Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Over the short three day midweek holiday of Chuseok, I traveled with a group of ten friends to the "mysterious" island known as Ullenugdo. Located 75 miles into the Sea of Japan East Sea, the island is famous for cliff side landscapes and dried squid. Due to recent drastic dietary changes I would only be able to enjoy one of the above. However that wouldn't stop me from enjoying this island that had been hyped up from every Korean who knew I was going. According to my students Ulleungdo is a combination of Mecca and Disneyland. A nationalist paradise/ultimate vacation location.

We shipped out early Tuesday morning for a four hour hydrofoil journey. The boat was packed full of families traveling for the holiday. The floor space was jammed full of people who had set up camp and were laying on the floor. At first I mocked the Korean tendency to set up camp but then as I grew more and more seasick, laying on the floor seemed like a good idea. Eventuality I slid off my chair and onto the floor, enjoying the rest of the trip from the comfort of a good nap.

After a four hour boat ride we spied the so-called mysterious island, where we were hustled into a expensive restaurant and ate some unhygienic food. This turned out to be a theme throughout the trip. We were then rounded up onto another boat for a trip around the island by our inept tour company. Another theme of the trip. The second boat ride of the day revealed the craggy coastline of the island. It was quite beautiful, I think. To tell the truth I was distracted from the scenery by approximately fifty birds swooping over my head. The brochure for the boat trip mentioned two great activities, taking pictures and feeding native wildlife. Also known as seagulls. I wish I could read Korean so I would have been prepared for this bombardment of animals and excrement. I confess, the whole thing was slightly exciting in a Hitchcockian manner but it grew old fast.
EunGyung, Your not helping!

And that was the highlight of my trip.

Only half joking. We were lead to our tiny minbak (five people to a room and floor beds) with no food and no entertainment. We were on our own with only thousands of tiny fleas to keep us company.

Wednesday was a 24 hour downpour and a public holiday. We walked 40 minutes over the hill and back into port only to find everything was closed. We feasted like convenience store kings that day, playing monopoly and watching the rain. Not quite the tropical island experience I fantasized about. Luckily I had a bunch of great friends to pass the time with.

We woke up on Thursday to sunny skies. The island had been transformed into something worth our time. After emerging like my students from a PC room, we stepped out into the fresh air and decided to take a hike around the coastline.
It was undoubtedly my favorite Korean hike with jagged rocks complemented by some of the bluest water I have ever seen.

Of course we only had time for short hike and then we where dragged out to catch the ferry back to Daegu. In the end I spent a three days and a good deal of money for a three hour hike.

Very few foreigners make it out to Ulleungdo. I think the island could be a worthwhile destination if the weather agrees with you. Also a last word of warning, the weather is volatile and there are only two ferries to the island everyday. Don't be surprised if you are forced spend another night on the island. We almost had to miss a day of work. I was a shame we didn't end up spending one more day on the island, with the sunny weather it would have been nice. It was a unlucky trip all around.

Sorry about the months in between posting everyone! I have a recent glut of free time and I promise to write more.


  1. I think it was worth it just for the gorgeous photo of the rugged coast! Face it, Korea just isn't for tourists (of this I know). Taking photos and feeding wildlife - those are the two things I want most from a vacation (actually, taking photos is pretty high on my list of activities).
    Thank goodness for friends, right?

  2. new travel article lists Korea as an up and coming travel star...

  3. You'll have to "blog" about your trip home soon!!!