Yesterday we started the new year at school. We had a long and much appreciated winter break, but now it is back to business. We’ve been doing our best to keep up with posting about our long vacation in Thailand and Cambodia, but since then we have taken another trip, this time around Korea. We had a few extra days of vacation left and so we packed up the car and headed north towards Seoraksan National Park. Along the way we made a few stops to sightsee around Eastern Korea which we had yet to truly explore. I will try my best to sum up our trip without overloading this post with a million pictures!
Our first stop was in Gyeongju, north of Busan. We stayed here for two nights in a traditional hanok house and took our time exploring the area. This city is considered one of the oldest in Korea and was once the capital of the ancient Silla kingdom. Because of this, a large number of historical sites can be found around the city, including the large burial mounds which are scattered throughout the area.
JUWANGSAN NATIONAL PARK
Soon we loaded up the car again for a short two hour drive to Juwangsan National Park. The park’s valleys are easy to hike and finish in around 2-3 hours and it is the smallest national park in Korea. The rocky walls of the mountains surround you as you go further into the park. We went on a weekday and it was cold and rainy. We bought some ponchos and decided to brave the weather. We were extremely pleased that we did as we only encountered 7 other people on the trails, unheard of in Korea!
Juwangsan is pretty far removed from any large cities, and even though you can find some accomodations nearby, we decided it would be best to move further north to Andong. We have visited Andong before and fell in love with it’s beauty and food. Andong Jjimdalk is our favorite Korean food and we were on a mission to eat it as many times as possible in the 24 hours we planned on being there. We decided it would be best to eat near the famous Hahoe Folk Village so we could take some more pictures of the area. If you would like to know more about Andong or see some of our photos and videos from our trip there last year, click here!
HIGH 1 SKI RESORT
After conquering Andong once again, we set our sights on Teabaek, just 30 minutes south of the High 1 Ski Resort. We couldn’t find any hotels online for booking so we set out hoping to be able to find a decent place to stay for the night before skiing the next morning. The first hotel we arrived at we deemed reasonable and spent the night. The next morning we drove the 30 minutes north to High 1. Once we arrived, we realized there were a lot of hotels around the resort that we could have stayed at if we had only pressed on. The good news though was that our lift tickets were 50% off since we are residents of Korea. Score! I finally got over my fear of skiing the “expert” slopes, and only fell once when I was standing still and joking around with Ryan! Not bad for only my fourth time.
SEORAKSAN NATIONAL PARK
Tired but happy, we finished skiing and started the 3 hour drive to Seoraksan National Park. Our plan was to spend two days in the area before making our way back down the coast towards home. We managed to book a “resortel” just outside of the park which had a kitchen, bedroom, and bath. The place was bigger than most of the apartments we’ve lived in here! We decided to cook most of our meals there since they provided all the supplies we needed for doing so. The first day was spent exploring the valleys below the park and taking pictures of the snow. On the second day, we headed into the park. We opted to take the cable car to the top of the mountain instead of hiking the icy and dangerous rocks. The ride only takes 3 minutes and the view from the top is quiet spectacular!
Driving south down the coast took forever. We had our sights set on Pohang, a small steel factory town just north of Ulsan. Unfortunately, the traffic from the holidays were clogging up the roads and we got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic just outside of Pohang. What should have been a thirty minute drive turned into an hour and a half. We didn’t know where to stay for the night, only that we wanted to make it out to Homigot Beach for the sunrise the next morning. We stayed at the Dokdo Hotel and made the 45 minute drive out to the beach the following day. We barely made it in time to catch the sun peaking up over the horizon! There are two giant hands at Homigot, one on the beach and the other across from it on the boardwalk. They are meant to symbolize harmony between land and sea. We then made one last stop in Busan for some foreign food and drinks before pressing on to Yeosu.
We will soon go into further detail about our trip in later posts to come, so be sure to check back!