Korea Road Trip 2012
Tore off out of Seoul last weekend for another road trip. It’s becoming sort of an annual ritual. Last year we took an amazing road trip along the southern tip of the peninsula, from Yeosu all the way up to Busan. The year before that, we camped, drank and BBQ’d on beaches along the east coast.
Korea really has some amazing scenery. Only kicker is, you have to break free from the conveniences (clutches) of the city to revel in it. This year’s journey took us from Namhae to Suncheon and Gwangyang, and then up along the west coast.
Namhae really is a magical place. Still largely underdeveloped (for not, that is), the drive in grants scenes like the one below. It’s remote, rustic and relaxed. My kind of place.
On Saturday I picked up the car at Avis (190,000 KRW for two days, including insurance and GPS) at 5:30am and was on the road by 6am. Made it down to Namhae by 11ish, grabbed Min and then headed to first to the beautiful Suncheon Wild Teahouse, tucked up in the hills just off the road leading to the thousand-year-old Sunamsa Temple.
Here we were served tea the Korean way, keeping with the traditional practices of ‘tado‘, or ‘way of the tea. The little bite-sized nibbles that are served with the tea (a tasty melange of whole grain and honey) are delicious. I had to order seconds.
The teahouse was gorgeous, and the sleepy afternoon haze certainly hurt either. It was hard to uproot ourselves afterwards and get back on the road.
Next up was Suncheon Bay. Home to tons of migratory birds, the wetlands are incredibly scenic. A great vantage point is Yongsan Observatory. The 40min walk from the parking lot, through blowing reeds is actually pretty meditative, for lack of a better word.
I’ve heard so much about Suncheon but never had the chance to make it down. It’s a great sleepy little town with some beautiful surrounding landscape.
From there, we drove up to Gwangyang. The city is famous for its bulgogi (marinated beef) so naturally we had to have a try ourselves to see what all the fuss was about. It didn’t disappoint. The meat was phenomenally good.
The next morning, we made our way to Mohang Beach in Byeonsan National Park. It isn’t one of the better beaches I’ve been to in Korea – my favourite ones are just north of Pohang, along the east coast – but it was a great little pit stop to soak up some sun and nurse a couple beers.
An hour or so later, we heaved our rumps off the sand and plowed ahead to Boryeong to a feast of fist-sized scallops and other shell fish. Not a bad way to end the trip.
Boryeong is where the annual Mud Festival takes place. I was there not too long. Penned a piece for CNNGo in which I included all the details for those wanting to check it out. The beach is nice and wide, and the boardwalk is lined with some fantastic seafood restaurant.