I stayed the night at Kim’s Cabin, chosen partly because of it’s name, a guesthouse a couple of miles from the port where I returned from Udo island. A lot of people i’ve met have been amazed to meet an English Kim in Korea, where something like 50% of the population have it as their surname. Although I regretted not camping now the weather had improved it gave me the chance to dry out all my still half-wet gear. Like where I stayed two nights ago, I was the only guest. Having spent much of the last 5 months or so in dormitory rooms with 6 to 10 other people it’s still a luxury to get a night alone.
In the morning I headed to Seongsan Ilculbong Peak, a tuff cone rising from the sea like a volcano with the top cut off and grass inside. Apparently it’s best at sunrise, but when I did the maths and realised i’d need to be up before 5 to make it in time I abandoned that idea. Instead I arrived at around 10.30, along with literally everyone else.
Expecting a quiet spot full of natural wonder, instead the approach had both a Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, rows of souvenir shops and hot dog stands. The whole trail was packed. I saw more selfies being taken than I have up to this point in my life so far. Everything was being photographed but very little was being looked at. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t being experienced, photography seems like a big part of culture here, but it was a little too much and made it hard to enjoy the place on my own terms. I climbed to the top, but came back down soon after and got away as quick as I could. On reflection I think it’s one of those things best seen from a distance,
I carried on around the coast, keeping up a fast pace and stopping rarely, enjoying the good weather and easy riding. The shoreline was rugged and windswept and reminded me of Iceland, but less bleak now. To the right of the road were many industrial looking buildings, often painted bright colours or decorated with fish and divers and underwater scenes to distract from their functional ugliness. Occasionally there was a light house or evidence of the fishing which took place around the island.
I passed a museum of film, shaped like a huge camera, with plastic dinosaurs and other theme park stuff near by. It felt like a little slice of roadside Americana in Korea. Palm trees where becoming a feature of the landscape and I could now start to see where the Hawaii comparisons could come from.
I stopped at Pyoseon beach, and later at Soesoggak, a popular cove, where I bought a special type of orange juice produced on the island. I was starting to lag and the orange juice and the doughnut and the coffee I bought carried me the next 10 miles.
After Soesoggak the road became narrower, quieter, and right on the edge of the coast. It was beautiful. Seopsum came into focus around the corner and I stopped at a viewpoint. It’s an uninhabited island about 4km from the coast, and home to 180 different types of plant, according to the information board. I wanted to stop here but continued another two miles to JeongBang waterfall, the only waterfall in Korea which falls directly into the sea apparently. It was exactly the opposite of this morning – quiet, peaceful, just one woman in a red top looking out to sea where a cabin appeared to be floating on the horizon.
I decided I’d camp back at the viewpoint earlier. It was a quiet spot, with a view of the island, no wind at all. It would mean more riding more than I planned tomorrow but it would be worth it. I waited until it was almost dark to put my tent up, I bought ramen, ice-cream, biscuits, crisps and a beer from a cafe below and realised probably the only thing I don’t like about travelling like this is worrying about what, where and how i’m going to get my dinner every night. It was good not to worry tonight and just enjoy the view I had to myself.
I drank my beer and waited for the sun to set.