Ah, Busan. The last time I visited this city to the south was in October 2011, and now I was back again. The first time, I was sick and this time, my legs were aching with every twitch I made. I never had anything against the many stairs that Korea likes providing me with until now. Either way, when we arrived in Busan after our epic mountain hiking adventure in Jeju, we went straight to our hostel by the name of Indy House and settled down.
The next morning, we all woke up feeling as if we were put in a meat grinder and spit back out. It was going to be a fairly low key day, but I still forced them to pick some place to visit – we finally settled on Beomeosa – Busan’s famous temple. I had visited Busan’s Yonggungsa, which is a beautiful temple located by the sea, last time, but never got the chance to visit this temple. Before that, though, we stopped for some ice cream at Baskin Robbins (note: the American branches fails spectacularly when I compare it to the Korean ones).
And so begins our last day in Jeju and it was going to be a busy one of epic proportions. We had to (1) hike up and down the 18.2 kilometer/11.3 mile round trip Seongpanak Trail, (2) go back to the hostel to pay and pick up our luggage, (3) head to the rental car place to return the car, and (4) get to the airport to catch our plane to Busan.
Let us begin!
I had a late night my first night in Jeju, because I had originally planned to do the 8-hour hike up and down Halla-san (the big volcanic mountain in the middle of Jeju Island) but not everyone agreed. In the end, I ended up moving Halla-san to our third and last day of the trip and making the second day a full day tour of the island. …And off we went!
We finally made it to Mokpo at night after a 3-hour bus ride to Daejeon from Gangneung and another 2.5 hour KTX ride from Daejeon to Mokpo.
After I asked for directions from a group of young (who looked to be) police officers, my friends and I strolled down the street from the train station where we encountered a very brightly lit street. This was also when an older man from the group of officers before passed by and told us to follow him; he lived near the ferry so he would walk us there himself. Ah, Koreans are awesome (for the most part, at least – you have bad apples everywhere). I had originally planned for us to stay at a jjimjilbang so my friends can experience the jjimjilbang’s awesomeness, but take note that there are no jjimjilbangs by the ferry, as our spontaneous guide told us, so he set us up at a decent motel owned by a friend that was located just up the street from the ferry – just 50,000 won for a room.
Onto our fourth day of the tour and our last day in Seoul for the time being. We headed to the East Seoul Terminal and boarded a bus bound for Sokcho, which arrived in a little less than 3 hours. It was most awesome: a bus driver saw our tickets and said it was okay to take his bus and so we left earlier than our ticket. Although we were slightly worried it wasn’t legit, it was. He got us there and other than a little scare when two of my friends found out they left some of their stuff on the bus (a sweater and an iPhone), we were safe… and just in time for lunch!
The city of Sokcho has a small town feel with the cutest English motto the uses the word “fresh” and “Sokcho” – Fresh Sokcho, indeed. We stayed at The House Hostel, which is pretty close to the bus terminal. I loved it’s home-like atmosphere and it’s obviously well loved, with all the notes everywhere from past travelers.