My solo trip I mentioned in this post has come and gone! From November 9 to 13, I was in Gangwon-do Sokcho (강원도 속초) area. I had a blast, and I really enjoyed my solace. I also learned a lot on this trip, which I’ll post about in a separate post. This post showcases all that I’ve done in Sokcho, and it is full of photos. Enjoy reading about my adventures in Sokcho!
Day 0: Being a Horribly Heavy Packer!
I spent the first two days of my vacation packing. I totally failed in packing light, but part of it was because I didn’t want to do laundry while I was gone for those four nights and five days in Sokcho! So I had to make sure I packed enough clothes for the duration of my trip. So all my clothes went into the brown floral weekender bag, my skincare and other hygiene products went into the black floral cosmetic bag, my Chromebook and other electronic doodads went into my backpack, and all my other necessities like wallet, tissue, and so on went into my crossbody bag. The two floral bags are from Thirty-One, and the backpack and crossbody bag are from Monopoly. I actually bought the crossbody bag for this trip, and I’m super glad I did because for reasons below . . .
Day 1: Being Acquainted with Sokcho!
I took the express bus to Sokcho city (속초시), which cost about 18,100 won ($17.00 USD). The ride took about three hours, and when I got to Sokcho, I took the local bus to the village outside of the city called Bongpori (봉포리). That bus ride took about 20 minutes. I almost missed my stop, though, because what they announced on the bus was different from the routes I saw on Naver Map. But I got off at the right stop and walked one minute to my pension hotel.
I chose to stay at Seasketch Pension (바다그리기 펜션), and I found them on AirBnB! For four nights and five day, it only cost me $116.00 USD. Such a wonderful room and place! It was clean and comfortable, the size was perfect, and its location was convenient. The nearest bus stop and convenience store was a minute away, and the beach was two minutes away! I ended up using my room a lot because it rained every day of my trip. Thankfully, my room had excellent wi-fi, so I had my Chromebook to keep me company!
After I settled and unpacked in my lovely room, I went exploring around the neighbourhood. My first stop was Bongpo Beach (봉포해수욕장), and I love its proximity to my pension hotel. I enjoyed watching and listening to the waves. Afterwards, I went looking for Cafe A to Z, an independent cafe located seven minutes away from my pension hotel. It’s right across the street from the sea, so visitors have a great view of the sea. My first visit there had me getting an iced vanilla latte for 5,000 won ($4.50 USD).
I left the cafe and walked around some more before it grew too cold. I went back to my room to grab my jacket, and I went back out looking for a place to eat. I decided to have some kimchi jjigae at Gajeongsik Baekban (가정식 백반), which cost 7,000 won ($6.50 USD). It seemed quite popular with the locals; there were a bunch of ahjummas drinking and having a blast. Then I returned to my room for the night after a quick stop at the convenience store.
Day 2: Being a Mountain Goat at Seoraksan!
When I woke up on Tuesday, I saw that it wasn’t raining! My host gave me a ride to a bus stop, so I could take a bus to Seoraksan (설악산). Before we reached the bus stop, he stopped by this beach, and I admired it’s prettiness with the sunshine. And here’s the only photo taken of me on the entire trip, taken by my host!
Off to Seoraksan, I went! The bus ride was a long one, taking about 45 minutes. Admission into the park was 3,500 won ($3.00 USD), and then I decided to go to Gwongeumseong Fortress (권금성) by the cable car. The round-trip ticket cost 10,000 won ($9.50 USD), and when I reached the cable car station at the top, I had to climb up a bit to reach the “fortress”. I learned then that I was not meant to be a mountain goat. All these other people were going up without any problems, and here I was afraid that I’d slip and fall off the mountain or something. Eventually, I made it to the “fortress”, and the view was simply breathtaking. I stood on a ledge and made a mistake of looking down. Eek! I stayed there for about fifteen minutes, and then I had to go back down to the cable car station. Going down was not any easier than going up, by the way.
My next goal was to reach Sinheungsa Temple (신흥사). Thankfully the “trail” there was flat and not dangerous for me, so I could relax a bit on this walk! Before reaching the actual temple, I saw the huge bronze Buddha statue. I continued my walk towards the temple, enjoying the scenery and the nice, clean mountain air.
My final goal at Seoraksan was to go to Biryong Falls (비룡폭포), but it wasn’t accessible on the weekdays because of some construction project. However, I could reach Yukdam Falls (육담폭포), located before Biryong Falls, so I headed there next. The first part of the walk was easy. Then I encountered the rocky, uneven, dangerous “stairs”. Once again, I learned that I wasn’t a !@#$%!@#$% mountain goat. I climbed as far as I could before I couldn’t take it any longer. I reached a “fall” with a suspension bridge. No idea if it was Yukdam Falls or not, but I’d had enough! Going back down, I had my first and only fall. I slipped and fell right on my butt, but it was a soft landing, luckily. Not injured, I headed back to the main entrance, and I caught the bus back to Bongpori.
To reward myself, I went and ate some donkkaseu (Korean-style pork cutlet) at Sanmo Tungee (산모퉁이) for 8,000 won ($7.50 USD). I devoured that meal because I hadn’t eaten anything all day except some coffee. After that satisfying meal, I returned to my room. Completely knackered, I stayed in my room the rest of the day. Good thing I did because it started raining again. For dinner, I ordered in a pizza (which was super nasty, by the way), and I received a package of “tajun” sauce. I had a good laugh with that!
Day 3: Being a K-Drama Fan with Some Retail Therapy!
One of my plans for Wednesday involved going to Sokcho city to visit Abai Maeul (아바이마을). Honestly, I’m not a K-Drama fan, but I did watch Autumn in My Heart (가을동화) and liked it as a teen, so I decided to check out one of its filming locations. I went into the city on the local bus, got off at the intercity bus terminal, and walked about twenty minutes to the Gaet Bae (갯배) place. Gaet Bae was a weird little boat where we had to “pull” ourselves to the other side for a small fee of 200 won ($0.15 USD).
It was so windy and rainy there, that I couldn’t really walk around much. While there, I decided to have brunch at Sindasin (신다신) restaurant. I ordered some naengmyeon for 8,000 won ($7.50 USD). I was hoping the rain would stop while I eat, but that didn’t happened. Instead, I took a couple more photos and then I went back on the Gaet Bae.
From Abai Maeul, the Sokcho Tourist and Fishery Market (속초관광수산시장), formerly known as Sokcho Jungang Market (속초중앙시장), was super close by! Only about three minutes away, in the middle of “Rodeo Street”. In the market, I went inside the “food alley”, looking for some dried vegetables for my mum. I found them, and I bought some of these “gourmet” vegetable chips for myself and for my pension hotel host. Mission complete, I decided to return back to Bongpori on the local bus.
After stopping by my pension hotel, I returned to Cafe A to Z and had me a glass of mint chocolate smoothie for 4,500 won ($4.00 USD). I stayed there for a couple of hours with my Chromebook. When I grew tired of doing that, I walked to the northern part of Cheonjin Beach (천진해수욕장), and I walked along the coast back to Bongpo Beach. It was still raining then, and all my bags were wet, but thank goodness for them being somewhat waterproof! Before I returned to my room, I stopped by Gyeongdong Banjum (경동반점), a Korean-Chinese restaurant, and I had some fried rice for 6,000 won ($5.50 USD). Then I spent the rest of my evening watching The Lord of the Ring: The Return of the King, which I’d borrowed from my host.
Day 4: Being a Determined Coastal Explorer!
Today was a day I really had no plans, so I asked my host what he suggested I go see. He suggested the Sokcho Lighthouse Observatory (속초등대전망대), so I went back into the city on the bus. I had to walk a bit to reach the observatory. On my way, I became sidetracked by the Yeonggeumjeong Pavilion (영금정). I spent a while there taking some photos — a very difficult feat since it was still raining!
I finished up the photo shoot at Yeonggeumjeong Pavilion, and I made it to the base of the observatory. I stopped and stared at the stairs that would take me up to the observatory. I admit, those stairs made me very faint, but my stubbornness kicked in, and I climbed up. With difficulty. I was halfway to the top before realising that the view was going to be crap due to the weather. Resigning to my fate of completing my mission, I made it up to the top, and I did see that the view was horrid. Going back down on the stairs was just as difficult because I was afraid I’d slip and have a nasty tumble down the stairs . . . I crept down very, very slowly.
I left the menacing stairs behind me, and I decided at that moment to take a bus and travel up north near Goseong-guncheong (고성군청), which is the farthest north I’ve ever gone in South Korea. I got off at Gajin Harbour (가진항), explored there for a bit, and discovered their bathrooms there were the squatting kind. After, I walked south, looking for a bus stop back to Bongpori, which turned out to be quite a walk! At this point, I grew kind of nervous about never reaching a bus stop. With the rain still pounding on me, I walked — with a whole lot of determination — until I finally reached a bus stop.
I took the bus and returned to Cafe A to Z one last time. Hungry, I ordered their double garlic toast and green tea latte for 10,000 won ($9.50 USD). Garlic and whipped cream doesn’t go well together, guys. And I’d forgotten that the Korean garlic breads are more sweet than savoury. I ate it all, though, because I was starving. The breather helped me dry out and unwind from my long walk. By then the rain had finally lessened, so I walked around Bongpo Harbour (봉포항), and I enjoyed the sea one last time.
Day 5: Being a Seoulite Again!
It was time to go back home! I packed up and I cleaned up my room a bit. When it was time to go to the bus terminal, I asked my host if he could help me call a cab, but he offered to take me there! I took his kind offer, and I was able to switch my bus ticket from 1:00pm to 11:00am. The bus ride felt so long this time because coming into Seoul took forever, but I made it home. I miss Sokcho and Bongpori, but I’m glad to be back! It was a great Korea-cation, and I’m pleased that I chose to come here instead of going to Japan again. Not only was this trip easier on me, but it was also cheaper. My entire trip — including lodging, transportation, food, and other expenses — only cost me about $290.00 USD. I spent less than I expected — a big plus for me! This is an experience I won’t forget, and Sokcho will always hold a special place in my heart.