With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Posts Tagged ‘Camping in Korea’

A mission for Quietness

Posted by Heliocentrism on October 20, 2009

October 17-18, 2009

All Pictures

Our Fabulous Tent

Just to get away from it all…

Every now and then I get tired of city life. I don’t think I will ever pack it all up and move to the country. Actually, I tried it twice… Didn’t like it. Instead I like to live in or near a big city and go camping on the weekends.

hunting for firewood

Walla Walla

The first time, I was living and going to school in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. The crime and the traffic got to me and the crazy notion of moving to Walla Walla, Washington was somehow put in my head by my physics professor. I had romantic thoughts of waking up early and doing country stuff before classes. I don’t remember what they were now. Maybe I wanted to milk a cow or feed chickens.

Life in Walla Walla was so depressingly dull. There was nothing there. There was nothing to do. I had a boring job as a motel clerk and I was always jealous of the guests because they would check out and leave Walla Walla after staying just a few days.

ajumma hoe-down!

The last straw came on the day I tried to get a library card. If you have ever been lucky enough to hold a Montgomery County Public Library card or a library card from any of the surrounding counties, you know the caliber of book borrowing I was used to. I walked into the library in Walla Walla with hopes of escaping my podunk town by way of literature. Yes, there was only one library. There might be more now, but when I lived there, there was only one.

Spying on the ajummas

It looked like it used to be a house and that, if ghosts existed, this would be the type of place worth haunting. It didn’t have tons of books, but I hoped that I could find something. I went up to the counter to ask for a form to get a library card. The librarian was very friendly. She smiled and asked to see some ID and something with my address to prove I was a Walla Wallain.

I handed her my driver’s license and letter from my dorm. Her smile disappeared. She then informed me that I was not a resident of Walla Walla, but of College Place and that I could not get a library card.

The town I was living in was so small, that I would have never thought that it was actually two towns really close together. To add to my disappointment, later that day I found out that other than the school library filled with textbooks and research papers, College Place had no libraries of its own.

I remember driving home in tears. I phoned my mom that evening blubbering about how I had made a huge mistake and that the past 3 months in Walla Walla were the worst 3 months of my life. (This is really bad when you consider that as a 10-year-old, I spent several months partially living in a house with no roof. Walla Walla was, hands down, way worse!)

My mom called my academic dean from my old college and they re-enrolled me at the school in D.C. Then my mom sent my brother, Malcolm, out to Washington to drive with me back to the east coast.

The second time was when I moved out to the country side of Japan after living in London, but I leave that for some other time.

What is he up to?

Peace and Quiet?

This weekend was to be a little getaway for Mark and me. We wanted to be “one with nature”. It was to be a quiet couple days in the woods. When we camped here a few weeks ago it was really nice and quiet. So, we thought we’d go back.

We remembered that, although our last camping spot was nice, the higher you go up the trail the more open and scenic the camping spots got. We walked a lot further up the path this time.

Who is this lady and why is she in our tent?

We found a nice spot and set up our tent. Then we left to go get some meat to grill and water to drink. When we got back there was another tent set up and herd of ajummas dancing around and making a lot of noise.

We could tell from their supplies that the group of ajummas weren’t spending the night. We just had to wait until they left. They played games and made a lot of noise. It was a bit annoying since we did want quietness, but it was still entertaining to see them dance and have a great time.

At one point one of them got tired and decided to sit in our tent. Yes, a person we did not know just walked up to our tent and plopped herself down. She never spoke a word to us, or glance in our direction. She didn’t even say an “안녕하세요” to us. Later that same women walked too close to our firewood and fell onto it.

We didn’t mind someone sitting in our tent. We just wished she would have been courteous enough to ask first. Had she asked, we would have cleared a space for her and even invited some of the other ladies to sit with her. But, she didn’t, so we spent the rest of the time she was there staring at her suspiciously.

The group on a whole was not too bad. They were loud, but seemed very happy and that’s always good. At some point they gave us treats and booze. We gave them some chips and awkward English conversation. Then, long before sunset they packed up and left leaving a noticeable quietness in their wake.

Soon after, a little family with a screaming baby set up their tent near ours. Did I mention that this was a huge campground and that there was a plethora of other open spots to choose from? …some of these other spots were even easier to get to.

Are we on film again?!

Filming now?

Then a small film crew came by. They just stood off to the side filming everyone. They stayed for a while filming. When they moved in for close-ups of the family camping next to us without even asking their permission, Mark and I decided to go for a little walk fearing that we would be next. I have no idea why they were filming, but I didn’t want to be part of it.

I have a friend who went to a festival and was asked by someone to pose for a picture. Thinking that it is just some guy or lady on vacation asking this, she said yes. Months later she saw that photo in an ad on the subway.

Who is creepier, them filming the family without their consent or me?

The night would have been quiet, but the people in the next camp over kept making noise. Their screaming baby cried for most of the night. The kid also woke up early the next day to get in some good screaming before the sun came up.

Where is your dignity man?

Don’t go there!

Once the screaming baby crew left, another group came by. These people liked to pee next to our tent. They would walk into the wooded area near we were camped, but they wouldn’t walk too far in. Maybe they were afraid of bears? We and anyone nearby could watch them pee, but they didn’t seem to care.

When the next group of merrymakers came by we gave up. There would be no quiet weekend for us.

Part of the reason why our weekend went so badly had something to do with Korean society. Individually, Koreans are really nice, caring people… Well, except for the really racist ones you’ll find every now and then, like in any society. But, most Koreans are really very nice and will bend over backwards to help you, just like all people in general, once they know you.

But strangers here are grade-A jerks. Strangers will bump into you, run you over, spit on you, swear at you, cut in front of you in line… There is really no sense of, “maybe we shouldn’t, others might not like it” or “that’s not mine, so maybe I should leave it alone”. Remember our tent sitting friend?

Really guys? I’m still trying to sleep…

Its like everyone has a limited amount of politeness energy. If you use too much of it on strangers, you won’t have enough for family, friends, and co-workers. So, it’s okay to be a jerk to strangers.

Now it’s too cold to go camping. But we will take trips around the country and to other countries.

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!

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.

Map:

Click here for Google maps


Posted in Ganghwa, Incheon, South Korea | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

meh

Posted by Heliocentrism on October 14, 2009

All Pictures

That’s the campsite across from the grassy knoll

We don’t speak English, but okay.

To camp on Jarasum you need to have reservations. To get reservations, you need to have a Korean National ID card. To have a Korean National ID… I think you see where I’m going with this one.

Last Saturday I called the camp office at Jarasum park to ask if it was okay for me to camp there that day even though I didn’t have reservations. I got a very common reaction that some Koreans give when having to speak English… giggles.

I find this extremely annoying. Grown people should not giggle when nervous. It’s normal for kids to do it, but adults should know better. I also think it’s odd that Koreans get nervous when speaking English. If you speak English, fine. If you don’t, that’s okay too. You’re a Korean in Korea. No one should expect you to speak English. So why get nervous?

So I called. No one there spoke English very well. I think there were about 3 people in the office when I called. They kept passing around the phone and giggling. Yes, they were all grown-ups. Finally one guy came on the line who spoke a little English.

I began to speak in Korean-English, using English words that most Koreans would know.

Follow the green sidewalk across the street from Mark to get to the campsite

“I want CAMPING today. Can I CAMPING today? “

The guys say, “okay”.

Me: “CAMPING?”

Guy: “okay”

Me: “TODAY?”

Guy: “okay”

Me: “No RESERVATION. Still CAMPING okay?”

Guy: “huh?”

Me: “CAMPING today ok?”

Guy: “Okay. Camping today Yes”

During the whole conversation I heard a woman and a guy laughing in the back ground. It’s times like this when I think that sometimes, some Koreans aren’t very professional when dealing with non-Koreans at work.

I’m just an alien in Korea

Yo no hablo español muy bien, pero lo intento.

I don’t speak Spanish very well, but if I had to talk to a Spanish-speaking person on the phone at work I most definitely would not laugh. I wouldn’t pass the phone around. I would put that person on hold while trying to find someone who spoke better Spanish than I did. If that didn’t work, I would use the little Spanish I knew to help her or him. I would not act unprofessionally, by giggling like a little girl. No one can expect me to speak Spanish so what ever little Spanish I know is fine. And, that would just have to do.

I do not expect anyone in Korea to speak English fluently or even just a little bit. I know I am a foreigner in Korea and it is my job to learn Korean. But my Korean is usually a lot worse than the average Korean’s English. So, communication works better if we speak mostly in English. And I do appreciate any, and all attempts made by Koreans trying to talk to me in an English-Korean-miming fashion.

I do, however, expect a level of professionalism when I call a place of business or go to a store, restaurant, or a company. I know that giggling is a typical response that many Koreans have to embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. But at work, in a place of business or commerce, it turns off customers. When it happens to me, I feel like the person I am talking to doesn’t take my business seriously and I want to do my dealings elsewhere.

Living in Korea I come across this nonsense all the time. Bank tellers start to giggle when I ask about transferring money. Grocery store stockers giggle when I ask for the location of items. The wait staff of restaurants giggle when I place an order. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a huge Jr. High class.

Just a bunch of kids

A message to any working Koreans reading this from an average non-Korean:

Your English is fine. Just the fact that you are attempting to speak to me in English or trying to understand my poorly pronounced Korean impresses me very much.  Just continuing your interaction with me with confidence will leave me with a very good impression of you and your company. If you start giggling and acting like a shy 12-year-old, it will all go to hell. I will want to leave and look for a more mature acting person to handle my business.

So I park on the campsite? So where does my tent go?

Where is the nature I was promised?

So, we got to Gapyeong and we saw the campsite. Mark and I were very disappointed because it looked like a big lawn with tents and cars on it. No trees, no nature, no potential campfire. But, it would have done since we were already there.

We went into the office to get a camping spot. This is where we found out that there were no spots left. The weekend was a big camping festival and the place was fully booked. Mr. “Okay” just doesn’t speak English. He didn’t know what he was saying.

It’s one thing to get to a crappy campsite. It’s another to get to a crappy campsite and not be allowed in. And it’s a whole other thing to get to a crappy overcrowded campsite and not be allowed in because some giggling numskull doesn’t have enough sense to say, “no”, “don’t know” or nothing at all, instead of “okay”. But what can you do?

Intergalactic Planetary

We ended up staying at a very interesting love motel that night. It had a space theme that I didn’t completely understand, but whatever… It was on the bus route, not too expensive, and came with some free bottled tea and soft drinks to drink our sorrows away.

Nami Traffic

Where everyone and their Mom can be with nature

Nami is a huge tourist trap. It would be nice if it weren’t so crowded or if I could walk down a path without  constantly having to jump out of the way of bicycles, cars, or carts. There is some nature, but not that much.

Who is she? I asked you to marry me and you said, “okay”. Why are you giggling?

It’s very hard to find a quiet spot on the island to be left with one’s own thoughts. Though, this is what the island was designed for.  The bungalows on Nami are highly overpriced. The island is at best moderately scenic.

Ostriches on patrol

We did find one quiet area, but then we were chased away by ostriches. But at least they had no problem with us posing with them and weren’t too unfriendly. When they gave us the creepy stare of death, we moved along.

It would be fine if we lived in the area, but it’s not worth the time, effort, or money it takes to get there from Seoul. I think it is just over-hyped because “Winter Sonata” was filmed there. Since I have never seen the show, I really would have preferred some quietness.

Mark making do

Personal Space

I didn’t get train tickets for Seoul in advance because I didn’t know when we would be leaving. When it was time to go there were no seated tickets left on the next train. We would have had to wait until 8:00pm for a seat. Getting out of Gapyeong was our top priority so we got standing tickets on the next train.

This is when I came across another annoying thing that non-Koreans have to deal with. If you are in Korea and you are not Korean, some people forget that you are still a real person. Things like privacy and personal space are luxuries you don’t get.

As I stood at the counter getting information about the train, some creepy guy stood right behind me with his nose almost on my neck. I thought that he was trying to jump the line by standing in front of the person who was next after me. I turned around and ask Mark very loudly, “What’s with this guy?” Then I noticed that there was no line. It was just me talking to the ticket man and Mr. Creepy breathing down my neck.

When I got our tickets, I walked away from the counter. Mr. Creepy walked away too. He just wanted to know where the Foreigner was going, but it never  occurred to him to try to talk to me. Instead he strained his neck to listen to my conversation and then he tried to look over my shoulder.

Unfortunately this is all too common. I’ve had strangers try to touch my face, hair, jewelry,  breasts, and once an ajuma (older lady) on a train grabbed a hold of my butt and refused to let go. Sometimes, non-Koreans are really not thought of as people, but as side-show oddities.

Public bathroom on Nami Island with a little library

Next Adventure

Mark and I feel cheated out of a camping trip and a chance to be close to nature. Rather than trying out something new next weekend, we’ve decided to go for something we know is good.

We’re headed back to Ganghwa Island and to the campsite with the hard to pronounce, obscenely long name. We were really impressed by it. This time we’ll climb further up for a better spot and leave our two mooching friends behind.

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.


Gapyeong
(가평)

How to Get There:

  • 37°48’52.0″N 127°30’38.6″E

1. by Bus:

2. By Shuttle

  • You can take a shuttle from Tapgol Park in Jongro. This bus is purple, red, and orange and it will take you to the ticket office in the parking lot near the ferry to Nami Island.
  • Cost:
    • A round trip fare is 15,000KRW for an adult and 7,500KRW for one-way. You can buy your ticket to Nami Island before you get on the bus with a package fare of 23,000KRW, saving you 2,000KRW.
    • You should call for the Nami Island Seoul Center for reservations at 02-753-1245~8.

Cheongnyangi railway station

2. By Train:

Notes:

  • When there areno more seated tickets left they continue to sell tickets on the train.
    • Whenever possible, buy your tickets ahead of time. But, if you don’t know what time you will be heading out, then it is better not to buy your ticket ahead of time.
  • Standing for the whole ride is no fun, but the ride is less than 2 hours long.
    • If you do not have a seat, try to sit in one of the stairwells on the left of the train when heading to Seoul and on a right stairwell when heading away from Seoul. That way you can easily exit at your stop without having to do any gymnastics over the people sitting by the exit you want.
  • This trip was originally written in 2009. Transportation in Korea has vastly improved since then. Check with google (Click on “How to get there:”) for the most up-to-date ways to travel.

Jarasum
(자라섬)/
Jarasum Campsite

(자라섬야영장)

How to Get There:

  • 37°49’11.4″N 127°31’14.4″E

From Gapyeong Train Station

  • Follow the direction on the map and walk to road #46.
  • Walk down road #46 towards Nami Island. You should see a sign that directs you to Namisum.
  • Pass the firehouse and go under the bridge.
  • Follow the green sidewalk and turn left.
  • You will see signs to Jarasum Campsite soon after.

Address:

경기 가평군 가평읍 달전리 산 7번지

Phone:

  • 031-580-2700

Website

Notes:

  • Jarasum is mostly know for its jazz festival.
  • If you have a tent and you’re looking for a cheap place to stay, Jarasum is great. But it is not really a campsite where you can be close to nature or built a campfire. This is actually an “auto campsite” where people camp out of cars or campers.
  • You should make reservations before going during the summer or any festivals. Unfortunately most of the people who work there do not speak English and will say “okay” to anything you ask even when they do not understand what you are saying.

Nami Island
(남이섬)

How to Get There:

  • 37°47’29.1″N 127°31’32.0″E

From Gapyeong Train Station:

  • Follow the direction on the map and walk to road #46.
  • Walk down road #46 towards Nami Island.
  • You should see a sign that directs you to Namisum.
  • Follow it.

From Insadong – By Shuttle

  • You can also take a shuttle from Tapgol Park in Jongro. This bus is purple, red, and orange and it will take you to the ticket office in the parking lot near the ferry to Nami Island.
  • Cost:
    • A round trip fare is 15,000KRW for an adult and 7,500KRW for one-way. You can buy your ticket to Nami Island before you get on the bus with a package fare of 23,000KRW, saving you 2,000KRW.
    • You should call for the Nami Island Seoul Center for reservations at 02-753-1245~8.

Website

Downloadables: 

Cost:

  • Shuttle Roundtrip 15,000KRW
  • Shuttle one-way 7,500KRW
  • Shuttle & Nami Island Package deal 23,000KRW
  • Just Nami Island 10,000KRW (Round trip boat fare includes the entrance fee to Nami Island. It is also called a visa to the Naminara Republic. This is the only way to get to the island.)

Phone:

  • Information Center 031-580-8114
  • Seoul Center 02-753-1245

I don’t know if these number are for English speakers.

Videos:

Notes:

  • Nami Island is okay. There are lots of open spaces for picnics, but it’s really too far to go just for a picnic.
  • Everything on the island is over priced. It’s not as close to nature as the Naminarians think and it is way too crowded to be truly relaxing.
  • While walking down romantic paths, we constantly had to watch out for cars, bikes, and Segways.
  • Since it is a supposed to be a get-away, there isn’t much to do on the island.

Map:

Posted in Gapyeong, Jarasum Island, Nami Island, South Korea | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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:

Posted in Ganghwa, Incheon, South Korea | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Island in The Sun

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 29, 2009

August 8, 2009

All Pictures

Muuido

A day at the beach with no water

It was a nice sunshiny day. There was fun. There was sand. There were even lots of little naked kids running around. The only thing that was really missing was the water. The tide goes out really far on the east coast of Korea leaving behind brown sludge. Someone said that the sand on most Korean beaches is imported from China. That seems plausible because the sand under the sea was not sand at all.

Beach – Water = This

This was another trip planned by William. When William plans a trip there is lots of food, specifically grilled food. William has a Costco card and can get his hands on fine American cuisine like burgers and nacho cheese.

Grill Master William

But if you don’t have a Costco card and a William to carry all the food to the beach for you and cook it too, you can simple eat at the restaurant at the beach. They serve seafood and galbi (갈비). If you want to grill your own, the corner store in the park sells raw samgyeopsal (삼겹살) and mini grills. They also sell anything you would ever need except tents, so don’t bring anything that would make your backpack too heavy.

“I went horseback riding in Korea.” Now that is a true statement.

Look, Horsies!

There were dune buggies to rent and ride, but they didn’t seem like much fun. The area designated for riding was very restricted. Maybe when the beach isn’t so crowded they let you go further.

We heard rumors that there were horses at the beach and set off looking for them. At first we couldn’t see them, but we could sure smell them. They stunk!

If you ride horses a lot this wouldn’t be worth it for you. I just wanted to get on a horse to get my picture taken, to say that I rode a horse in Korea, and so that I could have something to blog about.

It cost 10,000KRW for the short ride and 20,000KRW for the long ride, though the long ride wasn’t very long. I took the short ride which involved the owner running along with the bridle of the horse in hand.

The 5 minute ride was totally worth 10,000KRW. Maybe…

They don’t need no stinkin’ tent! We’ll just sleep around this chair.

Island in The Sun

The next morning when I woke up, I saw all the people who slept at the beach without shelter. They didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects from roughing it the night before. In fact, they slept in later than I did. But it might have been because they were still pretty drunk.

Brittney and I were the only 2 awake/sober women on the beach that morning. We noticed that William left a lot of food from Costco at the beach. There were hot dogs, hot dog buns. and soda cans everywhere. We felt that since the people from our group left them and they were now gone, it was our responsibility to clean it up.

As we were cleaning up we noticed an unopened jar of salsa sauce. Then she found an unopened jar of cheese dip. Then I found a jar of dill pickles. Then we found more salsa and cheese dip and cans of soda; all unopened. My first thought was how to get this stuff back to William; he left before sunset the previous night. But then Brittney said that it was too much trouble to give it back to William, besides he left it here. He wanted us to have it. Since we were the only ones to clean up, we should divide it between us and keep it.

Her logic seemed sound to me.

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.


Muuido
(무의도)

How to get there:

  • 37°23’06.6″N 126°24’32.0″E

From Seoul:

Go to Incheon Airport. To get to the airport you can either take an airport limousine which costs about 8,000KRW depending on where you get on or take the subway and transfer to the airport line. The airport line is a bit more expensive than the other subway lines. It costs about 4,500KRW to use. You can use your T-money card on both the airport subway line and the airport limousine for a discount.

In the future Incheon Airport will not be the last stop. They are building a new parking lot and the line will someday end there. But until they do, you will have to get off at Incheon Airport and walk over to the departures and arrival area.

Go to the 3rd floor and stand between sections 5 & 6. You can use your T-money card to take bus #222 to the Jam Jin Ferry Terminal (잠진도산작천). This bus comes by once an hour and it will be beyond packed during the summer.

There is heavy traffic during the peak season so if when you get to the little bridge, the bus isn’t moving much, get out and walk. You’ll get to the ferry faster.

The Ferry to Muiido

The ferry to Muuido cost 3,000KRW for individuals and 20,000KRW for cars. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the car. The trip is free coming back.

Make sure to have a 1,000KRW note for the bus ride to the beach and another one to come back to the ferry. The bus on Muuido island doesn’t give change and you can’t use your T-money card.

Cost:

To enter the beach it costs 2,000KRW for an adult. If you bring your own tent you have to pay an extra 5,000KRW per tent in addition to the entrance fee. No one checks that you’ve paid your tent fee once you get in though. (I am in no way condoning skipping out on paying the tent fee, but if you manage to get in without paying don’t freak out.)

Heated Bungalows for rent

There are bungalows for rent along the beach. They are very small and seem to be worth it more in the spring or fall since they have heated floors. Most people who did not have tents just slept under the stars on nice summer nights. Well, most of the foreigners did… well, mostly the drunk ones.

I don’t know how much the bungalows cost.

There are showers that cost 2,000KRW to use. They’re not that bad. It seemed to me that most of the people there used the free foot washing area to do all their bathing. If you are not Korean and you plan to do this be prepared to be stared at.

Hours:

There was a time when the gate was closed and no one new could enter the park, but I don’t know what time that was.

Notes:

The bus on Muuido Island does not give change or use T-Money cards. You need to use exact change for each ride. It cost 1,000KRW per person per ride. You will need a 1,000KRW note going and another one leaving.

Maps:

Posted in Incheon, Muuido, South Korea | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: