Sunday, October 16, 2016

To Scenic Northeastern South Korea

Day 19.  Sept. 29
Our  breakfast was another eating adventure.  We had bibimbap (rice, egg, meat, vegetables such as green onion, cress, carrots, etc with sesame oil and soy sauce).  It was delicious.   We were picked up at 9 AM by our guide Chris Lee.  We loaded our luggage up and started driving to the northeast coast of Korea, an city called Sokcho. Korea is mountainous and verdant.  People can only live in the valleys between densely forested mountain chain that cover the entire country.  The highway system was modern, heavily trafficked and easy to drive due to the number of tunnels through the mountains.  Chris asked us to count the tunnels; 23 to the cross highway near to Sokcho! No ups and down, either elevated highways or tunnels to engineer the roads flat.   We stopped for coffee at a roadside cafe and shop which also featured huge phallic and erotic carvings. (Definitely NSFW.)

We arrived at our first destination which was Mt. Seorak National Park.   After we found a place to park amid the tour buses, we went to have lunch in a locally owned restaurant in the park, had a large pancake with squid and green onions made by a lady out in the open.  It was delicious.

Afterwards, we took a cable car up to see the Gwongeumseong peak.  When we got off the cable car it was a climb up stairways to the top which was all rock with a beautiful view.  It was very crowded with Chinese and local tourists;  that was to be our fate for the next few days.  

When we descended, we went to visit first a very large bronze Buddha which was very impressive and then went underneath the Buddha to a very nice temple.  From there we had a very nice walk for about an hour in the forests in the park with indigenous red pines and a lot of other flora.  It was very atmospheric.

We drove from there to the seashore and walked a bit on a pier and then to our hotel.  It was rather mediocre but clean.  Finding a restaurant nearby was difficult; we went first to a place that had Wagyu beef, but the minimum order was about a pound of meat which was expensive and more than we wanted to eat; Chris unsuccessfully tried to convince the owner to give us half an order but he refused.  So he found us another restaurant which was very local and had beef soup with the usual zillion side dishes included kimchi, radish, pepper paste, etc.  It was very nice and very cheap, but sitting on the floor was difficult for us old fogies; we didn’t do it again.

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