With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Chosuk Camping

Posted by Heliocentrism on October 8, 2009

October 2-4, 2009

All Pictures

Dongmak Beach (Or Mark’s East Beach as I like to tell Mark…)

The way of the sword

First off I want to mention that this island is where Incheon borders North Korea. In fact this is where they used to train South Korean prisoners to go fight North Korea during the Korean War. The prisoners fought in hopes of winning for South Korea and regaining their freedom. It was all for naught, since the convicts were all thrown back in jail when the war ended.

This island has been the battleground of many wars. This was where the US tried to invade South Korea in 1871. The French tried it here before that in 1866. And then the Japanese showed up in 1875. Here is also where the scene of the Gangwha Massacre took place in 1951. A lot of people have died very violently on this island.

But a lot has changed since those old days of war when South Korea had to fight off its enemies. Now life is pretty laid back and has a small town or even a country-life feel to it. It’s hard to believe that Seoul is right around the corner and North Korea is even closer.

Our Chuseok dinner

What is Chuseok?

Chuseok is the Korean version of Thanksgiving. If you are a traditional Korean, on Chuseok you would go to your hometown or your spouse’s hometown to visit family. Once there you would go to the burial places of deceased relatives, clean their tomb stones and pay your respects by offering the spirits food and drinks. You would eat lots of food and play traditional games with the kids. You might even catch a ssireum match or two.

The only ssireum match we got to see

Chuseok is the worst time to travel. Just like travelling around Thanksgiving in the states, everyone and their mom is on the road. I wanted to go to Jeju Island, but all the tickets were sold out. Camping on the east coast was also not an option because, again, all the train tickets were sold out. The only places for us to go were areas that we could get to by Seoul mass transit.

One of the rare bus sightings on Dongmak beach.

I need wheels

If I were to go back I would rent a car or a scooter. The island is huge, buses don’t come by very often, no one seems to know the bus schedule, and taxis are hard to get anywhere other than the bus terminals. The guy at the Tourist Information office recommended renting a bicycle, but there is no way that would have worked. The island is not only really big, but also hilly.

There is also no way to get to the bike rental place other than going by taxi. It’s right next to the Gapgot Dondae in case you want to give it a try. I don’t know how much it costs to rent bike since it was closed when we got there, but apparently you can rent them for hours or days at a time.

Don’t ask the lady at this counter for information. She’ll mislead you.

See some of the sights

None of the attractions are nice enough or big enough to spend a whole day to see. The ideal thing would be to spend a day going from attraction to attraction. That, however, is impossible because of the sporadic public transportation system. You never know when the bus will come, where it will go, or who can answer your questions about what bus to take.

During this trip Mark and I would go to the terminal bus station and ask about 4 people, which bus to take and we would get about 5 different answers. It turns out that the bus drivers are the best people to ask. It takes about 5 minutes for them to give you an answer since they have to go to the bus drivers’ break room and consult a few timetables, but you can rely on their answers.

The whole time I was there I kept thinking, if only there were scooters to rent or a bus route map and schedule. I hope that a member of the Ganghwa board of tourism reads this and decides to publish a bus route map.

mud left behind when the tide goes out

Dongmak Beach

It cost us 22,000KRW to get a taxi to Dongmak Beach from the terminal station, but there were 4 of us. Our plan was to camp out on the beach. I had no delusions of swimming. Beaches on the west coast of Korea are glorified mud pits after the tide goes out and just plain muddy water when the tide is in.

Mom, is this supposed to be fun?

There were many day tents on the beach when we got there so we figured that we were the only ones spending the night. Mark and I had a tent, but our friends did not. Their plan was to rent a tent. It seems like, had we done this in the summer there would have been tents to rent. But, this was October and all the tent renters closed up shop and migrated south for the winter.

Mark and I told them that tent renting stops in Korea on whatever the last day of summer is decided to be. We told them where to buy cheap tents, which at this time of year are on sale for about 30USD to make room for fall stock. But, they didn’t want to spend the money. They decided to take their chances with a rental tent.

Many things change here once the summer ends. The water at the foot washing station didn’t have running water. The shower facilities, despite the fact that there was running water, were closed. We tried to jump the fence and use it anyway, but random Korean tourists who just couldn’t mind their own business, kept telling us that we should use the foot washing station to shower.

Like moths to a flame

On the up side, the place was quite uncrowded!

At night we put up our tent and started a campfire. The fire seemed to spark the interests of many of the Koreans on the beach. They kept coming over starting awkward small talk while warming themselves by the fire. After a while some of them felt guilty for taking all our fire warmth, so they went out and got more wood, chopped it up and tended the fire for us.

We showed one kid and his parents how to roast hot dogs over the campfire. They politely ate the wieners we gave them, but I’m sure they thought it was the weirdest thing in the world. To show their appreciation they bought us a big bag of chips. “Here foreigners, this is what you are supposed to eat around a campfire.”

putting up our tent

Since there was no tent to rent, our friends set out to find information about nearby hotels. When they came back they reported that everything was too expensive at about 40USD per night. Personally, I didn’t think that was too expensive for 2 people, but they preferred to sleep on a bench near our tent. When I say “they” and mean the guy. The young lady was clearly upset.  Feeling bad for them, we shared our tent. But little did we know that our generosity would not stop there.

They brought and bought no food the entire trip. Mark and I would cook our meals and they would just sit there watching us. Occasionally I would hear comments like, “Wow, that smells good,” or “That looks tasty.” It would have been really rude of us to not share with them. And, I would have felt uncomfortable chowing down while they sat there staring at us drooling.

At first, I figured that we would share our first meal with them, and then they would buy and prepare the next meal. We even mentioned that we had just bought all the supplies across the street from the Family Mart. But, they were more than content to eat our food and not reciprocate in any way.

I’m not even going to offer to help. Nope!

They didn’t even offer to wash a dish or to help clean up. The next day Mark and I took down our tent and they sat there watching us. They had the gall to not even pretend to be busy doing something else. There were no lockers at the bus terminal so Mark and I had to carry our tent and grill around all day. Neither the guy nor his girlfriend offered to help carry anything not even for a few seconds.

In fact, while Mark and I were at the bus terminal asking everyone we could for directions and bus numbers to get to our destinations, both of them sat on their asses and did nothing. They didn’t even help to figure out which gate we should stand by or when to get off the bus.

It did rain a bit, but I still LOVE camping!

Another Campsite

The next evening we eventually made our way to the Hamheodongcheon Campsite. Again there was no tent for our friends to rent. So they slept in our tent once again. They still didn’t help put up the tent or take it down the next day. But on the bright side, there was a GS25 Mart nearby to buy food and supplies; well, at least for Mark and me to do the buying.

At the GS25 Mart Mark and I bought more supplies. The girlfriend finally started to feel bad and she announced that she would buy the paper plates for tonight’s dinner. The boyfriend bought himself a small bag of chips. After Mark and I cooked dinner and cleaned up Mark said that he was still hungry and was thinking about going back down to the GS25 Mart. The girlfriend said, “Oh, here is a bag of chips. We can share it!”

The boyfriend flew into a little rage. “I paid for those! They aren’t yours to offer to other people!” The girlfriend meekly retracted her offer of chips then muttered, “We’re sleeping in their tent. The least we can do is give them some stupid chips.”

All to ourselves

The campsite was huge and because it was Chuseok, there weren’t tons of people around. There was one weird guy who seemed quite fascinated by us. He came by with his dog and just sat in our camping area and stared at us. We tried saying hi, but he wouldn’t speak. Later on he sat on the street across from us and sang. We joined in and it seemed to frighten him. What an odd guy.

The shower facilities here were locked, but the washing station did have running water.

Houston we have a problem; a sexy problem…

He’s too cheap for  that; let’s to it!

The next day, day 3, Mark and I were tired of lugging around our gear, paying for everyone’s meals, and dealing with the boyfriend’s little hissy fits. We didn’t want to spend hours upon hours at the terminal asking for directions. So when we saw something interesting on the bus ride to the terminal we asked to be let off.

All four of us walked over the ticket counter to find out what the building was. It was a space center. It was mainly for kids. And, for Korea, it was a bit expensive at about 13USD for an adult ticket. “Does it have air-conditioning,” one of us asked. It did.

Welcome!

Boyfriend, peered into the building suspiciously. I looked and Mark and he looked at me. I just knew whether or not Mark and I stayed would depend on the boyfriend.

Boyfriend – “It’s just really expensive.”

Mark – “Yeah. For Korea. We know.”

Me – “…and it’s for kids. We’re not kids…”

Boyfriend – “I’m not going to pay for that!”

Mark and me – “Alright then. We’ll stay. We’ll see you again some other time.”

Oh No! I don’t know how to fly this thing!

We went to the cafeteria first. There we could see the couple standing across the street. We ate while we watched them wait for the bus. Once the bus came we felt free. We vowed never to go anywhere with them again. I understand wanting to save money, but I don’t understand mooching off your friends.

You might wonder why we didn’t say anything to them or why we didn’t just eat our food and ignore them. I can’t speak for Mark, but I hate confrontations and awkward situations. Plus I didn’t realize we were being used until the second day when they had turned down several opportunities to return our generosity.

I did not expect them to pay to stay in our tent, but I was really disappointed that they didn’t offer to help take down the tent, carry the tent (even for a couple of minutes) the next day, or put it up the next evening. I was also expecting that the next meal they would say something like, “Okay guys, the next meal is on us.” Even after the trip I thought that surely they would call us up and invite us out for dinner and offer to pick up the tab. But that never happened.

In fact several weeks later they “invited” us to a concert where Boyfriend was a singer for one of the many talentless bands. We were to listen to hours of horrible heavy metal and then join them for dinner afterwards. What we didn’t realize until we got there was that we had to pay for our own tickets. As a singer, he could have gotten us free tickets, but Boyfriend never got around to picking them up and they were given away to random people walking around near the venue.

When it was time for dinner they took us to a fancy, and expensive, restaurant. Mark and I looked at the prices and decided to split an appetizer. The couple ordered something from the main menu. I was impressed. Where did the cheapskates we’d come to love go? Then they pulled out several coupons and received free meals.

YEAH!! We only have to pay for our own stuff now!!

Once they left, we had a great time. After the space center we waited for another bus, any bus, to show up. We hopped on it and got off whenever we saw something interesting. This method was far less stressful than trying to plan out destinations. We saw a few other sites before heading home and crossing the couple off our to-invite-on-trips list.

All Pictures


South Korea
(대한민국)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, or train, though entry by train is rare if not damn impossible for most non-presidents of North or South Korea.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to South Korea.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 90-day visa at the airport or ferry port.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Korean embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Korea is a generally safe country. You don’t really have to watch out for pickpockets,muggers, or scam artists.
    • You should watch out when crossing the streets, beware of scooters on the sidewalk, and the little old ladies that will push you to get that last seat on the bus or subway.
  • Use common sense and you will be okay.
  • Things are generally inexpensive and there are many wonderful things to buy.

Enjoy Korea! I live there for 2 years and had a fantastic time.


Ganghwa-do
(강화도)

How to Get There:

  • 37°44’22.6″N 126°29’23.9″E

From Seoul:

1- Via Gimpo Airport:

  1. Go to Gimpo Airport on lines 5, 9, and the Airport line.
  2. Go to the international terminal where the bus stops are.
  3. You should wait at gate #1 for bus #3. The ride cost a little over 3,000KRW from Gimpo Airport. You can use your T-money but you must first tell the bus driver your destination.

You can catch this bus at other stops in Seoul and Gimpo.

  • Here is a picture of the stops in Hangul.
  • Here is a picture of the time table in Hangul. It’s on the second row.

Get off at the last stop, Ganghwa Bus Terminal.

2- Via Bupyoung Station:

  1. Go to Bupyoung Station on Seoul line 1 and Incheon line 1.
  2. Go to the underground mall and through exit 23. Walk straight.
  3. Look for a blue #90 bus’ bus stop. They come by pretty often, so don’t worry if you miss it. The ride cost a little over 3,000KRW. You can use your T-money but you must first tell the bus driver your destination (Ganghwa-do).

Get off at the last stop, Ganghwa Bus Terminal.

3- Find a red buses that go to Ganghwa. Google says it’s #3000 and you can catch it from Hongdae Station.

Notes:

  • Do not swim too far out in the water on the north side of this island. The land on the other side is North Korea!

Dongmak Beach
(동막해수육장)

How to Get There:

  • 37°35’37.7″N 126°27’28.4″E

From Ganghwa Bus Terminal:

First go to the Tourist Information counter and get some maps; one in English and one in Korean. Use your maps to point to where you want to go when talking to cabbies or bus drivers.

  • Take a taxi
    • This should cost about 25,000KRW and it takes about an hour.
  • Take the #13 or #14 bus
    • Ask a bus driver which bus to take. Both buses come by quite infrequently. Don’t bother asking the lady at the ticket booth. She will only tell you the wrong bus number and get you hopelessly lost.
    • The bus may be parked at gate 10, any of the gate 11’s, gate 12, or gate 13.
      • For some odd reason there are 3 gate 11’s.
    • When you board the bus tell the driver where you want to go. He will stop right there whether it was a stop or not.
    • This should cost about 900KRW and take about an hour, but you might have to wait up to an hour and a half for the bus at the terminal.
  • Once at Dongmak beach take any bus, going in any direction to get back to the terminal. They make a big circle so the direction doesn’t matter.

Notes:

  • There are many restaurants and convenient stores across the street to buy supplies.
  • The Family Mart is open 24 hours a day and most of the restaurants open until late.
  • Oh… and there is a noraebang!
  • The section for tents has stones which can make sleeping quite uncomfortable. We put our tent on the small cemented area even though we have an air mattress.
  • Camping on the sandy part of the beach is impractical since the beach is narrow at high tide and slopes.

Ganghwa Dolmen
(강화지석묘군)

How to Get There:

  • 37°46’23.7″N 126°26’13.5″E

From Ganghwa Bus Terminal:

  • Take the #1 bus
  • Ask a bus driver which bus to take. Don’t bother asking the lady at the ticket booth. She will only tell you the wrong bus number and get you hopelessly lost.
  • This bus will be parked next to gate 1, but not at gate 1.
  • When you board the bus tell the driver where you want to go. He will stop right there whether it is a stop or not.
  • This should cost about 900KRW.

To get back just stand on the side of the road and flag down any bus. Unlike Seoul, you don’t have to be at a bus stop to get a bus driver to stop for you. When a bus stops, stick your head through the door and ask, “Terminal?” If he goes to the terminal he’ll nod his head and let you on. If not, he’ll mutter something in Korean and not let you board the bus.

Cost:

Free

Phone:

  • 032-933-3624

Notes:

  • You will be disappointed if you spend 3 hours to get here. This is a nice site, if it is one of many sites you visit, but not if you are planning to make it the main attraction.

Seokjo Buddha Standing Statue
(석조여래입상)

How to Get There:

  • 37°46’50.8″N 126°25’32.7″E

From Ganghwa Bus Terminal:

  • Take the #1 bus
  • Ask a bus driver which bus to take. Don’t bother asking the lady at the ticket booth. She will only tell you the wrong bus number and get you hopelessly lost.
  • This bus will be parked next to gate 1, but not at gate 1.
  • When you board the bus tell the driver where you want to go. He will stop right there whether it was a stop or not.
  • This should cost about 900KRW.

From Ganghwa Dolmen

  • Walk towards the road 48, the road the bus that brought you there drove on. Stand with your back to the Ganghwa Dolmen and turn right. Keep walking until you see a sign for the carved standing Buddha.

To get back just stand on the side of the road and flag down any bus. Unlike Seoul, you don’t have to be at a bus stop to get a bus driver to stop for you. When a bus stops, stick your head through the door and ask, “Terminal?” If he goes to the terminal he’ll nod his head.

Cost:

Free

Hours:

Always available for viewing.

Notes:

  • You will be disappointed if you spend 3 hours to get here. This is a nice site, if it is one of many sites you visit, but not if you are planning to make it the main attraction.
  • Before we walked up the hill to the Buddha and the pagoda we left our bags at the little store at the fork in the road. The lady who owned the store watched our stuff and didn’t take any money for it, even though we offered to pay. We did, however, buy water and snacks from her when we got back.

Five-Storied Pagoda
(오층석탑)

How to Get There:

  • 37°46’46.2″N 126°25’17.9″E

From Ganghwa Bus Terminal:

  • Take the #1 bus
  • Ask a bus driver which bus to take. Don’t bother asking the lady at the ticket booth. She will only tell you the wrong bus number and get you hopelessly lost.
  • This bus will be parked next to gate 1, but not at gate 1.
  • When you board the bus tell the driver where you want to go. He will stop right there whether it is a stop or not.
  • This should cost about 900KRW.

From Seokjo Buddha Standing Statue:

  • If you haven’t seen the sign already on your way to the Buddha statue, just go back to road 48 and walk going west, or away from the Ganghwa Dolmen. You should see a sign soon.

To get back just stand on the side of the road and flag down any bus. Unlike Seoul, you don’t have to be at a bus stop to get a bus driver to stop for you. When a bus stops, stick your head through the door and ask, “Terminal?” If he goes to the terminal he’ll nod his head.

Cost:

Free

Hours:

Always available for viewing

Notes:

  • You will be disappointed if you spend 3 hours to get here. This is a nice site, if it is one of many sites you visit, but not if you are planning to make it the main attraction.

Hamheodongcheon Campsite
(함허동천야영장)

How to Get There:

  • 37°36’41.0″N 126°27’09.7″E

The directions are the same as the ones to get to Dongmak beach. They are both on the same road. If you can’t pronounce the name, just say, “camping” and point to your map.

From Dongmak Beach

  • Take any bus going left to right when your back is to the beach . Tell the driver where you want to go.
  • The entrance is not very obvious, so again, make sure to tell the bus driver where you want to go.

Cost:

The picture above might be helpful if you can read Korean. The smaller fees are for entrance to the park. There is a mountain you can climb to visit a temple. Camping overnight cost a bit more. Mark paid about 9,000KRW for him and me. Having camped in Korea before  I think the price is calculated like this:

  • 2 adult entrance tickets: 1,500KRW X 2 = 3,000KRW (We were of a group of less than 30 people.)
  • 2 adults with own tent:   3,000KRW X 2 = 6,000KRW

  • total   = 9,000KRW (about 9USD)

That’s how it worked at Muuido.

There might be tents to rent, but don’t count on it. It might be something that’s only available in the summer.

Hours:

Always open

Notes:

  • There is a 24 hour Family Mart right by the entrance where you can buy food and supplies.
  • There is a restaurant or two within the campsite, but they aren’t always open. Unfortunately we didn’t see a noraebang.
  • The further you go up the better the campsites get.
  • There are wooden platforms you can put your tent on, but you don’t have to use them.
  • You can pitch your tent anywhere you find space.

Oktokki Space Center
(옥토끼 우주센터)

How to Get There:

From Hamheodongcheon Campsite:

  • Take any bus heading towards the main bus terminal (the one you go to when you want to go to Incheon.)
  • Tell the driver where you want to go.

From Dongmak beach:

  • Stand at the bus stop on the side of the road that the beach is on. Flag down any bus.
  • Tell the driver where you want to go.

From Ganghwa Terminal:

  • Take bus #14 tell the driver where you want to go.

I’m not sure if there is a bus stop at the space center, but buses on this island seem to stop whenever someone flags them down or wherever someone needs to get off.

Address:

1026 Buleun-myeon Duun-ri, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon
South Korea

Phone:

  • 032-937-6918

Website

Cost:

Adults = 13,000KRW

Hours:

  • 9:30 ~ 19:00

Notes:

  • This park seems to be for kids, but it was on road 84 and easy to get to from our campsite. We had fun there and spent about 3 hours playing and taking photos.
  • If you go, try the 4 season sledding in the back.
  • The place has air conditioning!

Gwangseongbo
(광성보)

How to Get There:

  • 37°39’54.0″N 126°31’48.4″E

From Ganghwa Terminal:

  • This bus will be parked at gate 6 and will not have a number. This bus runs very infrequently.
  • Tell the bus driver where you want to go.

To go back to the terminal take any bus that stops at the bus stop whether it goes to the terminal or not. If it doesn’t go to the terminal get off when the bus gets on road number 84. Right before the turn to road 84 you will see, on the right side, an ad for a restaurant of a guy making noodles.

Once on road 84 stop any bus headed north, (going in the direction opposite of the bus you got off of).

Website

Cost:

Adult: 1,100KRW

Notes:

  • There is muddy fishing area nearby.
  • Bring your fishing rod

Map:

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