11th August 2009

South Korea (part 2/3)

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After five, fairly relaxed days in Seoul we went around the country a little bit. Travelling started to be a bit more challenging because of the language. We didn’t see many foreigners outside the capital and didn’t find many people speaking English, but people were always trying to help. Even too much sometimes, and it looked like playing “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”. If we asked for a direction and they didn’t know it, they might turn the map upside down few times, only eliminating the obviously wrong directions (1st Joker: that’s the fifty-fifty). It’s embarrassing at that stage to tell them we’ll do with someone else. Most often, they will ask everybody around them (2nd Joker: that’s “ask the public”), and occasionally they will call a friend (3rd Joker) who speaks English and might know where you need to go. Finally, they give up only once all of their jokers have been spent …

First we headed south to Kohyo, where we got our first experience of a Korean “zimzilbang”. Zimzilbang is a place with different kind of saunas with variable temperatures. There was no Finnish sauna on this place, but we heard in Seoul you can find at least one. In Kohyo there was beautiful round sauna rooms, which looked like igloos, built with colourful (pink, white and grey) rocks. Inside people lay on top of different shaped little rocks, and dig themselves under them. The stones were so hot we could barely touch them. On top of saunas there were rooms to relax in, and also hot and cool pools. People wear T-shirt and shorts, so everyone can share the same saunas. Zimzilbangs also have rooms where people can sleep over night on the floor for only few euros. Of course we had to try this once. Chris was less lucky as the men’s side was full of people, many snoring or talking loud. For Netta it was fine, as there was only few women and the area to sleep in was much nicer. But the floor was hard, as we are not used to sleep on the floor, so we didn’t rest that well. But the experience was very interesting.
By the way, if anyone happens to visit a zimzilbang, it’s good to know that you should bring your own shampoo and soap (which was not the case in Japanese onsens) plus washing equipment. We were lost how to do when we arrived to the washing rooms. Netta was kindly helped by a local girl, who gave her a tooth brush (people washed teeth also under the shower), and a washing sponge. She was too polite to refuse and really really hopes the toothbrush was an unused one …

We had gone to Kohyo, because we wanted to get a ferry to Oedo island, an island trasformed into a botanical garden. But once in Kohyo, we found out that there is still two more busses to take to get to the correct ferry. After quite some time we ended up at the south end of Geoje island, and stayed over night in a nice, small fishing village. Cheap, delicious fresh fish for dinner. Great! From there we finally got the ferry to go to Oedo island and around the Hallyo National Park rocks.

   
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We found it a bit hard to get information on which places in Korea would be the nicest ones to see. On the basis of the tips we got and pictures we saw we picked some national parks etc. First one, Jirisan national park was a miss, because it took quite long to get there, and once there, we realized there was not much to see, unless hiking for two days. The weather was rainy, the hike would have been very hard, plus we would have had to book a place for the night on a mountain hut via internet (in Korean, and we didn’t know which page) so we gave up, and after a night in a lost, old hotel, we took off. Next two places, Haeinsan temple, and Andong traditional village are famous in Korea and worth seeing. It was easy to get a ride from friendly locals to the next place if we missed a bus and had to wait for a long time.

   
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Last place before returning to Seoul was Danyang. It is a little town with nice views, built by a river facing the mountains. We were really happy to finally get to do a hike in Korea. It took us about 7 hours to climb up and down the Sobaeksan mountain. Danyang also has a long limestone cave, with stalactites and all sort of things.

   
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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 at 22:12 and is filed under in English please !, news, voyages, worldtrip'09. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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