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Munjangdae Peak, Songnisan National Park

Munjangdae Peak, Songnisan National Park

I went hiking in Songnisan National Park last weekend to catch some of the fall foliage.

I went hiking in Songnisan National Park last weekend to catch some of the fall foliage.

Munjandae Peak, Songnisan National Park

Munjangdae, Songnisan National Park

Beopjusa

Maitreya Buddha stands 33 meters high at Beopjusa Temple.

Songnisan National Park

It was a busy day at Songnisan National Park.

I found this cool little guy just hanging out at the temple.

I found this cool little guy just hanging out at the temple.

Beopjusa Temple

Beopjusa Temple

Women selling dried goods outside the entrance to Songnisan National Park.

Women selling goods outside the entrance to Songnisan National Park.

Fall is such a beautiful season.

Fall is such a beautiful season.

While taking a walk in Eumseong last weekend I spotted zucchini clinging to a power line.

While taking a walk in Eumseong last weekend, I spotted some zucchini clinging to a power line.

It's time to harvest the rice. That means winter is coming.

It’s time to harvest the rice. That means winter is coming.

Summer Vacation Part 4

If I were to choose to live in a big city in Korea, I think I would pick Busan. While it’s the second largest city in the country, it has much more of a laid back feel than Seoul. I particularly love its proximity to the sea. David and I spent three days there on our summer vacation and once again, a large chunk of our time was spent at the beach. It rained so much over the course of our two week adventure, so we took advantage of any chance we had to soak up the sun.

We stayed at a guesthouse in the district of Haeundae, which is located in the southeastern part of the city and known for its nightlife and beautiful beach of the same name. A lot of places are more expensive in this area, especially during “beach season”, but we found a really good deal on a private room at Pobi Guesthouse. Upon arriving, we were pleasantly surprised to found out that it wasn’t exactly a private room, but an entire apartment in a building around the corner from the guesthouse! I believe we were the first people they rented it to, as they said it had just be renovated. In addition to being across the street from the beach, it was cute, spotless and had a kitchen and washer. It was definitely an upgrade from the Gangneung beach motel, to say the least.

My friend Astrid, who was my roommate during my ten day orientation when I first arrived in Korea, lives in Busan and happily showed us a good time. After spending our first full day at Haeundae Beach with her and her friends, we went out for a delicious Korean barbecue for dinner, followed by a tour Gwangalli Beach at night. The next day we ate juicy burgers for lunch (I was craving Western food, something you can’t get in my rural town) and then went to Jagalchi Fish Market and Busan Tower. To end it, we enjoyed a very generous amount of makgeoli, which is a type of alcohol made from rice.

There is so much more to see in Busan, I’m sure. It’s located about three hours by train from my town, so I look forward to going back again soon to see more of what the city has to offer.

Haeundae Beach

Haeundae Beach

Haeundae Beach

Haeundae is probably the most popular beach in Korea during the summer, so you don’t go here to escape the crowds. We certainly enjoyed it on this sunny day, however.

A panorama of Haeundae. Photo by David.

A panorama of Haeundae. (Photo by David)

David picked up a few tubes. We couldn't resist the fun we were seeing people have in the water.

David picked up a few tubes. We couldn’t resist the fun we were seeing people have in the water.

Why not build a sand castle?

Why not build a sand castle?

The water wasn't as cold as I expected it to be. It was quite refreshing.

The water wasn’t as cold as I expected it to be. It was quite refreshing.

As we sat admiring our work, we decided it definitely wasn't the best sand castle ever built. People kept stopping to take photos of it, however, giving us the thumbs up. I guess if was a fine day's work after all.

As we sat admiring our work, we decided it definitely wasn’t the best sand castle ever built. People kept stopping to take photos, however, giving us the thumbs up. I guess it was a fine day’s work after all.

This little girl really wanted to destroy our sand castle. It was adorable.

This little girl really wanted to destroy our sand castle. It was adorable.

We had some good laughs playing games on the beach with Astrid and her friends. I'm pretty sure this game is meant for six-year-olds, but we proved that adults can have fun playing it too.

We had some good laughs playing games on the beach with Astrid and her friends. I’m pretty sure this game is meant for six-year-olds, but we proved that adults can have fun playing it too.

The beach was almost empty by sunset.

The beach was almost empty by sunset.

View of Busan and Nampo Port from Busan Tower.

View of Busan and Nampo Port from Busan Tower.

Another view from Busan Tower. So many buildings!

Another view from Busan Tower. So many buildings!

There are so many cheesy photo ops in Korea. This one is at Busan Tower, with confessions of love locked to the fence in the background.

There are so many cheesy photo ops in Korea. This one is at Busan Tower, with confessions of love locked to the fence behind us.

Nampo Port

Nampo Port

The Jagalchi Fish Market is huge! The rows and rows of stalls seemed to go on forever.

The Jagalchi Fish Market is huge! The rows and rows of stalls seemed to go on forever.

So many tentacles. They look a bit crowded, don't you think?

So many tentacles. They look a bit crowded, don’t you think?

Look at the size of those prawns!

Look at the size of those prawns!

Shellfish, anyone?

Shellfish, anyone?

There were many things at this market I could not identify.

There were many things at this market I could not identify.

There is a huge dining area in the market as well where you can enjoy the freshly caught fish either cooked or raw.

There is a huge dining area in the market as well where you can enjoy the freshly caught fish either cooked or raw.

I think this guy is trying to escape.

I think this guy is trying to escape.

More fish.

More fish.

Is it just me, or is that lobster giant?

Is it just me, or is that lobster giant?

Astrid, David and I outside Jagalchi Market at Nampo Port.

Astrid, David and I outside Jagalchi Market at Nampo Port.

Astrid took us to her favorite place for flavored makgeoli (Korean alcohol made from rice). I believe this was taken while consuming our third pitcher.

Astrid took us to her favorite place for flavored makgeoli (Korean alcohol made from rice). I believe this was taken while consuming our third pitcher.

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Panorama of Gwangalli Beach and the Gwangan Bridge. (Photo by David)

There are days when I wonder how I got here. I wonder how I came to the decision to quit my good job, get rid of nearly all my belongings and set out for an utterly foreign place far, far from comfort. I wonder why I thought putting myself in an uncomfortable or really challenging situation on a regular basis was a good idea. These thoughts usually come when I’m having a rough day and feel like I don’t have the strength to complete my contract here. Yes, I will admit I have those thoughts where all I want is to come home to a place of ease where family, close friends and IPAs are within reach.

I had the same thoughts throughout the first year I lived in Seattle. When I was 22, right after graduating from college, I decided to move from Colorado to Washington and really didn’t put much thought into it. I just did it. I remember my first night in that city so clearly. It was a hot August evening. I was exhausted from driving halfway across the country and moving into my apartment in a city I really knew nothing about. All I wanted was a shower, but I couldn’t find my shower curtain anywhere and it made me so angry. I ended up on the floor in the middle of a bunch of boxes, sobbing, wondering what I’d just done. Why did I just leave the city I’d lived in all my life for a place where I had no job and didn’t know a single person? Why would I put myself in that position? I remember panicking, thinking I’d just made the worst decision ever.  But I didn’t. Not only did I grow to absolutely love that city, I grew as a person in so many ways. The people and experiences that came from my decision to take that uncertain path will be cherished forever. I’m sure I will look back on my year in Korea and feel the same sense of gratification.

I know that I will not stay in Korea beyond the end of my contract which means I need to begin thinking about my next move. Where will it be?  What will I do? I really don’t know, and not knowing has evoked a lot of anxious feelings. The unknown is a scary place, but it always has a way of unfolding into something beautiful. Perhaps patience is key. Or just trusting that the path I take is meant to be and I will choose it for a reason, even if that reason isn’t known until I’m well on my way.

Namhae Island

Namhae Island

Women sorting though what I think are sardines, but I am not certain.

Women sorting though what I think are sardines, but I am not certain.

Namhae Island

Namhae Island

Lanterns in the daylight at the Jinju lantern festival.

A seemingly endless tunnel of lanterns in the daylight at the Jinju lantern festival.

Jinju Namgang Yudeung (lantern) Festival

Jinju Namgang Yudeung (lantern) Festival

More lanterns at the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival.

More lanterns at the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival.

A typical snack booth seen at Korean festivals, which includes bubbling silk worms, corn dogs, fried chicken and a variety or skewered meat.

A typical snack booth seen at Korean festivals, which includes bubbling silk worms, corn dogs, fried chicken, chestnuts, and a variety or skewered meat.

Boriam Temple, Namhae Island

Boriam Temple, Namhae Island

Geumsan Mountain, Namhae Island

Geumsan Mountain, Namhae Island

An interesting mural on the wall outside a house in a small village on Namhae Island.

An interesting mural on the wall outside a house in a small village on Namhae Island.

Summer Vacation Part 3.5

Before leaving Gangneung on a five hour bus ride to Busan and after seeing pictures of Jeongdongjin, David and I decided to spend an afternoon there checking out more of Korea’s eastern coastline.  Once again, the day greeted us with endless clouds and rain so it wasn’t everything we’d hoped for, but it was still beautiful.

The beach was pretty much deserted due to the rainy weather.

The beach was pretty much deserted due to the rainy weather.

Hourglass Park. It takes a year for all the sand to fall through the giant hourglass, making this a popular spot to count down and welcome the New Year.

Hourglass Park. It takes a year for all the sand to fall through the giant hourglass, making this a popular spot to count down and welcome the New Year.

Interesting sculptures on the grounds of the Sun Cruise Resort, a fancy hotel resting on a cliff overlooking the East Sea.

Interesting sculptures on the grounds of the Sun Cruise Resort, a fancy hotel resting on a cliff overlooking the East Sea.

I've never seen accommodation quite like the Sun Cruise Resort.

I’ve never seen accommodation quite like the Sun Cruise Resort.

View from one of the observation decks of the resort.

View from one of the observation decks of the resort.

The beautiful East Sea.

The beautiful East Sea.

Even under gray skies the sea was showing off its beautiful colors which I just couldn't get enough of.

Even under gray skies the sea was showing off its beautiful colors which I just couldn’t get enough of.

Don't look down.

Hold on tight.

The Korean coastline was so much more beautiful than I imagined it would be.

The Korean coastline was so much more beautiful than I imagined it would be.

Another deserted beach.

Another nearly deserted beach.

Pretty nice view from the pool.

Pretty nice view from the pool.

More interesting sculptures on the grounds of the resort.

More interesting sculptures on the grounds of the resort.

We took a break from the rain and enjoyed a drink in the rotating bar on the top of the resort.

We took a break from the rain and enjoyed a drink in the rotating bar on the top of the resort before heading to the bus station.

Summer Vacation Part 3

After exploring Sokcho and Seoraksan, David and I hopped on a bus to Gangneung, the second stop on our two week summer vacation.  Our original plan was to go to Ulleungdo, a beautiful island 120 km east of the peninsula, but due to bad weather and rough seas, we opted not to.  I was a little bummed about skipping it, but Gyeongpo Beach in Gangnueng did not disappoint and provided some really good times and excellent seafood.

We headed straight to Gyeongpo Beach after arriving at the bus terminal in Gangneung since the sun was actually showing its face (we had a few really rainy days beforehand in Sokcho).  Despite it being peak season for all beaches in Korea we didn’t make reservations for accommodation beforehand, so we were hoping we wouldn’t have any trouble finding a place to stay in one of many motels lining the beach.  Luckily, the first place we walked into had an open room for the next two nights, and it even had a balcony overlooking the beach.  This wasn’t a luxurious motel by any means, but it was cheap and the location couldn’t have been better.

Our time in Gangneung mainly consisted of two things: relaxing on the beach and eating.  The beach stretches six km along the East Sea and is one of the cleanest I’ve seen in Korea.  The water was a bit chilly but really clear.  They actually weren’t allowing anyone to go more than ankle deep in the water the the first day we were there (I assume due to larger than normal waves and a strong current), but gazing at the waves crashing against the sand with a brilliant blue sky in the background was enough to make us happy.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to enjoy that blue sky beyond that first day as the next two were overcast and rainy.  The amount of excellent food we ate made up for the lack of beautiful weather, however.

Gyeongpo Lake

David, the East Sea and Gyeongpo Beach.

The beach was really clean and beautiful.

The beach was really clean and beautiful.

You rarely see Koreans wearing actual bathing suits on beaches in Korea. They aren't big fans of direct sunlight.  You often see them carrying umbrellas on sunny days.

It’s not common to see Koreans wearing actual bathing suits, or if they are they wear clothing over them that they don’t take off (even when getting in the water). You often see Koreans carrying umbrellas in sunny weather as well.

We laughed a lot, like usual.

We laughed a lot, like usual. I like what the wind has done to my hair, don’t you?

Sand castles against the backdrop of pine trees and Gyeongpo's strip of motels and restaurants.

Sand castles against a backdrop of pine trees and Gyeongpo’s strip of seafood restaurants.

We enjoyed the freshest sashimi on our first night on the beach. It was amazing. So was the price.  But hey, how often will we get to enjoy fresh seafood on a beach in Korea together?

We enjoyed the freshest sashimi on our first night on the beach. It was amazing. So was the price. But hey, how often will we get to savor fresh seafood on a beach in Korea together?

The amazing spread.

I thought you might like to see another angle of the delicious spread.

Fireworks and sparklers on the beach. Fireworks are legal and sold everywhere in Korea, especially near beaches.  We could hear them going off all night long.

After dinner, ignoring the sprinkling rain, we lit fireworks and sparklers on the beach. Fireworks are legal and sold everywhere in Korea, especially near beaches.

Unforunately, we woke up on the second day to see the sun was going to hide from us again.  We still managed to have fun, despite the gloomy weather.

Unfortunately, we woke up on the second morning to see the sun decided hide from us again. That didn’t stop us from having fun, though.

Moments before David was yelled at by several lifeguards for getting in the water without a flotation device.

Moments before David was yelled at by several lifeguards for getting in the water without a flotation device.

Funky bridge

Gyeongpo Beach Bridge

Fisherman on one of the piers in Gyeongpo.

I’m guessing a day of fishing in Gyeongpo isn’t complete without soju (note the bottle in front of the guy crouching at the bottom).

The main "strip" along the beach that was filled with sea food restaurants.

The main “strip” along the beach that was filled with sea food restaurants and motels.

Taking a break from the rain to enjoy bingsu.

Taking a break from the rain to enjoy bingsu.

The lovely path that wraps around the tranquil Gyeongpo Lake.

The lovely path that wraps around tranquil Gyeongpo Lake.

A park with fancy bathrooms on the edge of Gyeongpo Lake.

A pretty little park next to the lake.

We rented this awesome ride for an evening cruise around the lake.

We rented this awesome ride for an evening cruise around the lake. I took the driver’s seat, of course.

A beautiful stream alongside Gyeongpo Lake.

A beautiful stream alongside Gyeongpo Lake.

Picking out dinner.

David picked out our main course for dinner.

I think the boy is pondering what he just ate for dinner while our crab is about to be steamed.

I think the boy is pondering what he just ate for dinner while our crab is about to be steamed.

We splurged again on a delicious beach side dinner of crab and a ton of banchan (side dishes).

We splurged again on a delicious beach side dinner of crab and a ton of banchan (side dishes).

A serene morning at Gyeongpo Lake.

A serene morning at Gyeongpo Lake.

 

Locks of love at Busan Tower.

Locks of love at Busan Tower.

Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park

View from the bar on the top floor of Sun Cruise Resort in Jeongdongjin.

View from the bar on the top floor of Sun Cruise Resort in Jeongdongjin.

Olle Trail #1, Jeju Island

Olle Trail #1, Jeju Island

There was a pepper festival in Eumseong on the street right outside my apartment building last week. This is the liveliest I've ever seen this town.

There was a pepper festival in Eumseong on the street adjacent to my apartment building last week. This is the liveliest I’ve ever seen this town.

There were nightly fireworks (and loud music) directly outside my apparent during Eumseong's five day pepper festival.

There were nightly fireworks (and loud music) directly outside my front door during Eumseong’s five day pepper festival.

Jokbal, also known as pig's feet. Yes, I ate pig's feet. It doesn't sound appetizing but it was actually pretty good.

Jokbal, also known as pig’s feet. Yes, I ate pig’s feet. It doesn’t sound appetizing but it was actually pretty good.

The park in Eumseong where old men gather to play croquet every afternoon.

The park in Eumseong where old men gather to play croquet every afternoon.

Craft day with 5th and 6th graders during summer camp.

Craft day with 5th and 6th graders during summer camp.

The Korean flag, or Taegukgi, blows in the wind on Ulsanbawi.

The Korean flag, or Taegukgi, blows in the wind on Ulsanbawi.

Summer Vacation Part 2

Seoraksan is one of Korea’s most popular parks and it’s easy to see why.  Its  impressive crags are among the tallest in the country and the lush valleys are beautiful year-round.  Located just 20 km west of Sokcho, Outer Seorak is really easy to get to by bus.  There was a stop right outside the guesthouse David and I were staying in, and it only took about 30 minutes to get to the park entrance.  Thankfully, after a few days of solid rain, we woke up to the sun shining and a brilliantly blue sky which made for an extremely beautiful day.

We decided to hike the popular Ulsanbawi trail because we heard the view from the top, especially on a clear day, was simply amazing.  It certainly proved to be and the hike wasn’t too difficult.  The ascent was gentle until the last few kilometers, followed by about 800 stairs leading to a breathtaking view.  If we hadn’t had so many things on our to-do list during our two week trip, I think we would have spent a few more days exploring the rest of the park.  Perhaps I’ll make it back to witness the red, orange and gold bursts of color that cover the park in the fall.

Giant Buddha near the entrance in Outer Seorak.

Giant Buddha near the park entrance in Outer Seorak.

Seoraksan National Park

David, testing the water at Seoraksan.

Seoraksan National Park

We couldn’t have asked for a better day to explore Seoraksan. With July and August being the rainy season in Korea, we were lucky to have such beautiful weather.

Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park, somewhere on the Ulsanbawi route.

Seoraksan National Park

The granite peaks of Ulsanbawi.

View from the top of Sokcho and the East Sea.

View of Sokcho and the East Sea.

Ulsanbawai,

Ulsanbawi, Seoraksan National Park

We made it up the 800 stairs

We made it up the 800 stairs!

Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park

There are snack bars and places  to eat on the trails

There are snack bars and places to eat along many of the hiking trails in Korea. They seem to appear out of nowhere and I keep wondering how they haul all the supplies and equipment up the steep, narrow trails.

Seoraksan National Park

Sinheungsa Temple nestled on the mountainside in Seoraksan National Park.

Korean rooftops and craggy peaks.

Korean rooftops and craggy peaks.

Outer Seorak

Outer Seorak

We enjoyed haemul pajeon and makgeolli after the hike.

We enjoyed haemul pajeon (a savory pancake with seafood and green onions) and makgeolli after the hike, both of which are popular “snacks” sold near hiking trails. Makgeolli is a traditional Korean alcoholic beverage made from rice and is typically served in bowls.

 

A storm brewing and wind blowing though rice fields at the Cheongju Airport train station.

A storm brewing and wind blowing though rice fields at the Cheongju Airport train station.

Korean bbq in Eumseong with David and four of the six other English teachers that live in my town.

Korean bbq in Eumseong with David and four of the six other English teachers that live in my town.

Sunset at Gujora Beach, Geoje Island.

Sunset on Chuseok at Gujora Beach, Geoje Island.

Falling warning at Sinseondae, Geoje Island.

Falling warning at Sinseondae, Geoje Island.

Sinseondae, Geoje Island

Sinseondae, Geoje Island

Sinseondae, Geoje Island

Sinseondae, Geoje Island

I've adopted a few Korean camera poses.

I’ve adopted a few Korean camera poses.

View of rice fields and the many islands surrounding Geoje.

View of rice fields and the many islands surrounding Geoje.

Thousands of baby shrimp drying in the sun.

Thousands of baby shrimp drying in the sun.

All of the alleyways in Gujora Village on Geoje Island were brightly painted. SpongeBob SquarePants even makes an appearance.

All of the alleyways in Gujora Village on Geoje Island are brightly painted. SpongeBob SquarePants even makes an appearance.

Summer Vacation Part 1

You can’t always trust guide books.  If it weren’t for Sokcho’s proximity to Seoraksan National Park, I might have skipped over the city entirely.  The book I picked up before coming to South Korea makes Sokcho seem like a drab little port city with nothing to offer besides a base for visiting the extremely popular national park nearby.  On the contrary, David and I found it to be extremely pleasant and really enjoyed three nights there.  It was the first stop on our two week summer adventure.

Sokcho is a smaller coastal city in northern Gangwon Province.  We took a bus  from Seoul which took just under 3 hours and cost us each about $16.  Since summer is peak travel season in Korea, we booked a few nights at Afterglow Guesthouse prior to arriving and I’m really glad we did.  I highly recommend staying there if you ever find yourself in Sokcho.  A private room with our own bathroom, TV, air conditioner, clean towels everyday, non-fluorescent lighting and a comfortable bed was only $33 per night.  It was the coziest, cheapest and cleanest place I’ve stayed in Korea.  (Outside of Seoul and Busan, guesthouses or hostels like this are hard to come by in Korea.)  The owners are extremely kind and graciously helped us out with anything we needed, including umbrellas when we got caught in a rainstorm and walked in soaking wet, as well as hand drawn maps and weather updates.  They are a younger married couple who have done quite a bit of world traveling themselves, therefore know exactly how to make everyone’s stay as convenient and comfortable as possible.

The Afterglow Guesthouse owners were very excited to have our picture taken with them.

The Afterglow Guesthouse owners were very excited to have our picture taken with them.

We enjoyed dinner at a fish bbq restaurant on our first night in Sokcho. It was delicious.

We enjoyed dinner at a fish bbq restaurant on our first night in Sokcho. It was delicious.

A young man working at the restaurant spoke a little bit of English and was able to tell us the names of most of the fish as he manned the grill at our table. One of tastier ones was simply called "the most delicious". He was right, it was the most delicious, whatever it was.

David can hardly believe his eyes. 😉 A young man working at the restaurant spoke a little bit of English and was able to tell us the names of most of the fish as he manned the grill at our table. One of tastier ones was simply called “the most delicious”. He was right, it was the most delicious, whatever it was.

On our first full day in Sokcho, after enjoying free coffee and cheese toast provided by Afterglow, we headed out with a map to wander the city with no real agenda.  It started out as a cloudy morning and turned into a super windy, rainy day which required a pit stop at 7-11 for a rain poncho.  That didn’t stop us from having a blast exploring, however.  We took the gaetbae boat to Abai Village, a spit of land between the East Sea and a harbor that was supposed to be temporary housing for North Korean refugees during the Korean War, but it turned permanent after the DMZ was established.  It’s now filled with lots of tiny restaurants known for ojingeo sundae (a type of Korean sausage made with squid, rice or glass noodles and vegetables) so we stopped for lunch to try some.

The gaetbae boat.

The gaetbae boat.

The small man powered ferry, or gaetbae boat, taking us to Abai Village.

The small man powered ferry, or gaetbae boat, taking us to Abai Village.

Many older North Korean residents fled to Abai Village during the Korean War, waiting for things to settle before returning to their villages and farms up North. After three years and no sign of settling, the DMZ was established and they were stuck in the South.

Many older North Korean residents fled to Abai Village during the Korean War, waiting for things to settle before returning to their villages and farms up North. After three years and no sign of settling, the DMZ was established and they were stuck in the South.

Abai Village rooftops.

Abai Village rooftops.

We stopped for lumch to try some ojingeo sundae, a type of Korean sausage made from squid, rice and vegetables that is known to be the best in Sokcho.

We stopped for lumch to try some ojingeo sundae, a type of Korean sausage made from squid, rice and vegetables that is known to be the best in Sokcho.

Lunch break in Abai Village.

Lunch break in Abai Village.

After taking in views of the wild, stormy sea and exploring a few lighthouses, we decided to stop for an afternoon green tea latte and a game of cards to catch a break from the wind and rain.  It was then that we noticed how many people were carrying the same box of fried chicken (yes, fried chicken is big in Korea).  David and I decided we should probably figure out where these boxes were coming from because all the Korean tourists seemed to be carrying them.  Thanks to our friend Google and my ability to read Hangul, we were able to locate the famous fried chicken place called Manseok Chicken and decided that’s what we’d have for dinner.  To build up our appetite for this gigantic fried chicken feast, we did some more exploring and walked to the other side of the city and stumbled upon Sokcho Beach.  Unfortunately, the weather was so bad at this point we were told we couldn’t even be on the beach.  We got in a few rainy snapshots beforehand, however, and instead of enjoying a beer on the beach in our rain ponchos like planned, we found a nice park bench surrounded by trees, shielding us from the wind and the rain (there are no open container laws in Korea, by the way).

Lighthouses in Sokcho.

Lighthouses in Sokcho.

Looking down at the Abai Village ferry crossing.

Looking down at the Abai Village ferry crossing.

View of Sokcho from Abai Village.

View of Sokcho from Abai Village.

Not quite beach weather but still beautiful.

Not quite beach weather but still beautiful.

Dried squid is everywhere.

Dried squid is everywhere.

Wild waves on Sokcho Beach.

Wild waves on Sokcho Beach.

We were able to snap a few photos before being kicked off the beach. Apparently no one is allowed on the beach in really stormy weather.

We were able to snap a few photos before being kicked off the beach. I guess they “close” the beaches in really stormy weather.

Nearly all the Korean tourists were carrying these boxes of Manseok Chicken, an apparently famous chicken stand in the Jungang Fish Market. After enjoying a large fish dinner the night before, we decided we had to see what all the chicken fuss was about.

Nearly all the Korean tourists were carrying these boxes of Manseok Chicken, an apparently famous chicken stand in the Jungang Fish Market. After enjoying a large fish dinner the night before, we decided we had to see what all the chicken fuss was about.

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We opened the box to discover a large amount of fried chicken drenched in a spicy, sticky sauce. Is this much chicken necessary for two people? Probably not.

Magically, we woke up the next morning to a beautiful, cloudless day which was perfect for exploring Seoraksan National Park.  Deserving of its own post, I’ll more about that later.  In a nutshell, it was stunning and only a 30 minute bus ride from of Sokcho.  Thankfully, our third and final day in Sokcho was also gorgeous and since our bus heading to our next destination didn’t leave until the afternoon, we had time to check out Sunrise Pavilion which we weren’t able to see before due to the bad weather.  The water was the most amazing shade of aqua and the sunshine created a completely different view of the East Sea.  It was the perfect way to end our stay in the cute port city before moving on to Gangneung.

The brilliantly blue East Sea.

The brilliantly blue East Sea.

Sunrise Pavilion, looking out to the East Sea. Unfortunately, we didn't get our lazy butts out of bed in time to enjoy the sunrise.

Sunrise Pavilion, looking out to the East Sea. Unfortunately, we didn’t get our lazy butts out of bed in time to enjoy the sunrise.

Enjoying a beer in the sunshine near Sunrise Pavilion before heading to Gangneung.

Enjoying a beer in the sunshine near Sunrise Pavilion before heading to Gangneung.

Sokcho on a sunny day.

Sokcho on a sunny day.

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Next stop, Gangneung.