Sights & Attractions in South Korea
Osaek, South Korea
Sights & Attractions in South Korea Osaek Reviews
Osaek, S Korea 17-18 Mar 07 Jun 29, 2008
From East Seoul Bus Terminal -> Sokcho -> Osaek:
Thinking that the weather has turned warm enough to go up Mt Seorak, I went to Osaek last Sat. At East Seoul Bus Terminal, I made it in time to catch the 12.00noon bus to Osaek, but there was no more seat. The next bus was 6.30pm – too long. No choice, I bought the ticket for the next town near Osaek, which is Sokcho. The bus traveled eastwards passing many army bases, as Mt Seorak is quite near to DMZ. Entering Sokcho, the town is still covered with snow. The mountains, streets, trees are still layered with snow ! It is like entering another time zone. This reminded me of the time we drove from Vancouver to Galgari passing through Louise, which it was snowing (but in summer !). Six of us were surprised but happy that we stayed 1 night in Louise. This will be another story !
Arrived in Sokcho Bus Terminal, I caught another bus to Osaek at 2.30pm. The journey took about 40-45 mins. The bus wound its way along Sokcho beach – nice rippling water but no one was on the beach – too cold !
The bus dropped me and another dumb/deaf couple at a stop by the road. As it was my first time here, I looked for some signs of the town but all signs are in Korean. No choice, I asked the dumb/deaf couple for location of motels, as it was already 3.30pm. Mr Hong Soo Kwan, who is a freelance Designer & Print Artist in Seoul, asked me (in sign language, of course) to follow them. While walking towards the town (further inside), I like the views of the majestic mountains in front of us – capped with snow. Quiet little town – perhaps it is off season ! The air here is crisp.
Walking across one bridge, we passed by a row of restaurants by the river. One Korean lady was already asking us to try her food.
Pure Mineral Water:
We walked on until we saw the sign “OSAK MINERAL WATER”. Mr Hong was so excited that he asked his partner to buy a water container nearby.
Collecting natural mineral water needs patience, as the hole is small and the rate of water seeping out of the rocks is very small too. But we have all the time here in this laid-back town, as there is nothing to do at night anyway. The only entertainment I saw is karaoke in a hotel nearby.
According to Mr Hong, this mineral water cooked with Korean rice tastes better and also after drinking, the mineral water can clear the digestive system and he will feel better the next day !
Local Dishes in Osaek:
After that they helped me to look for a motel. We were distracted by the shop selling all kinds of mountain herbs and medicinal drinks in bottles. What got my attention was the dried fish !
After a long journey in the bus (almost 6 hrs), I did not mind having an early dinner. Mr Hong & his partner brought me into a Korean restaurant and ordered mountain herbs, steamy hot soup as well as the hot plate dried fish (my request). The side-dishes filled me up first as usual but I welcomed the hot soup as it was cold.
After the dinner, I went back to the motel (motels here are reasonable from US$20 – US$30 per nite. The first one offered me US$20 and the 2nd one US$30 per nite. When the lady of the 1st motel saw me again, she lowered it to US$15 per nite, so I took it.) to have a long hot bath. I soaked myself for half an hour.
I slept well and early as I got up the next day at 6.30am, intending to go to the waterfalls. My initial plan of going up to the peak (1,707m) I Mt Seorak is postponed as I am not dressed for this weather. I only brought T-shirts and no sweaters !
Hike on 18 Mar (Sun):
I got up early at 6.30am, eager to start the hike to Yongso Falls. Maybe it was too early, the shops were quiet. Even the coffee shop in the next motel was dark. I took a walk around the town before I went to the provision shop for the hot/cold drinks vending machine. Thank goodness, such vending machines are common in Korea.
On the way to Yongso Falls, came across this old temple with the 3-storied stone pagoda and the 2nd mineral water source, from which I drank a cupful – same salty taste ! A nun was at the back, when I went to look for a toilet. They are in the process of building a proper toilet, as I saw the 2 sitting toilet bowls in place but no walls yet ! I used the hole-in-the-ground, which is still covered by canvas.
I continued my hike but 100m from the falls, the way became impassable, as construction is ongoing – building wooden path by the walls to the falls for all. I was walking by the stream, some places with huge rocks and the stream was too wide for me to jump over. As it was impossible to walk on, I turned back to the town. So I had early lunch in town – mountain herbs & soup with rice as it was the cheapest – US$6. After that I went back to the bus ticket office in a small shop by the road to change my bus departure from 4.30pm to 1.30pm. But the man was kind enough to tell me, if I wanted, there was an earlier bus at 11.30am. But I look at the clock it was already 11.40am, I told him it was too late. He said in his limited English : NO, you go over & wait (pointing to the yellow box on the other side of the road).
I waited until almost 12noon, then the bus appeared. The bus ride was worth it as it went up and round the mountain, at the same time I was feeling nauseous. But the close views of the mountains were fantastic. When the bus reached the ground level, I was feeling better.
One filippino lady got up somewhere and took the seat beside me. During the driver’s break (15 mins), she took out a letter to read. Seeing that the contents are in English (I didn’t mean to peak…), I started talking to her. She even offered her bread and sweets to me.
From the conversation with her, she has been living here for about 6 years, married to a Korean guy, introduced to her through a marriage agency. She has a daughter now 4 yrs old, starting to learn Korean. She still can’t speak Korean though she can understand and her husband can’t speak English that well. Apparently there are other Filipinos here in the same situation.
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