Monday, May 28, 2007


My latest weekend trip was to DeokJeok Island. It's a little further west (the pin in the bottom left corner), but it's still a manageable one hour away on the fast ferry. The slower car ferry, which we returned on, takes almost three hours. Unfortunately, Google Earth doesn't have a very clear picture of the island, so I'm just posting the larger overview.

The island itself it pretty small. We biked around it on Saturday, and it was about 15 km. But it is the hilliest place I've been to yet. The ride from the ferry terminal to the beach involved several climbs, including one up to 80 meters. The trip around the rest of the island had several larger hills as well, with a top elevation of just over 150 meters (approx. 500 feet). But the beach itself was quite nice. Almost 2 km long, with lots of flat sand to camp on.

In addition to my normal biking / traveling partner, we were joined by a large contingency of other westerners, who were making their semi-annual pilgrimage to the island. It was nice to have some company, and we had a veritable tent city going on. This is just one section of the camping area. We're finally starting to learn how to camp properly in Korea. This time I brought a portable stove. Next time, we'll have to remember to bring the hot dogs and condiments as these little islands don't have a lot of food to choose from.

A little bonus on the ferry ride was passing under the new bridge being constructed from Song-do to the airport island. We went right between the pylons that are going to hold up the section of the road that allows sea traffic into Incheon Harbor. It was a little hazy on the way back, so it's hard to see just how far the pylons stretch in both directions.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


With beaches of shallower depth and, smooth slope shapes and, beautiful White sand, Buk do beaches provide, Safest and joyful stay for Family [sic] - Ongjin County tourist information

Map key:
Red line = Saturday bike route
Orange line = Sunday bike route
Blue line = Saturday ferry rides
Purple line = Sunday ferry rides

Saturday distance: approximately 60 km
Sunday distance: approximately 40 km

It was another nice weekend, so we decided to check out some more of the local islands. This time, we headed up to Bukdo-myeon, which is a set of four islands just north of the airport island. After meeting my friend at Incheon station, we made the short ride over to Wolmi-do. From there, ferries run every 20 minutes to the airport island. The ride down the south coast of the airport island is nice and flat, with lots of room on the shoulder. Although there was a strong head wind pushing against us. On the southwest coast, there is a small bridge that connects to a small island and from there you can take a ferry to Mui-do. But that is another trip. We headed back to the main road and wound through the hills north. Turning west, we once again were on flat, man made land, this time with the wind at our backs. About halfway back across the island there is the next ferry departure point, Mokko.

From Mokko, there are hourly ferries to Sin-do. When we arrived in Sin-do, the people seemed very friendly. One guy greeted us in English and asked if we were looking for some hiking trails. The little old lady selling potatoes and corn on the top of the boat ramp asked us a few questions in Korean. Although answering where I'm from is about the extent of my linguistic abilities. Sin-do is a pretty small island that took us about half an hour to bike around. Sin-do is then connected to Si-do by bridge. It too is a small island that just took us about 10 minutes to cross. Finally, the third island of Mo-do is also connected by bridge.

On Mo-do, there is one of the more interesting attractions I've seen in Korea. There is a surrealistic sculpture garden on the beach. A lot of the works were inspired by Dali and other artists, but it is quite an unusual site here in Korea. Along with the sculpture garden, there is a nice looking pension you can spend the night it, a cafe, and an old fishing vessel on the beach.

This sculpture, for example, was obviously based on a Magritte painting.

From there, we backed tracked to Si-do and started looking for a beach to camp out at. We found a nice, and for the most part unoccupied, beach on the north side of the island. There was one neighbor - the house from the TV show Full House. Of course, not the American TV show, but the Korean TV show. It's a very un-Korean looking structure, with big windows and a large beach at its disposable. Apparently, you can rent the house out, as there was a group of Koreans staying there and having a little party on the beach. Other than that, there wasn't much there. Just a small convenience store that closed at 6 pm. After finding the beach, we headed back into town for dinner, collected some supplies, and went back to the beach. We set up our tents, watched the stars, drank some beer, listened to planes passing overhead, and watched the Koreans set off there obligatory roman candles and bottle rockets. We could also see a much more impressive fireworks display across the sea on Ganghwa-do.

Early to bed on Saturday night, we were up and ready to go early Sunday morning. After getting our gear packed up, we headed back to the ferry terminal on Sin-do. From there, we hopped a ferry to the fourth island in the group, Jangbong-do. This island is a little longer than the others, with a nice sized hill in the middle to cross. After getting over the hill, we stopped in the town for some lunch. It was a nice little Korean town, with just a couple of convenience stores and a few restaurants. No big apartment buildings, just small houses intermixed with vegetable gardens. Every half hour there was a small wave of traffic representing the ferry haul. Other than that, it was quiet and peaceful. After exploring a little more of the island, we headed back over the hill and to the ferry. On the way back, we saw a couple of kids going up and down the road on their little 4-wheeler. While we were crossing over the hill, they brought each of us a can of Gatorade. When we got to the ferry terminal, we had a good laugh when we saw this old Korean guy we'd met on the way over and talked to briefly. He knew a little Konglish, so we were actually able to have a little bit of conversation.

The ferry then took us back to the airport island, where we took the short route across the middle of the island. It was a pretty basic ride, so I tried to lead us across some back roads that ended up looping back to the road we just left. So instead of returning all the way back to that road, we ended up taking a short cut across some fields to the southern road. It's not very easy crossing over field embankments between flooded prawn farms and rice fields, much less with a bike, but we somehow managed to do it. Once we got back on the main road, it was smooth sailing. The wind was at our backs and I'm starting to get back up to speed. The ferry terminal was a lot more crowded this time, since many people go to school or work on Saturdays. Back at Wolmi-do, the crowds were even larger. Too tired to stay and enjoy the scene, we headed back to the subway station, bound for home. Outside of having to carry my bike down 10 flights of stairs at the transfer, and back up 4 more flights when I got to my station, the ride home was a piece of cake.

Overall, I'd say the people we met in Bukdo-myeon were some of the friendliest people I've met in Korea. A lot of people asked where we were from, and everyone was super helpful. I'd definitely put it on my list of places to return to.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Points of Interest

I've successfully avoided completing the work I need to do for school. So I'm able to provide this follow up of interesting spots I like to visit. The furthest away, the Sihwa Seawall, is just under 20 km away. The closest, Sorae, is about 8 km away. Starting off, here is the map of the area.

Sihwa Seawall

The Sihwa Seaway is an 11 km long causeway that separates Lake Sihwa from the sea and will be home to the largest tidal power generator in the world. There's a nice little park at the north end of the seaway (seen in the foreground). And the seaway itself is more than just a seaway. It's almost like the Chicago lake front. Fishermen cast their reels from the rocks, a running and biking path extends along the entire causeway. Vendors have tents set up hawking food and drinks, renting bikes and roller blades, and providing a full range of fishing gear. There's also a kite flying group that hangs out near the middle of the causeway, taking advantage of the winds that whip across the area. It's an all around family fun destination.

When I went there today, the tide was way out there. Which gives people an opportunity to slog through the muddy sea bed and dig for clams.


Right around the corner from the causeway is Oido, or Cucumber Island. It's a small fishing town with a long stretch of seafood restaurants. But as much as I like seafood, I'm not sure whether or not I'm ready to indulge in Korean seafood. One of their favorite ingredients seems to be octopus, either still alive and kicking, or recently subjugated in the frying pan. Other dishes are doused in red pepper sauce, or combined with some weird vegetable in an unappealing manner. They do have king crab listed on the outdoor menus, and it looks relatively unadultured. But everyone uses the same stock photos, so I'm not sure how they actually prepare it. One of these days I'll be adventurous enough to try it.

Okgu Park

Close to Oido is another little gem of a place, Okgu Park. There's a small mountain to hike up, some nice gardens to stroll around, and excellent sports facilities. There are a number of small gazebos dotted around the park, providing some nice resting and picnic spots.

I'm not sure what's more interesting. The massive field of goldenrods (about 20 m by 1 km), or the crab statue located in the middle of the field.


Next, there is Sorae. I've posted about Sorae before, but I just love the character that oozes out of this place. Fishing boats are pulled up right alongside the market. You can see them unloading their catch, or moving their nets to the boat or back to the dock. Meanwhile, crates of fish and other ocean animals are being transported across the walk straight into the market. People crowd the sidewalks, buying the fresh seafood, and immediately making a meal of it just outside the market. There are also more traditional seafood restaurants on the other side of the market.

Just make sure you check the tide schedule. A lot of the character oozes out with the sea water.


Wolgot is quite close to Sorae, and until today, I hadn't actually been through there. It's a lot more subdued, but still an interesting area. There's smaller stretch of seafood places than at the other places, and the crowds aren't quite as pressing.

It too is gravely affected by the tides. At low tide, the boats are laying on mud. In fact, the entire port area becomes a giant mud flat.

At high tide, the boats are happily floating, packed two and three deep around the pier.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


I've got a lot of work to do this week, and I didn't take many photos on the trip. But here is our route to Yeongheung Island (including our side trip to Ansan):

Distance via Ansan: 66 km
Distance w/o detour: 50 km

The beach where we camped out:

If the weather holds out, I'll be going back this week to take some photos of a few interesting spots that are along the way.