This past weekend we had a nice mini-vacation, also known as having Monday and Tuesday off of work. When did two days off work become a "vacation"? I'm not quite sure. 'Adult Life' is so full of wonderful and uplifting surprises ;) For our vacation we decided to take a quick jaunt to the West coast. One of the nice things about Korea is it's peninsular nature - there are not one, but three coasts. For someone who comes from a homeland of no coasts (aside from the local reservoir), this is luxury living at it's best. As usual, semantics first.
We spent one night in Seoul, and then headed to the small coastal city of Sokcho. In order to get to Sokcho from Daejeon, one must first go to Seoul via KTX, slow train, or bus, and then hop onto another bus headed West. There are a few slow trains that head that way, however that trip takes about five hours when the bus (theoretically) takes three and a half. I say theoretically because our bus ride there and back took ten hours total; however, this was really our fault for trying to travel by bus on a holiday weekend.
Once in Sokcho, we wandered around looking for a place to stay, as had failed to lock down prior to our arrival. All of the three local hostels were booked solid, so we ended up staying at a local jimjilbang. From the Sokcho bus terminal you need to get on bus number one, and tell the driver you're going to e-Mart. Once off the bus head down the block towards e-Mart, and take your first left. The place we stayed is called 해수피 - It's the top two floors of a five story building and it has the red spa sign outside. If you can't find it, ask a Korean person, it's a pretty popular place in Sokcho and most people will know where it is.
For those of you who don't know a jimjilbang is a Korean bathhouse, in which you can also spend the night. First, you pay for your stay (about $10), and then you get a key. You drop your shoes in the first locker, put all of your stuff in a larger locker in the back, and then strip down. After that it's up to you - hang out in the various hot water pools, hit the sauna, get a head-to-toe body scrub, or go straight to bed. After changing into our sexy spa clothes, we managed to snag a floor mat, a pillow shaped like a brick, and a place on the floor amid the multitude of sleeping Koreans.
Not going to lie, it was not the most restful sleep of my life; however, it was a totally new experience, and I can now check sleeping in a jimjilbang off my Korean bucket-list. Additionally, it helped reinforce my new outlook on life: Calm the f*** down. Things will work out one way or another. To be fair, after the Thailand-Shanghai debacle, in which I spent the night in a Lotteria (Korean McDonalds), having a place to at least lie down is a big improvement. Also, the hot water baths felt amazing! Just what my body needed after all that time on a bus.
After our night in the jimjilbang we headed to Starbucks to charge up our phones and people watch for an hour or two. Then, it was off to the beach. Lounging on the coast was definitely the highlight of the weekend. The water was calming, clear, and beautiful. Also, there is nothing quite like taking a short nap in the sun, with the sound of the ocean to keep you company.
The only real bummer of the trip is that I didn't get a chance to go hiking, which is something I was really looking forward too. I am definitely going to head back to Seoraksan in the near future on a non-holiday weekend so I can A. have an actual bed to sleep in pre-hiking, and B. feel less rushed about getting everything done.
Despite some setbacks I had a very nice time - it was wonderful to see somewhere new and get away from the daily grind. Keep an eye out for a recap of my experiences in Thailand, as well as Part 2 of my mini-series on saving money. As always...
Enjoy the beautiful view!