From Sokcho Intercity Bus terminal I took bus number 7-1 to Seorak-Dong. This small place is the gateway to the National Park and offers accomodation and basic supply – assuming you have cash, international ATM’s don’t exist up here. I checked into Han Gang Park Motel and fell asleep after a long day.
I woke up two hours late since I had forgotten to activate my alarm and when I left the motel around 11am there were people everywhere. It seemed that half of the Korean population had decided to visit Seoraksan that day. The path up to Ulsan Rock is steep and rocky and mostly narrow. Combine this with masses of tourists and you hace perfect conditions for another Korean experience: as kind and forthcoming they may be in interaction with friends or business partners, as stubborn and oblivious they are in traffic. A push here, a kick there, and giving way doens’t exist in this country. Surprising that I made it to the top of the 808 stairs that take you to the very top – but it was for sure worth it. The view across the valley and other summits of the park was simply breath-taking.
There was still enough time left to visit another recommended place which is a cave in the middle of a granite face high above the valley. This time it wasn’t as busy as before because most people were already on their way down. It wasn’t less steep though and I almost turned around before reaching the cave. Maybe I should have since the view from up there was nothing compared to before and I can still feel my legs from the many steps and stones. I arrived at the motel quite exhausted and was happy that I had brought some left over chicken soup. Without any cash left on me I wasn’t even able to buy dinner.
Without any cash or food I decided to take the bus back down to Sokcho where I wanted to stay one more night at the Good Morning Hotel right next to the beach. There’s also a 24h Family Mart that offers an ATM which takes foreign credit cards. Looking back at the park however I felt like missing out on something and changed my plan again. Back in Seorak-Dong I noticed the huge difference between weekend and weekdays. I felt almost lonesome when I walked towards the cable car that would bring me up to the remainders of the Gwon-Geun Fortress. Not much reamains of it but the summit offers another amazing view this time from the opposite direction. I think I spent almost two hours up there, relaxing in the sun.
Apparently it is the most popular city of the east coast in South Korea. On this Monday afternoon it was rather quiet and I spent the rst of the day walking thorugh down town and along the harbour back to the hotel where I’m sitting right now typing these words while in the background a hippo is munching on a crocodile?! Not kidding, it’s National Geographics channel. But in Korean unfortunately, I would have loved to hear the commentary!