined his seat to sleep/rest.
By then, we were almost done with our wifi usage and then I was like a little hungry, so we took about 10 steps away to the nearest family mart. Initially, we were contemplating whether to say bye to him but then I was like we shouldn’t wake him up?
I bought a bulgogi burger which was rather delicious and only 1,000W!
Anyway, the funny thing is that when we left family mart approximately 5 to 7 minutes later, ajussi’s taxi/van was gone!! There can be two reasons, (1) the supposedly customer he was waiting for did eventually come approx 45 minutes later and he drove off. (2) He was just hanging around close by to watch on us (safety reasons). Mystery, Mystery but option 2 does sound legit in Korea. People can be exceptionally kind and random (like our free dinner =p)
The following morning, I set an alarm to wake up at sun rise but what I saw from the window seems like yesterday so I took a photo and crawled back to bed and continued sleeping.
We couldn’t really sleep in as we had a train to catch at 10:55.
We bid farewell to the motel ajummas and went in search for brunch.
Friend had a craving for seafood pancake. I decided to try the famous tofu. It was alright, but kind of overpriced for just tofu. heh.
From this picture, it doesn’t look that big but oh gawd in reality it is humongous.
The ingredients were really good! Oysters and squid!! and they don’t have excessive spring onions which I don’t fancy.
After the extremely full brunch (I don’t usually eat so much for breakfast), we made our way back to the station. It’s really pretty now that the sun is fully up in the sky.
Another drama filming location, for beethoven virus which I have yet to watch.
In photos, it does not look that hot but in reality i was dying from heat.
I’ve created a video from my phone which resulted in the poor resolution but you can take a look! It contains some video of what I saw from the sea train.
Yes this sea train is on the top of my list in eastern korea!! The booking process is very simple. The toughest part is the payment. My friend had to go down specially to a korean back to do the cash deposit. But all that hassle was worth it! This train is usually fully booked and we were lucky to get 2 places in the first row.
All the seats are facing one direction and the windows are exceptionally larger compared to other trains.
Inside the train, you are able to SMS (Korean number) and request for songs!!! My friend made a request for SHINee’s Aside and they really played it! Also, there were games going on inside the train as some parts of the journey did not have much scenery e.g. tunnels. The koreans were all very enthusiastic and I can only stare blankly at space due to the language barrier.
The interior of the carriage is decorated with marine animals. A very small but important detail of the train.
We alighted at the final stop of the station, Sam Cheok.
You see the heart shapes? It’s the proposal carriage! It is commonly used for people to do proposal and it cost 50,000W which I think it is rather reasonable for that private space and view.
So, we were greeted by a windless and cloudless Samcheok.
According to the maps, there was supposed to be a bus stop opposite the train station. We did see a sign which could possibly look like a bus stop so we waited and waited but we were unsure of what we were waiting for. I guess after about 20 minutes of that unbearable heat, we decided that we should just give up and take a taxi to the bus terminal area which was supposedly less than a 10 minutes drive away.
Taxi ajussi asked us where we were going and we said we were going to look for accommodation. He said that the motels surrounding the train station were more expensive and drove us to a place slightly further away (I don’t know why he made that assumption that we were willing to walk further T_T)
After random motel-hopping, we finally settled for a possibly sleazy motel. It’s called feel motel. what do you expect? Despite having such a ____ name, the motel owners were like grandparents maybe in their late 60s early 70s.
We didn’t want to commit to a room too early so we wanted to just take a look at the room. She wanted to charge us 60,000W and we were like no it’s too expensive. Then she said, if we would go for the rooms without a theme aka the more family-styled room, it would be 50,000W. She invited us into her reception area (which was their bedroom), to blow air con. I was fanning myself non-stop while standing at the lobby. Seeing them being so hospitable to us, we gave in and just took the 50,000W room. It was simply too hot to roam around further =/
The room was oh-kay. A far cry from the ocean view room we had before. The first thing I did was to blast the air conditioning the moment we entered. That’s one flexible thing I like about these motels. We can usually check in earlier without extra cost, provided there are room availability.
Once we cooled down a little, we decided to set off again.
We walked about 8 minutes to the bus terminal where there will be a tourist information counter. Sadly, we met with their lunch hour. We seek refuge inside the bus terminal (somewhere with shelter, wifi and a convenience shop) and I ate an ice cream to cool down.
After the tourist info counter was open, we went in and the strong air conditioning was such a blessing =p It made me not want to leave. There was another Caucasian girl (teaching english in Jeonju) asking for help too. She needed help in ensuring that her pension at Yonghwa beach was booked.
I wanted to get the tourist info counter to check if there was still availability for Sam Cheok rail biking. This was even harder to book. I tried to seek KTO’s help in the booking but they replied me saying that they were not allowed to assist with bookings and that I should seek help with a korean friend or call them for reservation. None of the solutions were feasible so we had no choice. Well Well, as expected, the rail biking was full and she suggested that I should go for the weekend tour instead. Sadly, it wasn’t feasible as we were leaving tomorrow morning.
Well, there aren’t much attractions to visit in Sam Cheok and the attractions are not near anything at all. So we could only decide upon going the Haesingdang Park aka Penis Park or The Caves. The staff told us that there are no public transportation between the two places and taxi was gonna be expensive.
Then, she showed us the bus schedule and timings. There was only one bus per hour. (Seriously how do the locals survive with such infrequent bus schedules..)
If I’m not wrong, we took the 14:00 bus and 1,600W was pretty steep.. We had to pay the amount in cash as they do not accept t-money card. The journey on the bus was bumpy and dizzy and fast and furious =/ Luckily, the bus driver saw that we were indeed foreigners, reminded us when we reached our stop. We didn’t even tell him anything. I guess he assumes that most tourists were going to Haesingdang park.
We got down the bus and GAWD THE SUN WAS SCORCHING.
I’m sorry if that me complaining about the heat annoys you.. I guess it’s been a long while since I had such long exposure with the sun. Heh.
The beautiful scenery cooled away half of my annoyance.
Alas! I was finally the second most ridiculous place of my trip. A park full of phallic sculptures.
Legend is said that there was a virgin who drowned in the sea and the fishermen harvest became very poor. Then one day, a fishermen peed into the sea and suddenly all the fishes came back.
So from then on, the started to erect these sculptures, hoping to please the virgin. Even today, religious festivals are still held to commemorate this legend.
I suddenly recalled a conversation I had with my friend.. Wouldn’t it be awkward if you’re visiting this place as a couple o.0
By the way, there are two entrance for this park. One at the top and the other from the bottom. We entered from the top and we will be walking down to the buildings below (Yes it is quite big)
As seen from photos, it is rather empty.. I bet it was more than 35 degrees that day. Even the wind blows hot air.
Please don’t get offended with the photos.. I’m trying to just show everyone what’s there..
Finally, we reached a building with air-conditioning…
And then there was this whole exhibition on how sexual worship had been prehistorically recorded by people from the ancient world. Not just in Korea, but the whole world. (Photos censored)
So this is what divers looked like in the past.
From the building, we took a lift down to the coast.
How I wished I’ve wore slippers that day. Would be lovely to just wade inside.
There was a temple where you can give prayers to the virgin.
This is what you have to climb if you entered the park from the bottom.
So when we decide to leave, we realised that we have just missed the once per hour bus and we settle down somewhere for lunch. It was fresh fish but I didn’t know what I ate.
Ajumma recommended this for the terrible weather and it wasn’t cheap! If I’m not wrong it was 15,000W but it was okay because there was so much fish.
I wanted to walk all the way to the red lighthouse but it was too hot and time was running out, to catch the bus or risk waiting another hour.
The bus stop was quite far away, far from the supposed 5 minutes walk as mentioned by one of the locals =( We almost couldn’t made it in time and we were running out to nowhere. Thankfully, the bus was late and we managed to board it.
Off we went, to Yonghwa Beach, as recommended by the Caucasian lady earlier on. She said that Yonghwa’s beach is the most beautiful beach she has ever been to.
Yonghwa was also one of the start/end point for the ocean rail bike which we could have gone for.
It is a crescent-shaped beach.
Couldn’t resist the temptation of not entering. I bought a severely overpriced slippers for 5,000W and paid 500W for a plastic bag -_- and off we went, into the sand and the sea.
The waves are very light and tapping softly against the sand.
Big and ugly foot prints =(
And we watched the sun set, from the mountains, not the horizon, as this is the eastern coast.
Well, half the people in the water were looking for dinner. There were boys with snorkeling gear and life jacket looking for clams/shell fishes. There were uncles diving in and out in search for food. We, couldn’t sink fully in as we had no change of clothes =(
Along the coast, there were BBQ pits setting up in preparation for dinner.
The water is so clear, even up to knee depth.
And the skyline only gets prettier.
We couldn’t stay for too long, we had a bus to catch. This is what a bus stop looks like.
The bus was running, very, extremely late and our bus stop was just filled with people, all questioning the arrival of the bus.. We waited from bright skies to dark and by the time we reached SamCheok city, it was totally dark =/
I didn’t know why happened but we took forever to decide dinner that night. I ate my first and only Baskin Robbins for this trip.
And we took away mr pizza, which was formally endorsed by 2pm.
Can’t remember what happened that night but I know I was gibberish and fell asleep very early. Dead tired from the extreme heat
The next morning, we woke up bright and early, wanting to get out of this place in the quickest time possible and of course return back to Seoul. We were done with this town with a could be improved public transport system =(
Not forgetting my favourite bulgogi burger for breakfast!
We were early right? We took the premium bus (3 seats per row)
With 3 to 4 hours bus journey, I finally concluded by 3D3N adventure to the east coast. There were many other places and towns I could have visited but there wasn’t enough time.
Initially, I wanted to cover Ulleungdo but that trip alone needed 3D2N and my itinerary was already packed to its brim =(
The conclusion: East Coast Korea isn’t really ready to receive non-korean speaking foreigners yet. I guess their initiative (for now) is more of just attracting local koreans to travel to places within korea. The english signs are still very limited and public transport to tourist attractions still remains infrequent and still need a lot of improvements. Likewise, booking via international credit card for most places is still not available and this will be a significant problem especially if you’re traveling in summer. I guess most most most koreans drive anway. However, if you are adventurous and have a bucket list to strike off, these difficulties shouldn’t deter you!
Eastern Korea really have very beautiful beaches and sand and people. The pace of life is definitely much more relaxing and slow and sometimes the inefficiency helps in training your patience.
Step out of your comfort zone, sometimes it’s good to go on an uncertain and semi-anyhow whack trip. Planning too much isn’t always the best plan.
You can follow my footsteps, but of course not everything (That’s why my footsteps are blurred)! You need to allow some flexibility and freedom for the wrong things that will happen in your trip and these moments will make your trip more memorable ?
Do check out my other entries in the series as well:
*All text, images, and links are from FlyHoneyStars.com
*All "WingShark's Note" are from HelloWings Journey, aims to provide readers more current information and tips assisting in FlyHoneyStars' travel itinerary.
According to the guidebook, Chungcheong region, encompassing West Coast Korea is the least visited place by foreigners. True to the book, we found ourselves stranded in an island called Anmyeondo.
As my friend and I are quite nonsensical when it comes to finding weird and random places, she stumbled upon a korean blog which had photos of the actual filming taking place.
The drama is called 아름다운 그대에게 (To the beautiful you) which is originated from a manga. There was a Taiwanese version of it, filmed back in 2005/2006 where Wu Zhun and Ella and Jiro were the main leads. I kind of like that drama despite its over-exaggerated story line of a girl disguising herself and enrolled into a boys school, to see her high jump idol. They ended up in the same dormitory, falling in love and blah blah blah.
Alright, so the point is that my friend found the filming place of the pension they visited in the show. I did a video cut from the relevant parts of the show which is somewhat relevant to the place I visited.
The reason why I’m doing this is that I don’t want this nice and peaceful place to be flooded with foreigners. While we were there, we were the only foreigners around and I guess koreans would like to keep it this way. This is why the whole booking process is extremely troublesome, all in hangul and full bank deposit is to a korean bank account is necessary to confirm your booking. To add on, this place is inaccessible via public transport. We had to take a taxi in. Then again, if you do a google search in korean, it isn’t hard to find this place =p The western coast of Korea has large areas of foreshores (area between the average high tide and low tide). This allows for visitors to wade through the wet sand, identifying marine life and also taking part in the famous clam digging. As it is along the western coast, if you’re lucky, you can catch a beautiful and romantic sunset. My experience: The day of our adventure didn’t start off well as we were unable to catch an early bus out to Taean or Anmyeondo from both Express Bus and Nambu Terminal. The earlier buses were all full (Koreans are able to book their bus tickets online) due to the summer season. This was something which has never happen to me before. Usually when I go to a bus terminal, I am able to get a ticket for the earliest bus timing. After a long hassle, we finally bought an 11:50am ticket. The journey will take 3 hr 20 mins and we will barely have 18 hours on that island. Oh wells, we have already paid for our pension in full and not going wasn’t a choice.
The bus ride was rather scenic as it brings you to the less populated area of korea.
You see the bridge in the photo below? I wanted to visit it but there wasn’t enough time =(
I think 3D2N here would be the best but it’s kind of expensive and difficult to travel without a car.
Bus Timings at Anmyeondo. Really infrequent and very few cities.. Shows how isolated this place is..
Upon reaching the bus terminal, we walked to the nearby supermarket to get our supplies for the night!
Not forgetting, the fireworks which I have been wanting to try my whole life =p
After grabbing a bit of snacks, we were off in a taxi to our pension and oh gawd it was extremely expensive and they did not allow us to share a cab for 5 people. This means that we had to split 3/2 for taxi.. It was like 17,000W. Can you believe it? I have never paid so much even in Seoul.. We reached our pension after a drive of approximately 20 mins (Yes it is that secluded!).
Throughout the journey, there were roads that only cater to one lane. Meaning that only one car can drive through (either directions). There were a couple of times where a lot of reversing done in order to make way for the vehicle. It was a very bumpy ride. Going through farms, pine tree forests, salt plantations etc. Grey Skies =( Nevertheless it was a very pretty pension (Directly behind the drama pension which we originally wanted to stay in)
Pensions spare no effort in theme-ing.
This was the view at the corridor of our room. Looks like potential land for be to build my own pension..
Going inside our “Ann” room.. (Taken by Panorama Camera of iPhone5)
Upstairs: Even though there’s only one bed, they also provide mattress for you to lay on the floor.
View from our balcony: Do you see that familiar looking building?
Zooming in on the “wings”
Going outside: A very cute letterbox.
Exploring the drama pension.. Everything looks the same except for the name. In the show it was called “Paradise”
Finally, we mustered enough courage to ask the pension owners if we are able to take photographs inside. Being the innocent foreigners who traveled so far, of course she agreed to our request =P my only pity is that we weren’t early enough.
My plan was to asked if we could enter the actual room that they filmed in. This plan could only succeed if we asked at the timing between check out and the next check in.. But we were too late =( The actual drama didn’t have these printed words.. I guess since they painted these words.. they must be quite open to having fans stream in and out of this place to take photos.. I think..
Yes this is the palm print left behind by suli.
According to dated daum maps, these paintings didn’t exist in the past. so most probably it was painted just for the drama.
The owners own two very lovely dogs.
Exploring the beach: This is what foreshore is about. endless flat sand.
This is what exploring marine life is about.
Because the sand is so flat.. it is in the best condition for this:
I don’t have much photos of us playing in the sea because yea we were playing and no one wanted to drown their cameras or hand phones. It was really lovely. The pension provided us with the floats and the life jackets. They force one of my friend to wear the hello kitty life jacket for kids =p
The water was really cooling and we had a lot of fun just hovering in the water with the floats. Didn’t dare to venture further as it was going to be high tide and there were countless announcements in Korean which I didn’t understand.. Oh wells, it was fun while it lasted. What a waste though, we could have played longer there. If only we got on the earlier bus…
So after the final final final warning was made, we unwillingly left the sea and strolled back to the pension. Next up was MEAT DINNER TIME!!
While me and my friend explored the pension, the other 3 went grocery shopping with the pension owner. He brought them to some supermarket to buy meat. They came back with like 60,000W worth of meat and half a watermelon (9,900W – the most expensive watermelon my whole life).
In this picture, it doesn’t seem like a lot of meat but once we started eating.. the meat suddenly felt like a never ending buffet.. and yes I bought that potato chip.. with the face..
The BBQ set up is different from Singapore. Instead of Chacoal, He used some rocks that burn really well.
Pension owner was really nice. We were totally clueless but he just guided us through the steps..
Even the grill was provided! (I think..)
Let the feast begin (I know you will start to feel hungry)
He told us that the meat has to be lined around the fire such that there isn’t like direct heat on it. The garlics have to be placed on top of the meat so that the flavour can get in.
After all the arrangement is done, we put on the lid and wait for 5 mins., By putting on the lid, we can ensure that the heat is evenly spread.
After 5 mins, you open it up and flip the meat and I think sprinkle some pepper on it.
After that is done, you open up the lid and start cutting the pieces..
Have you ever seen so much meat on a grill before?!!!
There were lettuce and chilli sauce to complete the experience!
I was tasked to eat this chilli which was plucked from their garden and it was so spicy that I gave up after one bite.. apparently it wasn’t supposed to be so spicy but mine was just, extremely spicy.
After dinner, we decided to play with the fireworks that we have bought earlier.
Either the wind was too strong or the lighter was pathetic. We took fire to light something up but when it did light up, it was simple yet amazing. It was my first time setting my own fireworks and it’s awesome =) Didn’t manage to get good photos of them on my camera.
Will update with photos once my friend has uploaded hers.
View from the balcony the next morning. It must be really lovely to wake up in the morning to the sea =)
I love playing with panorama camera =) You know of all the buildings that you see, I’ve checked through most of the pensions..
This is the owner’s cute dog.. who barks whenever someone/thing hits a girl. TRIALED AND TESTED.
The pension owner was very nice and sent us to the bus terminal, just in time for us to catch our bus. The scenery along the way was so beautiful that I wished I had a bicycle and a go pro on my head..
Times like this always make me pause in life and wonder if I am able to just give up everything I have now and move to the countryside to do simple, really simple jobs and be happy..
Thanks to the speeding pension owner, we managed to meet the bus terminal right on the dot and of course, bought our tickets and boarded the bus.
We bought our tickets to go to Suwon where we were supposed to head over to Jebudo, another unique island of the west of Korea.
=( =( =( =( =( Despite planning for this trip to Jebudo for the longest time ever (Since last November), we dropped the idea.
We reached Suwon Bus Terminal, deposited our luggage in the locker and took the bus to the train station. When we alighted, I was unwelcomed with grey skies which threatened to pour any moment. It was a tough decision, it really was and I agreed to put off the plan to Jebudo T_T
Even though I didn’t make it there, I would like to share with you the awesome-ness of this island that I want to visit.
You are able to visit the “parting of sea” if you visit Jebudo. It is this really unique island that can only be accessed when the tide is low. The 2.3-kilometer stretch of water between Jebudo Island and Songgyo-ri, Seosin-myeon, parts twice a day during the low tide, and is where the sea parts most frequently in Korea. The exposed foreshore, which remains accessible for six hours until it is submerged by the tide, appears at a different time each day. Just roughly 20 years ago, the people of Jebudo Island would wade across the route, often getting soaked up to their waist, to reach the mainland. However, after cement pavement was installed in the late 1980’s, the route became quickly and easily accessible by car. Though Jebu Island is small there are some notable sights to see, like the Maebawi (falcon rock) that serves as roost for local falcons, and a 2.5 km beach that is dotted with clamshells. (Cr: http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=823350)
Well Well Well, my plan was to visit the lighthouse and to dig for clams!!
and.. near Jebudo, there’s a lot of interesting pensions! The one that I badly badly wanted to visit was the HH Santorini pension. I don’t think I’ll make it to Greece anytime soon and this was going to be my consolation but I didn’t manage to visit it =(
Besides, there was a smurfy mushroom house too.. and if we were to explore daebudo (the larger island) there will be even more unique and cute pensions!!!
Since I didn’t manage to visit this place, I still have a reason to return to Korea..
No photos for this place since I didn’t manage to visit it.
Despite the huge disappointment, we comforted ourselves with seafood.
Some people think that it is rather sick.. but yea we ate Octopus.. live..
I can’t really describe how it taste like but the truth is that it is nothing fantastic and I’m glad to say that I’ve eaten eat before and whether I’ll eat it again.. I will think twice.. I still prefer the eel I ate in busan two years back.
and that marks the end of our adventure for west coast Korea =)
If you have any questions, direct them to email@example.com or leave a comment.
I would be glad to hear from you =)
Do check out my other entries in the series as well:
*All text, images, and links are from FlyHoneyStars.com
*All "WingShark's Note" are from HelloWings Journey, aims to provide readers more current information and tips assisting in FlyHoneyStars' travel itinerary.
I visited Disneysea on a 100% forecast rainy day; thinking that the rainwater would make the Disneysea experience more authentic. yea right. Well, the truth was that we couldn’t change any of the planned itinerary; but on a hindsight, every cloud has a silver lining!
Never did I expect that I will be visiting Japan again this year, 3 months after my previous trip to Osaka.
Before I start, I would like to share my awesome all-time-low exchange rate (100Y = 1.088 SGD) changed in end June 2015. As I type, the exchange rate is surging back up to 1.15 range due to the crisis in Greece.
Well, this trip has been pretty different from all my other trips free&easy trip to date as I was more flexible on the budget whereby we did not choose the cheapest option, especially for accommodation.
The budget of SGD $3,000 was set for this trip (actual figure: $3,315) – with $941 being set aside for my air tickets. Another $1,136 was for 7 nights accommodation and 7 day car rental where my friend chose all the accommodation which turned out to be an average of $126/night per person. For the second time ever, (with the first being at Sofitel Krabi last year), I stayed in a 5 star hotel with L’occitane toiletries.
Visiting Lake Akan was the second most disappointing thing that happened to us this entire trip (50% due to rain and 50% due to the marimo exhibits).
After our visit at the [Kushiro Crane Reserve], we drove about 1 hour 20 mins from Kushiro to Lake Akan. The weather wasn’t on our side that day as it was raining throughout the entire drive. Furthermore, we were rushing to be in time for the hourly Lake Akan cruise which would bring us to see the Marimo (green moss balls).
We literally ran to the counter to purchase the tickets (1,900Y) for the cruise ride. Any second later, we would have missed the 15:00 ferry and not have enough time to wait one more hour for the next cruise.
The cruise had a capacity of about 100 to 150 but there were barely 30 people during our session. I guess the rainy weather probably turned away a lot of people.
According to the plan, we were supposed to visit Lake Abashiri and Sounkyo (Daisetsuzan National Park) before arriving at our hotel in Asahidake.
After our disappointing Lake Akan experience, we decided to give Lake Abashiri a miss too as the weather wasn’t looking too good either. We headed straight to Sounkyo despite the rain but it wad bad too.