South Korea

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    • Day 12

      On the Road Again. Heading South

      September 11, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

      We have chosen the rainiest day we have had so far to leave Sokcho and start heading south, but we don't have far to go. I was aware there is a national holiday around this time, what I wasn't sure of was which days to travel and which to stay off the roads but I think I have it sorted. Basically Chuseok, which is a likened to Thanksgiving, is a time when Koreans return to their families. Tomorrow is likely to be the day when most people will be traveling so I have organised it so that we won't be. We will travel a little way down the coast and spend 2 nights then travel a bit further down right in the middle of the four day break when hopefully no-one will be on the roads.

      The road follows the coast most of the way and we pull in to take a look at one of the beaches. We walk along the promenade towards the lighthouse in light drizzle. Barely ten minutes or so south of Sokcho is a temple site I have earmarked. I am expecting to see a small temple, a pavilion and a buddha. We walk up the hill from the carpark through Korean red pine forest in the steady light rain to the entrance gate. At this point we begin to get a sense of the size of the site. A gravel path leads up a slight incline towards a hilltop compound where among other pavillions and structures the bell pavillion sits. Beautifully ornate it houses a huge drum and two large bells which are roped off from public access.

      At this point a slight detour leads to a small memorial to forest fires that decimated many of the original structures (most have been rebuilt) including three mounds built solely from the roof tiles.

      Continuing along the path leads to the large standing Buddha. Here there is a smaller bell that for a small donation you can ring. Descending beneath the lip of the hilltop there is a submerged temple where when kneeling you can look up at a 45 degree angle through a glass ceiling to see the full figure of the Buddha above.

      We are now making our way down towards the cliff edge but first the pavillion housing six seated golden Buddhas, three either side of the centre-piece, a radiant, standing, multi-limbed being. There seems to be almost a hint of Hinduism about this temple from the swastika on the outside of the building to the carved stone plinths surrounding the outside with elephants at the base. None of these symbols seem very Korean to me but what would I know. A few more pavillions and a lotus pond later and we reach the small pavillion on the cliff edge. An absolutely stunning site, I'm glad we made the effort to visit.

      We are on the look-out for somewhere to have lunch when I ask Richard to count up how much cash we have left. Not enough for lunch, we search for an ATM. Find one, doesn't work. Find another, doesn't work. Ask someone who says we need a bigger town. ! Huh?

      Ok, we are headed for Gangneung so we will try there, otherwise we are going to be living off the credit card. We find a group of shops with American brands and ask. No ATMs around here. A helpful customer with a few words of English sends us 10km further on and instructs us to look for an E-mart. We spot an ATM booth on the same block as an E-mart. The ATM again does not work. The E-mart has no ATM. I go into the bank branch attached to the ATM and the young woman sends me across the road to another convenience store. Success! Thank god! We can eat, yay!

      We decide to find the hotel and check in first. We are located in a beachside area with a bunch of small hotels in a strip much like any Aussie coastal resort town. Down the road there are a bunch of eateries and we find one doing the similar noodle dishes that we had a couple of days ago, this time the seafood one is all in the shell, mussels, clams and octopus. So delicious.
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    • Day 13

      Beach and Bikes

      September 12, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

      The hotel we are in is simple but basic. Breakfast is included but consists of bread and a toaster, cold hard-boiled eggs and strawberry jam. No butter. With that you can have orange juice and filter coffee, no sugar. It will do.

      We then head off for a walk along the beach towards the massive twin tower hotel we have seen from a distance. The entire length of the beach is edged with a boardwalk which makes walking very comfortable and pleasant. As we get nearer to the main section of beachfront we see eight women spread across the width of the sand walking north with a long pair of tongs and a large plastic bag, picking up rubbish as they go. The beach is pleasant, there are a number of the photo spots seen every in Korea, frames against a backdrop of some sort. Two of these appear to feature what we guess are local celebrities, perhaps TV soap opera actors, to have your pic taken alongside.

      We venture inside the Sky Bay hotel for a sticky and head on up to the top floor where there is an infinity pool alongside a bar and restaurant. After sitting for a while no-one comes to take a coffee order so we leave. Across the road is a large lake and alongside is a huddle of bike hire shops offering everything from the canopied four-seater family option through to scooters, regular bikes and electric assisted models. We find a place to have coffee attached to one of these and while happily relaxing with our cuppas talk to the lady about rental rates. We decide to return later in the day. First off lunch and siesta.

      We find a great place for lunch just around the corner from where we had dinner last night. We choose the pork bulgogi stew and with the accompnaying rice and side dishes find that one meal shared is plenty.

      At the arranged time we front up at the bike hire place and collect two electric-assisted bikes. The lake circuit is really lovely. There are sculptures along the way at some places, bird-watching hides at others and a huge lotus pond with a series of boardwalks meandering through the middle. All bar a few of the flowers are finished leaving the large seed pods in their place.

      For dinner tonight we find one of the famous but elusive chicken and beer haunts I have heard so much about. It was nice, it was too much and now that we have had it we probably don't need to have it again.
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    • Day 66

      Gangneung pt 1

      February 1, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ 🌙 -3 °C

      Ik stop met werken een weekje voor mijn vlucht naar huis, en ga op aanraden van Jinny naar de oostkust van Korea voor een paar nachten.

      Gangneung is de grootste stad aan de oostkust, en ik verblijf vlak (maar ook écht) aan het strand 😎

      Een selectie..
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Sagŭnjin, Sagunjin, 사근진

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