Friday, 2 October 2015

Chuseok weekend on Sokcho Beach

Last weekend it was a national holiday here in Korea. Chuseok (as its called) is a major harvest festival that is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. Traditionally most Koreans spend this 3 day holiday by travelling back to their home towns and sharing a huge feast with family and friends. Yum. Most also wear the traditional hanbok (dress) and play various folk games, so its similar to Thanksgiving in that it’s a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your nearest and dearest. Others (especially the foreigners) use this time off as a chance to travel around the country and even further afield too. So me and some friends thought what better way to celebrate this holiday then to do something totally Korean, and go camping for the weekend on the east coast.  

 Sokcho Beach
Sokcho is a small beach side town on the north east side of Korea. It has a huge military presence due to its close proximity to North Korea (just 30 miles in fact) and it was actually once part of the North right up until the end of the Korean war. Therefore most of the residence here have family that are unfortunately still in North Korea, but regardless of these circumstances I found most of the people here to be extremely friendly, happy and welcoming. We arrived in Sokcho after a 4 hour bus trip from Express Bus Terminal in Seoul. It usually doesn’t take this long, but due to the chaotic holiday traffic, we experienced a bit of a delay. As soon as we got there we headed straight to the beach, which is about a 5 minute walk from the bus terminal itself, and set up camp. The weather was literally perfect, not too hot and not too cold and the sky was completely clear. 

There were a few other people in the area that were also camping but for the most part it was pretty empty. There is a campsite that is set back slightly from the beach next to some red and white dome buildings that we discovered after the first night, but as we had already set up camp we decided to stick it out on the beach. It was free after all. That afternoon we mainly just chilled out on the beach and explored the local area. We found the cutest little café that served an ice cream beer that was beyond delicious. The people in this café were so friendly that we went back on more then one occasion over the duration of the trip. It can be found right next to the dome buildings on the main road so if you’re in the area be sure to pay them a visit.

 Ice cream beer! Yum!
 Exploring the local area
Footprints in the sand
As we eat out quite a lot at restaurants back in Seoul, we decided to grab some food from the local supermarket and have our own little Bar-BQ on the beach. We bought an array of different meats including pork, duck and chicken aswell as some Kimchi and lots of other vegetables too. After dinner and several bottles of the famous flavoured Soju, we roasted some marshmallows on the fire and stargazed whilst listening to the moving tides. There was a constant display of fireworks and lanterns to be seen and so we of course had to buy some sparklers to celebrate the Chuseok holiday. One thing I love about the beaches in Korea (or at least the ones I have been to) is that there always seems to be people setting off fireworks. This makes every beach visit seem like a constant celebration of some sort and one that I will gladly take part in. 

Sokcho Beach at night

Sokcho beach is the perfect place for a relaxing weekend away, not only because of the amenities and natural beauty of the area, but also because of its proximity to the famous Seoraksan Mountain. The next day we had planned to take the short bus trip up to Seoraksan National Park itself to do some hiking, and so off to sleep we went with a head empty of thoughts, and a heart full of happiness ready for the next days, mini adventure.

To be continued...

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