Last year, I visited Sokcho and fell in love with the area. However, last year’s trip was plagued with rain, so I didn’t quite get to see the East Sea on a clear day. I decided earlier this year to do a return trip to Sokcho, but this time for a shorter duration — two nights instead of four nights. I’m glad I made this trip because I really needed to get away from Seoul and Songtan. With all the stress from my new job, I wanted nothing more than to escape for a few days, and this trip was it. It was a short getaway, but I’ve regained my sanity, and I saw the East Sea again, so that made me happy.
Day 1: Returning to Sokcho
I returned to Sokcho from Gangnam Express Bus Terminal. I took the 10:40am bus and arrived at Sokcho by 1:25pm. Then I took the city bus to my pension, which is about five minutes north of the city. As soon as I stepped off the bus, I was greeted to the beautiful East Sea. I’m not kidding. Seeing that sea made me grin like a maniac.
After I admired the sea, I checked into my room at Seasketch Pension. I think this is the same room I stayed in last year, but it was remodelled. Interior design differences aside, I still think this is a great room. It’s clean, cosy, and comfortable. I unpacked and made myself at home. As you can see, I brought my skincare regime with me from home. I really cannot pack light, haha!
I didn’t stay in my room long because I wanted to walk along the sea, and I did! As I walked, I listened to the waves crash the shores, I watched the seagulls fly and gather around on the beach, and I re-acquainted myself to the sea smells. My walk led me to Cafe A to Z, a cafe I visited last year. I was stoked to see that this was still in business. I bought myself some blueberry bagel, latte, and a sweet potato latte. I didn’t relax much in there because I was too busy following the U.S. election.
Eventually, I left Cafe A to Z because I saw that it was almost time for sunset! I eagerly headed to the shores, hoping I’d get a fabulous sunset, but . . . it wasn’t great. It was still pretty, but nothing amazing. I stayed at the beach for a while, until it grew too cold. Thankfully, I managed to find a restaurant that serves food I like! This is a big deal because most of the restaurant in this area is all about seafood, and I am not a seafood fan at all. Anyway, because I was half-frozen, I ordered some tteokguk (Korean rice cake soup) — this warm dish really hit the spot! When I finished my meal, I returned to the pension.
Day 2: Visiting Naksan Temple
I came to Sokcho without a set itinerary. But while here, I looked up on Naksansa (Naksan Temple), a Buddhist temple that’s set on a hill and overlooks the East Sea. This place required me to ride two buses that took about 35 minutes. Because it was nearby, I decided to visit here, and I found myself really liking the place. For 3,000 won ($2.80 USD), it was worth venturing out here to this beautiful spot! Okay, I wasn’t fond of the hills, but I was lucky in that the pathway was safe and didn’t require too much of a hike! I walked through the two gates, and I came upon the seven-story pagoda, several buildings, and a pond in the area.
However, my main goal at this place was to visit Uisangdae (Uisang Pavilion). This pavilion overlooks the East Sea, and it was said that Uisang, a Great Monk, built the pavilion there because it was his favourite place to meditate. After seeing this place myself, I can see why he meditated here. This is a great spot to watch the East Sea, and I felt a sense of calm washing over me. I really enjoyed the view here! I even got a shot of the summit — there’s a gigantic Buddha statue there — because I wasn’t in the mood to climb any more hills that day.
After Naksansa, I returned to my current neighbourhood and returned to the restaurant I went the night before to try their kimchi fried rice. I hadn’t eaten anything when I went to the temple, so I was super hungry when I had this. I devoured this meal! Afterwards, I just chilled at Cafe A to Z. It started sprinkling, so I had no desire to explore any further. I ended my night with Korean pork cutlet at the same restaurant I had lunch. It was super delicious!
Day 3: Catching the Sunrise
I had meant to do this yesterday, but my body didn’t want to cooperate. My second attempt at waking up super early to catch the sunrise went a lot better. I walked to Bongpo Harbour, and there I watched the gorgeous sky being painted by the sun. I’ve seen plenty of sunrises, but never at the sea, so this was a truly remarkable experience for me.
Thank goodness I waited a bit because I saw the sun pop out in the sky! It was so cool! I’ve only seen this happen in movies and documentaries, so seeing it in person was a billion times more amazing. What a fantastic ending to my trip.
Here’s a final shot of the seaside village I stayed at for two years in a row. This place has been a great place for a getaway. With all the changes in the past couple of months, I desperately needed this to unwind and heal my weary body and mind. Coming here has soothed my soul, and I enjoyed escaping from the faster-paced lifestyle I have in Seoul and Songtan. I even enjoyed the fact that I came here without a set itinerary. I went with the flow, more or less, and it felt good. Outside of Korea, Japan’s my happy place, but in Korea, this place, with the East Sea and the peaceful village, is and will always be my happy place.