chu seok at seoraksan in sokcho
So far, my get-everything-out-of-Korea-I-can attitude is off to a good start. For Chu Seok (Korean Thanksgiving) holiday this year, with only one day off of work, my friend Tina and I took a night bus to Korea's east coast. Our destination: Seoraksan, Korea's jewel of a mountain just outside of Sokcho, right on the Sea of Japan.
Sokcho is a sweet little town with beautiful clean beaches, reliable transportation (something very common here in Korea), and awesome seafood.
Our first destination was the Hwajinpo Aquarium, which the guidebook said was shaped like a whale. That is why we went...BUT! Unfortunately, the guidebook people can't tell the difference between a whale and a ship or they did a complete overhaul in the past two years. Both seem possible.
The first floor was full of dead things. Stuffed creepy seals that smelled awful, creepy mannequins with assorted limbs, and creepy stuffed and shellacked fish / aquatic life that had googly-eyes glued on in lieu of real ones. CREEPY.
Blowfish. That just ain't right.
When I said assorted limbs, I meant it.
We finally made it to the actual aquarium where there were fish that were...you know...ALIVE.
This fish was pretty cool. I can't remember the name of it though...
The boy wasn't part of the picture, but he was stunned at the sight of us, so he stayed. Yes, that is a fish tank. And yes...that is a dinner menu advertised right above it.
Some more Sokcho sights:
Hwajinpo (Hwajin Lake) from the beach.
Man fishing in the Sea of Japan.
A fish ...cannery? On the bus ride back to Sokcho proper.
Cute street lights!
Fresh fish market.
Dried...something-or-other. Some type of seafood.
There are eleventy billion kinds of kimchi. These are just some of them.
Making pajeon, Korean pancake.
Sang-tae chigae, fish stew. It was different...lots of bones, and not very filling.
Ojingeo sundae...squid stuffed with spices and other things that I don't really care to know about.
Saturday, Tina, Prut and I made it to Seoraksan for a day of hiking in the mountain air.
Jjambong, spicy seafood noodle soup. This was breakfast! (Note: it is as spicy as it looks.)
The marquee seemed out of place among the natural beauty.
The road to Biryeong Pokpo (Biryeong Waterfall), our first destination.
The natural springs are put to use to cool the canned and bottled drinks for sale.
We made it a bit too early for significant fall colors, but some of the trees were already starting to change.
It was an easy hike there. I look pretty pleased with myself.
We found a friend on the trail. One of my friends said it's like he was giving the typical Korean peace sign.
Gosh, it's beautiful here.
I kind of knew there was a big giant Buddha somewhere in Seoraksan, but it was a real surprise when we came upon it.
This couple was posing in front of the statue.
I'm not sure what these tablets were on the left...I think it was some sort of donation system. If you gave some money, you got to write a message on them.
How is this rock stack still staying up? MAGIC!
The temple of Sinheungsa / Seoraksan in the background.
Some lanterns. You know...no biggie.
We saw some more foliage.
The second trek we took was to Heundalbalwi, a giant 16-ton boulder near a Buddhist hermitage.
This is the view when we finally reached it.
One of the little Buddha statues on a rock.
Inside one of its temples.
Supposedly, the way it's positioned, you only need a few people to rock it back and forth. We were not those people.
As we climbed back down, we stopped and saw this amazing view.
Our last day, Tina and I tried to soak up the beach as much as possible before our 12:00 bus left for Seoul.
There were fences with barbed wire all along the beaches to keep out North Korean spies.
It was really sad to leave Sokcho...the air, the friendly people...just like with most small towns, it was hard to return to the big city.