Photoessay: Udo, Jeju’s Cow Island

If I were to describe Jeju Island in colors, I’d choose green, orange and black. If I were to describe Udo, a small island off of the big island, I’d say it was black, white and blue. Grey has always been one of my favorite colors, so it’s not hard to imagine that Udo stole my heart from the beginning and never let it go. Renting a motorbike and scootering around the perimeter made it that much better.

Udo means cow island and is named that because the island is apparently shaped like a cow lying down.

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Yeah, I don’t see it either. Anyways, let’s just move on to the pictures that make sense.

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This is a photoessay about an island so it’s only appropriate that I begin with a photograph of the ferry that took me there.
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Black rocks and bright white sand made quite the pretty picture. It looked like this all over the island.
rhodolith korea jeju udo islet beach
This beach, named Seobin Baeksa, is the only beach in Korea filled with rhodolith, which are like coral but unattached to things. You could call them the tumbleweeds of the ocean.
bike black rocks jeju udo
What’s a rural islet without a rusting kiddy bike?
blue ocean black rock udo island islet
Rolling, clear blue waves are one thing I may never see enough of.
hermit crab wild nature rock ocean udo korea
I found a family of hermit crabs, and I temporarily kidnapped this little guy so I could take a picture of him. Which I messed up/overexposed, and have somewhat salvaged enough to show you. Adorable.
coast table beach udo jeju korea
And of course I stopped for coffee, enjoyed at one of these coast side tables.
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The coffee shop gave you little books to write it while you were waiting for your order, so I took that opportunity to promote myself. No shame.
cat sleeping photograph jeju udo island korea
Aww, a cat sleeping on top of someone’s laptop. Why isn’t that surprising?
udo island korea field black rocks green
Considering that Udo is formed by a bunch of old volcanic rocks, it’s understandable that the attempts at farming aren’t very intensive.
boat water circle island jeju udo korea
Things to do next time I go to Udo: get dizzy and nearly vomit on a speed boat.
sunlight water cliff udo jeju korea island islet
Dramatic views included.
cat jeju udo island islet korea beach water rocks
I spy with my little eye…
udo islet jeju korea rock tower buddhism
Stack a rock and make a wish; these pillars are all over Korea, especially in Buddhist temples, but they suddenly look like precarious feats of gravity when done with porous, volcanic rocks.

white black lighthouse udo island jeju korea beach

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Have you ever been to Cow Island? Did you spy the hiding kitty?

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Photoessay: Bikes of Germany

Germany is one of those countries with its ducks all in a row when it comes to transportation. Public transportation is everywhere, convenient and cheap. Cars are small, sometimes battery powered and gas is expensive, which prohibits people from driving for dumb reasons. Scooters and motorcycles are more common than uncommon. Walking for long stretches is considered usual, and when you can’t walk, then the answer is to bike.

Biking is everywhere. Bikers have their own lanes, either part of the road or the sidewalk, and if you’re walking in the bike lane someone will yell at you and possibly just fly past you at high speeds, scaring you poopless. Most people have mastered one handed biking, biking with heavy bags, biking around sharp corners without wiping out. It’s amazing.

So, yeah, I took a lot of pictures of bicycles while I was in Germany. Why not?

motorbike germany berlin
Moto, moto, on the wall…
bike bicycle germany berlin
Biking gets you places and prevents heart disease!
beach travemunde germany bike sand
Bike to the beach, sit your butt in the sand, swim in freezing water, bike home and dry off in the process. Smart.
beach bike travemünde germany
Travemünde, Germany.
bike germany berlin street
People lock their bikes onto anything they can find, including street signs.
bike child seat germany building
Baby goes for a bike ride!
leipzig library bike bicycle
Everyone in Leipzig bikes to the library. Everyone.
munich bike bridge street
You can always drag your infant child around, too.
bike lane street munich germany
Brave souls, biking with the traffic.
bike woman street germany
Bike and sightsee at the same time!
bike germany graffiti wall
Bicycles and graffiti somehow go together quite well…
bike river bridge germany
Some people bike to the river, then relax for a while outside.
bike bush germany green
Or people just stick their bikes into the bushes.
germany potsdam bike tour path woods
Biking through Potsdam was one of the best things I did during vacation.
bike german berlin street river
If you didn’t bring a bike to Germany, you can always rent one.

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Photoessay: (One of) Taean’s Secrets, Padori Beach

The area of Taean, South Korea is tucked into the West coast under Seosan and seriously underpopulated. It’s covered partially in a national reserve and is essentially an old, disintegrated peninsula and the islands that remain, with a little, beat-up city in the middle. Taean doesn’t even have its own police station, they’re patrolled by the nearby city. Because of this geography, Taean is blessed with beaches galore. Beaches everywhere. Beaches, beaches and beaches! And since they can’t all be popular, that leads to a lot of little gems. Padori Beach is one of them. (Hagampo is also one of them, see that photoessay here!) If you live in the area, it’s the perfect place for a weekend trip.

In case you wanted to know. Ya know?
In case you wanted to know. Ya know?

If you’re into bright white sand and little cocktails with umbrellas in them, Padori is not the beach for you. (Nearby Mallipo Beach might be, though.) If you like rugged, interesting rocky landscapes at low tide and a little bit of sand to lay on further down the beach, then you’ll like Padori. Also, you can’t be too mad about a little garbage at the waters edge… though that is likely also the case at nearby Mallipo. It’s not like this is Aruba; it’s some random beach on the West coast of Korea! Perspective.

Amendment: a freaking gorgeous random beach on the West coast of Korea.
Amendment: a freaking gorgeous random beach on the West coast of Korea.

You’ll also like Padori if you’ve always wanted to go hunting for sea snails, small crabs and other urchins to cook and eat. You can get a pair of gloves from whatever place you’re staying and hit the rocks at low tide. I got there about eleven in the morning and was a bit late to the game, but still found plenty of little critters. Ten would have been better, since the sun isn’t completely out yet. If you stay at the place I stayed, the lovely landlord/renter will help you. (If you don’t, you’re missing out cause she is one friendly and generous lady! Just sayin’. Details at the end of this post.)

I’ll go ahead and get to the part you want to see: the photographs.

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What can I saw, I’m a sucker for the flower shots.
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“Hi, I’m a giant, bright orange rock and I’m just gonna stick myself right here, in the middle of the beach.”
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Fishing town equals fishing garbage… but at least it looks kind of pretty.
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Tip: wear sturdy shoes, because walking over rocks like this with flats was a bit of a challenge.
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Can you believe this is South Korea?
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This poor starfish didn’t realize it was a full moon and low tide. Silly starfish.

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This is what Mary thought about the sandy part of the beach.
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Father and daughter go fishing.
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Obviously Mary is a fan of Padori Beach.
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The verdict: I like this beach. (And how dare this stranger put their arm in my otherwise perfectly good photograph? The nerve!)

Where I stayed:

Jaeil House is a pension which provides plenty of rooms for two, right by the beach. I wouldn’t call these rooms four star hotels, but the landlady is a doll and owns a few other pensions in the same area. If you smile sweetly, maybe she’ll upgrade your room. (Beware of her five-year-old daughter, who is liable to chase you, tug at your arms and question your tattoos, lovingly.)
Cost: Depending on the room, between 70,000W – 120,000W for two.
Address: 충청남도 태안군 소원면 파도리 697
(697 Padori, Sowon-myeon, Taean-gun, Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea)
Phone Number: 041-672-9247. I’m not gonna lie, she’s not much of an English-speaker, but she gets by. Getting a Korean speaker to make the reservation for you will be helpful, or just show up and use sign language.

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Photoessay: Camping on Hagampo Beach

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This Saturday/Sunday, my friends and I went camping on the beach. Koreans love camping, so it was especially lucky that we not only found a nice stretch of beach to accommodate all of us (over 20 people!) but also had the beach almost entirely to ourselves. We all set up our tents, located all of our bags and cracked open a beer (or wine, or soju + juice) to enjoy in the sunshine. The communal environment was relaxing; we all shared pork, beef, ramen noodles, vegetables and drinks of all kinds and our laughter echoed over the empty beach for hours. Freezing as the water was, the brave few swam and the majority of us waded only as far as our calves. We played frisbee, “cricket”, soccer and hiked to the part-time island (low tide/high tide) to climb over rock piles and see the other side of the beach. After sunset, we built a huge bonfire on the beach and sat in a circle, warming our tired legs and soaking up the heat.

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Thanks for the memories, Hagampo.

About Hagampo (학암포):
Hagampo is a beach located about 20km Northwest of Taeon (태안), in Chungnam Province. A local bus runs to Hagampo a few times each day or, alternatively, a taxi will cost about 26,000₩.

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Photoessay: Daecheon Weekend Getaway

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I’ve never seen so many strange kinds of fish before. Wonderful.

Friday, May 17th, was Buddha’s birthday, a national holiday in Korea. I had plans to go to Busan for the long weekend (along with most of Korea) but around 3pm on Thursday, a horrible sore throat decided to rear its head and discourage me from travel. Remembering that time I fainted on the Buenos Aires subway and the other times I nearly fainted on a Korean bus, because I’d been sick and refused to let it keep me down, I decided to make it a quiet(er) weekend and cancelled my ticket with a heavy heart.

Continue reading Photoessay: Daecheon Weekend Getaway

Rail Car Makeover

have you ever done a bicycle rail car? this stretch of railway off of route 7 on the Eastern coast lets you do just that. the scenery is beautiful. it was such an interesting experience. you even go through a tunnel portion which is slightly useless, but the trippy lights and strange interior decorating make it entertaining at least. can’t change the railway, right?

it begins at Samcheok and the ride is some 5 kilometers. don’t worry, it requires little to no actual physical exertion.

highly recommended: the Korea tourism info page about it

long weekend roadtrip out East

this past weekend has been extra long; Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were holidays and I didn’t have to work. instead of resting for a little bit (which would have been the better idea, in retrospect), I decided to go on a long road trip down the eastern coast of Korea.

the trip ended in disaster, which tends to happen when you travel with the wrong person, but I prefer not to go into any details. instead, I’ll focus on the best parts of the trip: the beauty of Korea and the cultural quirks I came across. Continue reading long weekend roadtrip out East

Featured Photograph: Waymok Beach

Discovering that I have a gorgeous beach more or less in my backyard? JACKPOT! Now if only I could sun tan without offending everyone… (Koreans are very conservative and go swimming in their clothes.)

왜목 (Pronounced “Way-mok”), South Korea

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travel diary down South: Cheonan, Daegu, Tong Yeong and Busan (Korea)

vacation time: it’s glorious. but it ends before you know it. I’m back in my little apartment already, although I have until tomorrow (Sunday) to be away… but when it’s time to go home and you know it, then it’s best to go home. and according to my bank account, it was definitely time.

(it’s weird how vacations just eat money, kind of like my cousins’ dogs eat the food we “accidentally” throw on the floor during dinner.)

anyhow, short as my trip was, I managed to cover a decent amount of ground and still enjoy myself at the same time. revision: I had a blast. here’s the lowdown: Continue reading travel diary down South: Cheonan, Daegu, Tong Yeong and Busan (Korea)