Korea Summer Road Trip | July 2011
Was glad to get out of Seoul these last four days. Thankfully the weather in the south was pretty damn favourable.
I’ve taken a few road trips across Korea already. Last year we drove National Road 7 down the east coast, and this May we drove all along the southern coast, taking in Hallyeohaesang Marine Park, Namhae, Yeosu, Goeje and Busan.
This summer we decided to head southwest to Jeung-do.
Avis had some kind of promotion on this month so we were able to rent a 2011 Hyundai Tucson for four days for under 400,000, insurance and GPS included. A steal, really. In hindsight, given all the driving we did off-road, it was the best way to go.
On the drive down we stopped in Yeonggwang for lunch. Yeonggwang is famous for its gulbi, or dried yellow corvina, which is considered a prized delicacy and can fetch as much as 100,000 won for a bunch (you often see them bundled up like this around markets).
The fish spend the winters in the warmer parts, off Jeju Island, and then swim up the west coast to spawn. By the time they reach Yeonggwang, they’re at their largest and are filled with roe. That’d be why when you drive through the little town the roads are flanked with tons of restaurants selling the stuff.
Anyhow, we ordered gulbi jeongsik (40,000 won) which was fantastic. The grilled gulbi is served with all kinds of side dishes, including spicy gulbi soup and salad, together with lots of other Jeollanam-do specialties like hongeosamhab (skate wrapped in lettuce) and ganjang gaejang (raw crab marinated in soy sauce).
Jeung-do is a beautiful coastal town in Jeollanam-do’s Sinan region, just under an hour outside of Gwangju. The plan had been to check out Wando (after reading this awesome article), but a friend strongly recommended Jeung-do in the end. The island is home to Ujeon Beach, a 4km stretch of white sand, which is considered to be one of Korea’s best beaches so we pitched a tent about fifty yards from the shoreline.
Ujeon Beach is fantastic. The water isn’t all that clear, but it’s a great beach nonetheless.
After two nights of utter relaxation we drove to nearby Damyang to visit the bamboo forest (a welcome relief from the scorching weather), beautiful Baekyangsa that sits in an incredible national park, the idyllic Soswaewon Garden, and finally Samjicheon Village (slow city).
Later Saturday night we ate dinner at Juklimwon Garden (죽림원가든), a great little restaurant that’s situated right inside a bamboo forest. The meal included an assortment of banchan, or traditional Korean side dishes that were served in bamboo shoots.
On the drive back we stopped off in Jeonju’s Hanok Village for some bibimbap.