Another long weekend, this time in honor of Buddha’s birthday.
David and I took a 5 hour train to the east coast of Korea to a small city (population of 100,000) called Donghae which sits right on the east sea. We actually apartment swapped with the couple we met in Busan (through couch surfing) and it was great to have a 2 bedroom apartment in the middle of this city all to ourselves.
There isn’t heaps to do in Donghae, but enough for a weekend. The highlight is the caves that were only discovered in the 90’s and are located smack in the center of the city, about a 5 minute walk from where we were staying. It was my first time inside the caves and it was quite wet and not very interesting. After the caves we checked out Mansang beach which is another main attraction and one of the main reasons I came out to the east.. I really miss being near beaches and water! This beach was pretty big but still too cold to get in the water so we rented an ATV and had quite a bit of fun with that.
I believe we were the only foreigners in this city which got us quite a few stares which we are totally used to at this point. But being Koreans, they were never rude about it. We headed to a Korean restaurant where everything was in Korean (as always) but this time, none of the dishes were familiar so it was pretty much Russian roulette and we ended up with 2 kinds of soups that we had never tried before. I guess it’s the only way to really experience cultural cuisine.
Ullendo is an island located halfway between Japan and Korea in the East sea. The only access is through a ferry that runs from Donghae harbour so it was the plan for Sunday. But being a long weekend and Sunday AND foreigners, we were lost in translation about departure times and missed the boat. So instead, we ended up at Mureung Valley which was incredible! We did a short hike to the first waterfall, Twin falls and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. There is also a Buddhist temple at the base of the valley and being Buddha’s birthday, it was decorated gorgeously with colorful lotus lanterns. I was actually glad I missed the boat because otherwise, I would have missed out on this amazing site.
It was definitely a relaxing getaway, to be away from chaotic Seoul that never sleeps. The scenery on the ride back was also very breath-taking – very green with rolling hills and mountains and endless amounts of rice fields. I absolutely adore rural Korea and more people really need to get out of the city and see more of it.