To Market, To MarketSeptember 10 in South Korea ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C
It's raining today but that's no reason not to get out. We decide to check out the markets. Sokcho Tourist and Fish Markets occupies a large city block with a number of criss-crossing laneways. On the ground floor is mainly food and some household goods, while on the first floor there are a number of clothing outlets and tailors, and on the lower ground floor is a large eatery section, mainly sashimi.
We spend some time just wandering around inquisitively, I buy some thongs and Richard some shorts. There are many tantalising food options on offer but we're not hungry yet.
We exit on the far side of the markets and head towards the port. Here there is a small hand-operated punt that transports people across to Abai Village. Hand-operated means if you want to get there quicker you pitch in and help. There are extra large hooks with handles available for passengers to use; basically the hook grabs the cable along the floor and you walk the length of the punt pulling it along then go back the other end and start over.
Abai Village was originally known as the Displaced Persons Village and is where the remaining older citizens were located when the border was moved north turning this part of the country from North Korean territory to South. It is a little run-down, quaint in parts, not prettied up like the Hanok villages are generally. There are quite a few eateries all touting for business. I suspect prices to tourists will be over-inflated here.
We return to the other side of the water the same way we came and this time are the only passengers so Richard is pulling his weight alongside the driver whereas on the way over there were others helping out. We dive back in to the markets and pick up a few items from various stalls; pig's trotter, fried slices of blood sausage, tempura prawns, a cup of sticky fried chicken pieces, and to finish off a Hotteok which is a kind of cinnamon sugar pancake stuffed with a seed and nut mix. We ate while watching a young man with a great voice sing one song then a kind of game show host followed up with some kind of audience participation thing and the upshot was that Richard was awrded another container of the sticky fried chicken pieces. Not really sure what that was about but it was fun!
After a bit of a siesta back at the hotel we head down the road to the Cheoksan Hot Springs Hotel for another bathhouse session. This place is even more spectacular than yesterday's. Only slightly more expensive, it has double the number of bath pools and extra stuff like an open air bath, jet pool and neck shower. Following the lead of the women I saw yesterday, I have brought my little hotel bottles of shampoo and conditioner. I am still oblivious to the routine and protocol, if there is one, and simply choose the facilities by whim. I move from one pool to another before choosing a seated shower spot to wash my hair. I think I do a pretty good job of rinsing everything out. I then return to one or two pools, go upstairs to the open air pool which is glorious; surrounded by rock garden and pines with small birds hopping from rock to rock, there are two pools here, one with actual round boulders for seats; and then back downstairs to the water jet pool. I spend a few minutes letting the jets massage my lower back and the soles of my feet before moving to the neck shower. This pool has a ledge to sit on submerged about waist deep, with a powerful shower directed at the neck. After a few minutes the other woman in this pool is yelling at me in Korean and scooping water out of the pool. Horrified, I realise I have not rinsed my hair as thoroughly as I thought and am leaving suds in the pool. Bowing in supplication, I apologise in Korean (one of the few expressions I have learnt) scoop out some more suds and exit the pool. I head for the cold pool where a small child is playing with her mother. After I get the wobblies from the child I decide it's time to go. It's ok, I'm ready anyway. This has been an outstanding experience; I am incredibly relaxed.Read more