3 day weekends mean venturing a bit and as we had not used the tent and all the groovy camping gear we purchased in the fall in about 6 months, the timing seemed appropriate for a trip to a far off island where we could rough it for a few nights. The island of choice this weekend was Heuksando which sits about 3 and a half hours by slow ferry west of Mokpo in the Yellow Sea. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, great hiking and massively windy roads that run up and down the mountains within the island.
Our trip began at 4am on Friday so we could catch the 5:20 bus to Mokpo which would land us at the ferry port with plenty of time to grab the 7:50 speedy ferry (or so we thought). The concept of traveling on long weekends if done right (see Chuseok in Seoul Blog) is excellent, but when travelling with the tide of locals, its retarded. The arriving at the terminal at 6:30am was far to late to catch the 7:50 speed ferry which had been all booked for some time, so with the help of a very friendly bilingual woman we were helped onto the slow ferry that departed at 7am. She also gave us hard boiled eggs because we were quite obviously looking malnourished at that time of the manana.
Ah yes, and so I neglected to mention that Olive was joining us on this venture as she happens to be a very big fan of the beach and her life has pretty much sucked the past few weeks being couped up inside all the time…hell, its really been that way a good part of the past year.
On the boat Olive made instant friends with the lil ones while Nicole and I caught some much needed sleep on the insanely uncomfortable ferry deck but we were on a boat and that was all that mattered.
The weather on the water was really foggy which made for a a surreal look to the waters around the ship and with the visibility at about 4 feet it was pretty funky but eventually the fog dispersed giving way to the island of Heuksando.
On arrival we hit up a local mart to pick up a few last minute supplies (i.e; food…because I may or may not have forgotten the entire cooler in the fridge in the midst of our packing frenzy).
The local cabbie we found recommended a spot about 20 minutes from the port called Sesguheysu which was a beautiful small secluded beach that had some camping facilities (a bathroom and wash sink). We paid the man $20 bucks which was a minor rip off, but for the roads we took to get there, walking would have ended badly so it was worth it.
The site was perfect. Even with the random tour groups that came through and gawked at Nicole in her bikini, we thoroughly enjoyed the day and the sunny weather.
Night brought on the storm that would continue for the next 2 days and although it spoiled the Saturday beach plans, our rain cover made chillin in the tent on a rainy beach about at peaceful as it gets. Eventually after our tent almost blew up due to the intense winds we manned-up and broke down camp and flagged down a tour bus to hitch a ride back to port in hopes of catching a boat home. I should mention that the wait for the tour bus was lengthy…part of the charm in camping out on a secluded beach.
The port was not surprisingly filled with a mass of travelers with the same plans of heading back to the mainland with the changing weather so getting a ticket was yet again, a negatory. Being as we had a day to give, we could afford to spend the night on the island so we snagged a room at a local hotel for $30 close to port. The town itself was actually really cool. After some kimchi ziggae soup at a restaurant nearby we packed it in and relaxed with some random Korean television in our room.
Sunday we awoke at about 6am to make our way to the terminal in hopes that there would be ferries running in the midst of the mini hurricane currently blowing its way over the island. Pretty cool marina along the way filled with some serious fishing rigs that seem to be the industrial mainstay for the locals.
We arrived to a closed terminal and were alerted by a nice korean dude that there were probably not going to be any ferries due to the weather but that we could chill in the maritime police station until the termial opened up. The local popo’s were super nice and let us chill in their office for about two hours offering us coffee, playing with Olive and making some calls to ensure that we knew the lastest ferry news.
At about 9am we finally got word that the ferry was going to to get to port by 11am and that tickets were available.
On the way back we rode the speedy ferry which was about a 2 hour ride and with the rolling waves, not one for the sea queezy types but we passed the time chatting with a very nice guy that worked for the South Korean Ministry of Labor.
One more bus ride from Mopko and we made it back by 3pm Sunday to conclude our weekend adventure. Although not exactly the picturesque experience we may have imagined, the random complications twists of our trip made it way more fun and another memory that we were stoked to make in our time here in Korea.
Check out the Heuksando pictures on the right for some more.
Thanks for reading!