Last weekend I decided to leave Seoul behind and find a nice, quiet spot somewhere in the countryside. The thing about Seoul is, that’s it’s never really quiet and the air quality hasn’t been all that great for the past two weeks.
I’m sorry that I haven’t posted on here more often, but I have hardly done anything other than work. Sitting in front of a computer screen for eight hours a day every day does take away the motivation to write more stuff, but I’ll try my best from now on. Living and working in Seoul has honestly for the past few weeks. I haven’t quite been getting over the constant level of noise and a little bit of a culture shock just yet. It doesn’t help that there is major construction work going on in front of my apartment and I kid you not, they only work at night. I don’t know why, but combine that with the muggy weather all throughout september, I haven’t been in the best of moods. However, I decided to just get over it and get out of Seoul, and boy, was it worth it.
When I did my research about where to go for a quick weekend get away, the overall consensus seemed to be that the beaches on the West coast of Korea (think the side that Seoul is next to) are dirty and not very special. I can’t tell, because I haven’t been to the coast on that side of the country yet, but ultimately I decided to go to Sokcho, a fishing town on the East coast with the reputation of having a pretty beaches. Sokcho is located on the East Sea (or Sea of Japan, but try to find a Korean who will call it that) and very close to the border with North Korea. Sokcho’s reputation as a holiday destination comes from it’s proximity to the Seoraksan National parc (설악산국립공원), a place I hadn’t really planned on exploring much.
I decided to take an express bus out of Seoul from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (동서울종합버스터미날) (get off at Gangbyeon Station 강변역 and head across the street), for the price of 17200 KRW, which is about 14 Euros (one way). The journey takes approximately 2 1/2 hours, including a short toilet break, but it really depends on the traffic situation. The streets in and around Seoul are usually very congested, especially on weekends and during holiday season. I have read horror stories about the same bus journey taking over 6 hours and I believe it. I was lucky however, even more so, because I got a great seat on what seems to be a luxury type of bus. It had more leg space than any bus I have ever been on, red leather seats that you can properly recline in and “single” seats for those of us who travel solo. Due to certain personal circumstances (a massive hangover from the night before), I wasn’t able to leave Seoul before 6 pm, so I very much appreciated the comfort for a small price.
Arriving in Sokcho, I was quite surprised by the size of it, having expected a quaint fishing village. It’s a smallish seaside town indeed, filled with motels, casinos and restaurants. My motel (Songrim Motel) was located about 2 minutes from the small express bus terminal and 5 minutes from the beach. The room was small and functional and perfect for a short stay. I also found an opened condom box in the bedside drawer, so there is that (all the glamour). I headed to the beach for a quick glimpse of the ocean that night, but didn’t stay for long because it was getting a bit chilly. What I really enjoyed was that many korean families and couples were lighting up small fireworks and glow stick type things, creating a summery atmosphere. And yes, Sokcho is the only place in Korea where Pokemon Go works, so it was nice to catch a bunch of water pokemon by the beach.
Stay tuned for part II of my Sokcho trip.