One of the best thing about working abroad is the amount of national holidays. In South Korea, we have around 12 national holidays-much better than the 6 or 7 that most people have in the US. If you haven’t seen any of my pictures on facebook , then you wouldn’t know that I went to one of the most beautiful places on Earth during this vacation. And no this is no exaggeration! Thursday May 5th is Children’s Day and all schools and offices are closed-seriously US step up your game. At first, I was told I had to work on Friday, some schools had it off and others had class depending on the principal. Luckily, about 2 weeks before, I was told that Friday May 6th was now a national holiday, meaning I got a 4 day weekend. Some friends and I decided to head down south and explore an island just off the coast. Side note: I have been told that there are more than 3,000 islands off the coast of South Korea, that’s mind boggling!
We hopped on a 2 1/2 hour bus ride Wednesday night to head down to the coastal town of Tongyeong. Our ferry to Bijindo Island left at 7am the next morning, and we were told that we needed to be at the ferry terminal by 6am to make sure our reserved tickets weren’t given to someone else. Yeah, I’m not sure why our tickets would be given away when we RESERVED them but we followed along and got to the ferry terminal as the sun was rising. The ferry ride was only 40 minutes and was gorgeous.
The entire waterway was lined with green mountains and gave off a very majestic appearance. Once we got to the island, it was still early so we went for a “hike.” Basically, this consisted of just walking along a road but it gave us some beautiful views of the island.
The island is shaped like a dumbbell and is very tiny with only 1 restaurant and 1 convenience store. After our hike, we decided it was warm enough to lay on the beach. Only problem was that as soon as we sat down, about 500 flies swarmed around us and wouldn’t leave us alone. One lady told us this about the flies “there is nothing you can do, this is their home, not yours.” So we decided to wear long sleeves and pants so we couldn’t feel the flies and could tolerate “relaxing” on the beach. After a little bit, a friend and I decided to play in the water which was freezing cold.
Later in the afternoon, we decided to take the ferry back to Tongyeong and went straight to a jjimjibang. Jjimjibangs are the public bathhouses and are separated by gender. We enjoyed relaxing in the different hot tubs. Since it was a holiday weekend, most of the hotels and hostels were fully booked so we decided to sleep at the jjimjibang (this is a very common thing in Korea). The sleeping area was PACKED and people don’t believe in A/C unless its 100 degrees, so it was hot in there.
The next morning we woke up to a dreary, rainy day. However, we were only here for a short amount of time so we sucked it up and explored Tongyeong in the rain. Up on a hill, there is a village with painted walls and on a clear day it offers pretty views of the harbor. Too bad it was cloudy, but I did still enjoy the views.
Next, we decided to hike to some temples. At one of the temples, we walked into a show that was just finishing. After the show, some of the actors or whatever they are called were teaching people how to shoot a bow and arrow. This was mostly for the kids, but if you know me at all, you know that I didn’t care and was all about trying this out. And yes I did hit the target!
To end our day, we sat by the harbor surrounded by clouds and just took in the scenery. This vacation came at a perfect time because the weather is finally staying warm and we all wanted to get out of the city and explore!
If you ever find yourself in Korea, traveling down south to explore the islands is a MUST!