First post of 2016. New year and new horizon(s). Speaking of which, this is just a short post featuring a few pics of the East Sea’s horizons, where the deep colors of the sea meet the open sky. This is a supplemental post to the previous post. I snapped this at this one port-ish area – our first break after departing from Sokcho beach. Happy New Year everyone!
Meant to finish this yesterday and post it up but suddenly had to pull a late-nighter at work. A day later than promised, my apologies, but thanks for coming by! Before I go into my story for Sokcho Beach, I’ll start off with a brief comment about my absence: an unofficial return from an unofficially announced hiatus. Actually, I don’t think there was much of an announcement at all. Seems like it’s been way too long since the last time I posted anything. To make it short, it’s been busy for the past few months with a new job and living arrangement. I might make a separate short post about it on my Google+ or something. Anyway, I feel like I’ve more or less settled into a routine which finally allows me the flexibility to edit photos properly. But more importantly, return to blogging. I’ll start from where I left off from my previous post.
Express Bus Terminal
Half the squad left the CULLA Guesthouse first because their bus was leaving earlier than ours. We took our time to get ready and headed out about an hour later. We rode our bikes up and down the hills of Apgujeong and headed west towards Express Bus Terminal. As I had mentioned in my previous post, so glad we decided to come down the night before and stay at a place close to the terminal. Our bus tickets were reserved online via kobus.co.kr several days in advance. This is a necessity because transportation tickets always get sold out for the Chuseok holiday. At our bus platform, we had to ready ourselves to load our bikes onto the bus’s undercarriage compartment quickly – these buses move in and out of the platform in about a 15 minute timeframe.
In case you were wondering, intercity buses do allow you to bring your bicycles along. They request you remove the front wheel before you load it into the luggage compartment underneath the bus. This allows you to turn the handlebars parallel to the bike frame. Otherwise, there’s a good chance your handle bars will get stuck on the grippy rubber mat laid across the floor of the storage area, impeding an already rushed loading situation. If you were also planning on making this trip, select Dongbu Terminal as your destination as there is no ‘Sokcho Beach’ arrival option.
Our bus came and we quickly threw our disassembled bikes under the bus. We sat in the back seats which gave us plenty of room to stretch out our legs. The ride all the way to the east coast was going to take a few hours, especially since the outbound holiday traffic was super backed up. Along the way I took a few photos through the window of the misty fog rolling through the mountains. If it had been a little more clear, I think Seoraksan would have been visible.
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally arrived at the Dongbu Bus Terminal in Sokcho. Some of us got off at this stop. Mike and Stephen had arrived not too long before we did. Seemed like a few other foreigners had the same idea as us – there were small clusters of them on bikes with backpacks and decked out panniers. One of the bikes ran into a small malfunction upon departure, the chain had somehow separated from the gears. I surmise it probably happened when we unloaded the bikes. After a quick readjustment, we headed towards Sokcho Beach.
Although we had finally arrived at our first destination, exploring was far from anyone’s mind. Satisfying hunger came first. Unfortunately, the food options around Sokcho Beach were a bit lacking, both in number of locations and cuisine diversity (they all served seafood). After grumbling about the limited selection of restaurants, we compromised for one of the spots nearby. Some initial miscommunication with the order taker aside, we finally received our hard sought after sustenance and silently scarfed it down like starved stowaways. The beach seemed too nice to depart from so soon. We weren’t in a hurry and there wasn’t a set schedule, so we decided to stick around and explore, which in my context meant taking tons of pictures. But first, we needed our coffee fix. During our earlier hunt for food, we can come across this quaint coffee shop down the road called Cafe Leto (카페레토) so we decided to head back there. You can find it here.
The coffee shop had a classic woody interior with lots of vintage knick-knacks decorating the place. Opposite the store front was a fantastic panorama of the ocean. We relaxed and chit-chatted while I immersed myself in paparazzi/wanna-be photo-journalist mode.
Back in September, a friend of mine, Stephen, invited me to join him on biking trip during the Chuseok holiday. We assembled a small team for said trip. I’ll go more into the details of the biking portion in a later post. To make the most use out of our time during Chuseok break, we all decided to get bus tickets that left early Saturday morning. Those buses would be leaving from Express Bus Terminal. Upon further consideration, I realized that leaving from Suyu with bags and a bike along with a few other members would make it an exhaustive ordeal to reach the bus terminal in time – the major issue being waking up at the crack of dawn. Waking up early and going through all that strenuous traversing didn’t sit with me too well. I came to the conclusion, it’d be much more efficient to take everything down after work and spend Friday night somewhere south of the Han River. That way, we could all get up at a reasonable hour and not kill ourselves making it to the bus terminal in time. I had always wanted to try using Airbnb and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. This led me to Culla Guesthouse.
The stay at Suanbo dragged into another week of mind-numbing busy work. We passed the days typing away lesson plans and the evenings were spent drinking and playing games. There was nothing else to do and nowhere we could go. Once in a while that’s fine but day after day it starts to get old real quick. I was looking forward to the weekend and to checking out a few more of the landmarks around Chungju that we had missed the week before. Friday came and brought along with it a gloomy friend. Hello, rain. It kept pouring all day and it looked like it would continue through the weekend, dampening my spirits of freedom and adventure.
Back in late May, there was a singular incident of a man who was identified with MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. It spread to a few others in the same hospital and unfortunately there were a few deaths. The media then picked this up and blew it up to epic proportions, throwing the entire country into a panic and making it seem like it was a fatal pandemic taking over Seoul. People were wearing masks and it was paranoia to the utmost levels – the slightest cough on the subway got everyone giving you the evil stank eye. The government had to respond, of course. They started setting up potential quarantine facilities, one of which was where I worked. I work at a government established but privately run English education institute. There were rumors going around the office at first, but then we got the official confirm that we all had to evacuate and be relocated to a place I’ve never heard of, Suanbo.