How was your 4th of July? Did you get to celebrate with a good ol’ cookout? Take in the local fireworks display? We hope it was possibly your best one yet!
We didn’t do a typical Independence Day celebration this year, but then again are we ever doing the typical over here? Nah… But boy did I miss me some grilled cheeseburgers, bratwurst, and fresh corn on the cob, oh and our families too! Thursday evening right after work we grabbed some snacks and hit the road south to meet up with our friends at a ferry port. We purchased ferry tickets to visit the island of Ulleungdo and Dokdo. These islands are located off the coast of Korea have been on my bucket list since moving abroad. Yippee I get to now cross them off! I love getting to cross things off my list!
Friday morning we woke up early, ate our Korean breakfast consisting of a rice porridge, kimchi, fresh tomatoes, and coffee. Lol…of course we tried it, but as you know there are just something’s you can never shake…mine is an American style breakfast. I opted for yogurt, a banana, and coffee.
We boarded the ferry that took us 3 1/2 hours to reach the island of Ulleungdo. Here is a link to see more about the island. http://wikitravel.org/en/Ulleungdo
Grab the Google map coordinates HERE.
The island was absolutely beautiful! We loved how preserved and untapped it still is! There is hardly any industry, except for tourist and fishing. However even with the tourist there isn’t a ton of large luxury hotels eating up the land. The water was so clean, so blue, the air was so fresh, and the land was so lush and so green! I really had to keep pinching myself to remind myself that we were still in Korea. It was just that breathtaking.
Just check out the views from our hotel!
^We ate this yogurt every morning during our stay at the hotel. There wasn’t any western style breakfast so this did the trick for about half of an hour. LOL!
We rented a large passenger van and cruised around the one main “highway” stopping off at all the little must see marks on the map from our car rental guy. It’s really easy to travel to all the locations, park, and walk. You honestly could do the island in one day if you rushed it, but we took our time, plus we had the entire weekend.
The guys got in some dives and were really excited about the clarity of the water and just how much sea life there was. Mr. B is already putting together a fun dive trip for the 38th Parallel divers. Something to stay tuned in for.
One morning we took another ferry, another hour and 40 minutes to Dokdo island. Here is the link http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264142 . The really awesome history about Dokdo is that Korea is constantly fighting with Japan over it, and still is. Japan has even wrote in history books that they teach their children that the island is theirs.. But Korea unfairly took it….but it’s not the case, and they found historical documents showing otherwise. While it is rather close to Japan, Japan would love to have it for the fishing rights. It’s pretty interesting. Oh and Korea has one resident living on the island. Also Korea is manning the island with stationed Korean police.
The ferry ride seemed much longer because we ended up cruising over two fishing nets that got wrapped up inside of the propellers. Oops. They did a number on the boat because it delayed our trip significantly. In the end they couldn’t cut away all of it and decided they needed to service it once we docked back on Ulleungdo. I felt sorry for the group leaving Ulleungdo that night that was scheduled on that very boat.
I think the a-ha moment was when someone decided to take a smoke break in the restrooms and the smoke detectors went off. I just sat looking up waited for the overhead sprinklers to kick on, luckily they didn’t. I’m not sure where the disconnect was with the passenger and all the signs posted in Korean not to smoke, smoke free vessel, etc. Eh…. I guess sometimes the struggle is that real.
We were nervous because the day we took the ferry to Dokdo island the waves were larger and there was the possibility we wouldn’t be able to dock on the island to get our chance to set foot on it. Thankfully we were able to dock and had some time to snap a few photos. It was really neat!
We met an older Korean gentleman, actually two different ones. Both such characters absolutely worth notating for future memories. The one worked on the ferry and kept a personal log book of guest he’s spoke with, said hello, blessed. He insisted we sign his log book and that we tell him where we were from in the states, after responding he proceeded to give us many thumbs up. We felt loved nonetheless. The other character sought us out while in line awaiting to board the boat back to mainland Korea. He handed us his business card and stayed he wanted us to return back to the island in August for a 5k that we could run or walk, all expenses paid. This man meant business and stood there wanting confirmation with guarantee we were coming. Sweet man. He then pulled us out of line insisting we get a photo with him in front of the boat, again posing with the thumbs up. Lol, I see a pattern here… So we got the photo, he seemed happy, but then later pulled just the two men out for a photo. It was harmless, but the joke was that our faces were now going to be on some Korean noodle restaurant sign that endorses just how delicious the noodles are. Do us a favor and keep your eyes peeled for us if ever in Korea. So that wasn’t the last of him, once on the boat he then purchased us all cold canned coffees and passed them out to our group. Too kind!
Fortunately and unfortunately, MERS the Middle East respiratory syndrome, has really made a dent in the tourism for Korea. Its made for some pretty fantastic advantages for travelers such as less people and discounted prices at some attractions. Almost all the attractions on the island were empty and we almost always had a discounted price.
The entire time we were on the island we ate what the locals ate, mostly seafood. Honghapbap-mussels with steamed rice, haemulcheon- seafood/green onion fried pancakes, sanchae bibimbap, ojing-eo bulgogi -squid grilled at the table with vegetables and hot pepper sauce. We tried the local flower shrimp, chicken shrimp, tiger beef, and frequented and befriended a local coffee shop.
The shrimp was out of this world! We were blown away by the taste and the fact they were only boiled. No old bay seasoning here folks. We would have ate sooooo much more, probably our weight in shrimp, but at 80,000 won a kilo…. Eek…bit pricey.
The tiger beef was outstanding as well! Again pricey coming out at 100,000 won per couple, we had three couples. But where else are you going to get to sink your teeth into a local delicacy like the island tiger beef? Nowhere but Ulleungdo so you just have to do it once.
The coffee shop was fantastic! The owner so nice and had excellent taste with his quality of bean choice. We highly recommend getting a nice treat there after a meal. Try the waffle, trust us it will not disappoint!
All and all the trip was wonderful and getting to pal around on the island with some good friends made the trip that much more! So if you find yourself needing to get away from Korea without getting to far away, check out the mysterious island of Ulleungdo.
More helpful information about traveling to Ulleungdo Island:
Our Hotel Information:
Ulleung Daea Resort