|Ilsan beach and Ulsan port|
Monday, August 6, 2012
Despite the fact that i'm soon leaving for Taiwan I was really feeling the travel bug last weekend and therefore was adamant on getting out of town. I messaged my friend Grace who lives in Ulsan and figured this would be the perfect destination, beachside town promising a cooler breeze than the armpit of Korea that I live in. Grace was happy to have me come visit but said she had plans that night/the next day so I wouldn't be able to stay over. My friend Sojung said he'd come along but also couldn't stay over because he had a lot of work to get done. Wanting a break from our home towns we decided to make a day trip out of it.
After a quick Vietnamese lunch we found the bus that would take us out to the coast (thanks to my pre-planning). The ride was close to an hour long but the time went quickly as we all shared our classroom horror stories and plans for the future. We kind of missed the stop thinking that the one after the beach would be more convenient - oops, oh well, only caused us to walk a bit farther. It was hot, but compared to the humidity in Daegu this was nothing, there was a nice breeze and enough shade along the way. The park was gorgeous and definitely worth the walk; it started with a pine forest with pathways leading you to the sea. Right before the sea there is a lighthouse and then the path opens up and you see the rock formations and small rock island in the distance.
As I stood on the bridge enjoying the sea breeze and sunshine I was thankful I had made the decision to travel to Ulsan that day. The sights were breathtaking, the weather was much nicer than Daegu and my company was enjoyable. We spent quite a bit of time enjoying the view and breeze before making our way back into the park, this time winding along the sea path. There was a 'dragon head' cave on the way back, not really sure why it was called that and it was a bit unimpressive but still worth a picture.
I left my apartment around 8:30 to catch a bus to the Gumi bus terminal, thankfully I decided to wait in line for my bus that was scheduled to leave at 9:20 because (per usual in Korea) the bus was full leaving a few people to stand. I've stood on many a bus in this country, but not at 10am on a Saturday morning for a 2 hour journey, no.thank.you. Before long I arrived at the Ulsan bus terminal where I almost missed Grace standing right in front of me as my mind was on the bathroom. Since Sojung lives in Waegwon he took the train which worked out perfectly as he arrived about the same time and made his way to the bus terminal to meet us.
When we finally made it back to the entrance to the park we were all ready for a cool drink and (for Grace) something to eat. A short walk to the beach and we stopped at the first coffee shop to refuel before taking a stroll along the beach. As I was sweating through the park I regretted not bringing my bathing suit, but as I approached the beach those thoughts diminished. I sometimes forget i'm in Korea where it's scandalous to show your shoulders in public, so you ask, what do they do at the beach? Why they go in fully clothed of course! I think we saw two swimming suits all day and those were on toddlers, the rest of the beach goers were in everyday clothes, I think I even saw a few in Jeans. Silly Koreans. We settled for a walk along the edge of the water, I wasn't really in the mood for soaking wet Jean shorts. Toward the end of the beach there was a fish market where we stopped so we could use the bathroom. I wanted to wash my feet off before putting my shoes back on so I took a step down the cement stairs. As my foot touched the last stair I though "this is going to be slippery" and it's too bad my thoughts didn't tell me feet that sooner because before long I was sitting in the sea - so much for no wet jean shorts.
The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent in what felt like a wet diaper as we made our way back to town, grabbed dinner and headed for the river. Grace had to catch a bus home so she left us around 8pm but Sojung and I were determined to find the Taehwa river park which promised an impressive bamboo grove. We finally arrived (about an hour later) and the bamboo was a bit disapointing but the park itself was peaceful and showed off great views of the city. After some time relaxing we made our way (this time by taxi) to the train station and were soon headed home. 2 trains, a taxi and three hours later and I was back to my house - first thing on my mind was to get out of the wet shorts and take a cool shower, but shortly after that it was bed time.