Chuseok at the Striking Ulleungdo Island in Korea, Gateway to Dokdo

A note from Mike:  I’m happy to introduce everyone to Rodrigo!  He’s a hiking buddy and fellow traveler who usually posts travel advice at www.OutOfYourComfortZone.net.  He is LiveTravelTeach’s very first guest blogger and I hope you enjoy the article about his getaway to an exotic island!

 

Another Chuseok, another long holiday, and another opportunity to explore amazing Korea.

This time, our destiny brought us to Ulleungdo Island; it’s one of Korea’s most striking islands, located 120 km from the mainland and serving as the gateway to Dokdo, the Eastern most island of Korea’s territory and a source of national pride.

Ulleungdo is a volcanic island formed by a series of eruptions. Its highest peak is called Seonginbong, at 983.6 meters. Since it has no airports, the only way to reach the island is by ferry (or by helicopter if you are extremely wealthy or in the military 😉 ) which departs from Gangneung and Mukho in Gangwon or Pohang and Hupo in North Gyeongsang. To make this journey, we joined a trip with the Seoul Hiking Group which in their own words “we are a group of same minded people to enjoy weekend in nature with amazing people.”

Departing Friday night from Seoul, we arrived in Gangneung very early in the morning. Since there was a problem with our ferry, we ended up departing at 1:30 PM, which gave us the opportunity to explore this beautiful coastal city.

 

Gangneung

Gangneung

Gangneung

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later on Friday, we arrived at Ulleungdo after a relatively smooth 3-hour ferry….

Ulleungdo IslandUlleungdo Island

On Saturday, we went for a bus tour around the island. Our first stop was Turtle Rock. Afterwards, we spent some time at a local temple with an amazing view of the ocean. Our third stop was at the Nari basin, right in the middle of the island and the center of the ancient volcano that formed the island. It is a circular valley about 1 mile in diameter that includes several traditional Korean homes. With the mountains surrounding us, we stopped for lunch, having time to observe some of the soldiers stationed in the nearby military radar station.

Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island Nari basin Nari basin

 

After the lunch break, we had the chance to visit a pumpkin factory! No, they don’t produce pumpkins… but instead several tasty treats made of it. Continuing the busy day, we took a monorail to a viewpoint on top of the island.

Pumpkin

Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island Elephant RockElephant Rock

Finally, to finish the day, we did some swimming at the nearby “beach” (sorry for the quotation marks, but for me as a Brazilian, no sand… no beach!) and admired a nice sunset…

Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo IslandSunday!

Once more we had the chance to try traditional Korean breakfast included in the trip and supplied to us by these two adorable ladies.

Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This day, our group of 40 people all split up with different people doing different activities. I ended up with the group led by Eric (the barefoot hiking guy!!) to climb Seonginbong Peak, the highest point on the island.

Seonginbong Peak

Seonginbong Peak

Well, as happens quite often during hikes, sometimes when you get to the top the sky is completely cloudy and you can’t see more than a meter in front of you. Unfortunately, it happened on this hike. But the climb was still definitely worth it thanks to the views along the way and the great company.

Seonginbong Peak

We came down the mountain at the Nari basin. There, we had two options: wait 2 hours for the next bus or just walk to the coast….needless to say which option we took….and we literally crossed the island through the middle from one side to the other!

Seonginbong Peak

Eric playing Ocarina

 

Ulleungdo Island

Some old traditional Korean house

 

Ulleungdo Island

Some people even got a free ride!

 

Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final day… 🙁

We left the best activity for our last day….the Haengnam Seaside Walkway. This was the highlight of our trip to Ulleundgo. The walkway stretches 2.6km along the rugged cliffside coastline from the town of Dodong (where our accommodation was) to the port village of Jeodong. It is a very easy walk, even if it includes some steep stairways, bridges over the water, and a long spiral staircase. The Haengnam Dodong lighthouse hads an offshoot trail and an amazing view.

It starts in a very patriotic bridge full of Korean flags and a monument for Dokdo…

Ulleungdo Island Ulleungdo Island Haengnam Seaside Walkway Haengnam Seaside Walkway Haengnam Seaside Walkway Haengnam Seaside Walkway Haengnam Seaside Walkway Haengnam Seaside Walkway Haengnam Seaside Walkway Haengnam Seaside Walkway

The famous Ulleundgo squid….or Cuttlefish, as you wish…sorry, not a marine biologist…. 🙁

Ulleungdo Island

Going back to our pension, we still had time to get lost…just a little bit…

Ulleungdo Island

And taking the ferry back home….should I mention the engine stopping in the middle of the sea and the choppy ocean leading to some nasty noises and smells from some of the passengers?!?! You probably don’t want to imagine it…
Ulleungdo Island

 

Overall, an amazing trip, with amazing people!! We’re already planning the next Korean adventure….

I would like to thank Mike Still for inviting me to post in his blog. If you want more information about Korea and see some pretty awesome pictures, don’t hesitate in exploring his blog Live Travel Teach…..any teachers around?

If you are looking for some tips and advice on how to travel cheaply and save on things like flights, accommodation, and travel insurance, just pay a visit to my blog Out of Your Comfort Zone.

And…keep enjoying Korea if you are here! Or just come visit it! 🙂

Rodrigo

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