To a western mind, it will sound strange when I say to you that from an entire row of Korean chain coffee shops (Starbucks, Angels-in-us, TomnToms, ‘To Presso, Caffe Bene etc), none of them were open before 9am.
So, we boarded with our ferry station snacks for brekkie and I’m proud to say that the extra W12,000 upgrade to first class was well worth it. Third class smells bad. Like kimchi, like mold. Quick to nausea.
Three and a half hours later, we were pushing through the crowd at the Ulleung-do ferry port, (when walking through a Korean crowd, always remember- elbows out), without any idea of where to sleep.
I stopped to ask a policeman who kindly informed us that of all the hundreds of minbaks, hotels, motels etc around the island, there was in fact no place for us to sleep. He clearly did not understand my sarcasm translated badly into Korea, so we ventured back into the thick crowd. Suddenly, two men appeared who we think were asking us if we needed a place to stay. They seemed decent, so we nodded and went with it.
We followed them up a hill and up a steep steep staircase to find him bargaining with the Hotel Harmoni (translated into Hotel Grandma) and were eventually shown a second bedroom with a shared bathroom and living room with these two kind men, who turned out to be botanists and had just discovered a new species of plant, which we were not allowed to photograph because “secret.” So we accepted.
We spent the rest of the day wandering along a cliffside pathway, waves crashing. I went searching for a lighthouse which I never made it to, and Julie trekked across a path of many bridges.
Ulleung-do is full of friendly people- locals and tourists. I can’t even count on two hands the number of times we were offered to eat, drink, hang out, chat with people. It was really amazing. We were the only foreigners we saw the entire 4 days away from Busan. My Korean got a lot of practice and by the end of each day, my mind was tired.
Being an island, Ulleung-do is full of fresh fish from the sea. I wish I liked fresh fish from the sea. I don’t.