First off, apologies for the somewhat prolonged silence on my blog, I’ve been having too much fun (and not enough sleep) to keep up lately, but I promise I will try harder in future. I know how much the world needs one more travel blog!
What I have been doing with my time is exploring more of Korea than I thought existed, and so I’ll enlighten you by sharing my experience of the Korea we don’t usually get to see.
Come on get to the point Emmet, I ain’t got all day! Ok, ok, reader here it is: Bijindo Island Korea:
Surprisingly, this haven of white sand and blue sea is not all that far from Busan. After a one-and-a-half-hour bus ride to Tongyeong (통영시) and a quick run around E-Mart for some camping essentials such as pancake batter and sweet potatoes, we were left with only the 50 minute ferry to the unspoiled island.
Bijindo is rather unusual as there are two “islands” connected by a sandbar beach. Each island is heavily forested and, as with most of Korea, basically a mountain. Now I don’t know about you folks but I was not expecting the country to be quite so mountainous!
Upon arrival I was first struck by how few buildings there were to be seen by the pier, then how little concrete there was in front of me, and finally by the beauty of the mountainous islands. However, I was ever so slightly taken aback by the whiff of rotting fish and engine oil while disembarking… Although these are, of course, to be expected by a dock.
Camping on the island was free as we weren’t on an official campsite, rather we pitched our tents on some flat ground in the forest by the beach. The chirping of the crickets and other forest noise brought me right back to Spain, living in a tent on the side of a mountain, lying awake at night in my tent hoping for some peace and quiet.
Once the tents were pitched and we had settled in it was off for a hike on the smaller of the two islands. As we arrived late in the day and took our time setting up camp, hiking was a race against time to make it back before sunset. Previously, I had thought of hiking as a leisurely past-time but let me tell you, I was close to resorting to the Bear Grylls method of wilderness survival after the first steep patch of the well-worn track.
As the sun set, the trees began to glow like something out of some classical novel or other, bathed first in honey gold and then later darkening to a burning orange-red like freshly shined copper. Sadly, lacking the necessary polarizing lenses on our cameras we failed to capture the stunning pictures I would have liked. To be honest, I didn’t take any pictures until the following day as my phone was switched off the entire weekend. Or nearly so at least.
Being the intrepid adventurers we are, we had packed our own supply of food as well as a camping stove and that night we ate like the kings of camping. This was thanks to Kat and Jaesung who spent their time chopping and stir-frying while the rest of us stood on and watched through the gloom of the evening twilight.The night was not long nor late that night, as once the sun went down and our fire on the beach burnt low, having no source of light and beginning to feel the effects of the day most of us hit the sack just after midnight.
There is not one single thing I can choose as my favorite part of the weekend, the beauty, the fun, the midnight dip, banana pancakes in the morning. There is one moment though, that brought back the fact that I am undeniably in Korea. This was when I ordered a toasted sandwich in the cafe on the island and it arrived with the usual fillings of lettuce, a fried egg, a cheese slice, ketchup, and… strawberry jam. 10/10 would eat again. Oh Korea and your idea that all bread should be sweet how my mind boggles.
So there you have it folks, yet another surprising and unseen part of Korea I would never have expected to see. If you need details on how to get to the island or other info I’ll try my best to share any knowledge I have!