As I knew this would be my last Chuseok in Korea, I wanted to do something special this time. Usually the holiday involves a lot of resting and enjoying how quiet the city gets, but I felt inspired by all the travelling my friends have been doing lately and decided to pack up and leave Daegu for a bit.
Best decision ever!
We headed up to Sokcho, a small city just outside of Seoul that is right next to Seoraksan National Park. Sokcho is hard to get to, but well worth it as this is by far the most beautiful and friendliest place I have seen in Korea. The park is noted as being exceptionally stunning and has some pretty good hikes which range in level. We chose Ulsanbawi, the second most difficult but I wanted a challenge. The most difficult hike is extremely long and involves camping overnight at the top which was just a bit much for me.
To get to Sokcho from Daegu you have to first get to Seoul, we could have bused… but my laziness and knowledge that the roads would be backed up for Chuseok made me chose the KTX instead. It’s always the best option.
After a 2 hour KTX to Seoul, we took a subway to the bus terminal, caught a 3 hour bus to Sokcho and then another local bus to our accommodation. I was spent, but we were staying right alongside the mountains and it was impossible not to go for a walk.
I can’t describe how good it was to be out of the city and amongst nature and fresh air. It sounds lame and clichéd yes, but I don’t realize sometimes how draining it can be living in a big place like Daegu. I love it, but the place is a bit polluted and overcrowded and coming from a small place like NZ means I feel truly home out in the country.
Not only is Sokcho beautiful, but the people there were incredibly lovely. The couple who run the motel we stayed at gave us a big bunch of grapes for Chuseok, and every restaurant we went into was so friendly. Sometimes in Korea, particularly in smaller areas, locals can be resistant to foreigners; even going as far as to ignore them completely in order to get them to leave. In each place that we went to the staff lit up when they saw us and tried so hard to make sure we got a good meal. There were recommendations of dishes and free drinks and the good side dishes were given. It was so good to meet amazing Korean people – plus the food was so yummy! I think being in the country means the veggies were that much fresher, the only photo I snapped was of some takeout bibimbap, but even that looks much more vibrant then what I would get in Daegu.
Saturday morning we woke up early to take on Ulsanbawi. After a short bus ride to the park entrance (just take local bus 7-1 or 7 right to the end of the line), and a visit to the giant Buddha, we started walking.
The walk wasn’t too difficult, but the last couple of km involved some crazy steep stairs.
Not gonna lie, this part was hard! But it was do-able, and the top it totally worth it.
I felt amazing sitting there just looking out over the mountains and taking in the country. It’s no surprise that living in Korea can be frustrating and hard at times, there are days when I hate it and just want to leave. But being somewhere like Seoraksan made me remember how lucky I am to have been able to travel to a place that I knew nothing about. Plus being there with my special someone made me a little emotional. I kept thinking about how we have been together for 8 years and how far we have come.
(my face really reflects how tired I was after the late nights and hiking).
Sorry for the feely stuff! We ended the day my busing to the beach and lying in the sun with some beers.
This morning we made the long journey back to Daegu, which was made extra long by the Chuseok traffic! The 2 hour bus ride turned into 4, although I was entertained by the puppy which sat next to me on the bus.
And just to be really foreign, we hit up the subway in Seoul. I love Korean food but sometimes a girl just wants a good sandwich! The weekend was long, but so relaxing and perfect. I cannot recommending heading out to Sokcho enough!
To get there you first need to make it to Seoul and take a bus from the express bus terminal to Sokcho city. This costs 18,1000 won and takes 2 – 3 hours depending on traffic. Once you arrive at Sokcho the beach is right on your left, but to get to the park you need to bus. This is pretty short, make sure to cross the road from the bus terminal and catch either the 7-1 or the 7 bus (1,1000 won). You can get it to the end of the line which will take you to the entrance of the National Park, but if you get off a couple of stops earlier you will be in an area with a lot of hotels and good Korean restaurants. Happy travelling!