Ullengdo and Dokdo Trip
Written by Amy Flanaghan
On the 14th of October this year around 90 foreigners set off to spend their Chuseok on the ¡®Mysterious¡¯ island of Ullengdo. A short holiday that I¡¯m certain was one to be remembered, and treasured, by all.
After the bus journey through the night we arrived at the harbour and those who were awake enough to move took the short walk to the beach to watch the sunrise – an experience that is always peaceful and enjoyable. At 8am we boarded the Ferry for Ullengdo, which we were told would be 2¨ö hours but turned out to be 3¨ö! The handing out of sick bags at the door doesn¡¯t fill me with hope for the journey but thankfully I was one of the lucky ones who didn¡¯t get sea sick. But believe me when I tell you that ferry ride was only the warm up for what was yet to come!
Once we arrived on Ullengdo we took the short walk to our hotel and ate lunch, something that many people would live to regret doing! As after lunch we had the choice to take a 1hour 20 minute ferry ride to Dokdo Island, a famous island which Korea and Japan have long been fighting over. Many people, even those who suffer sea sickness decided to take the ferry as 1 hour 20 minutes wasn¡¯t too bad to say you have stood on Dokdo Island. Well¡¦I don¡¯t think I could ever give the ferry ride justice in print, you had to be there!! The sea was so rough that it turned our boat into a rollercoaster. The effect of which made it not dissimilar to a plague ship! I¡¯d say around 85% of people on the ferry were being sick, in the bins, in the bags, in the toilets, it was unbelievable, the smell and sound cannot be described! To make matters worse the loveable way Koreans underestimate time lengths came into play and the ferry ride lasted 2¨ö hours! Finally arriving on Dokdo was such a relief, the usual rush of Korean to get out of the door first was heightened just to get fresh air! We only stayed on the island for about 15 minutes, there isn¡¯t really much to see, just big rocks really, but the main reason to go there is because of all the conflict and the history. The ferry ride back was much better, riding with the wind instead of against made all the difference! Overall, at the time of the first ferry I¡¯d have said it wasn¡¯t worth it, but looking back now it is just such a funny experience, I¡¯ve never seen so many ill people all together and I¡¯m really happy that I can say I¡¯ve been to Dokdo, something which all my students are really impressed with!
After a well needed good night sleep we all woke up early on Friday morning to take a bus tour around the Island. The weather was beautiful so getting the chance to go all around the coast of the island was great, the scenery was amazing. Each bus had a guide who would point out particular landmarks and important things, something that gave many of us foreigners a laugh as many of the sights seemed to be only rocks that looked like something, ¡®this is the rock shaped like a turtle¡¯ or ¡®this is the lion rock¡¯. The more we saw the more we found if you squint hard enough and use your imagination you really can see a rock that looks like an elephant chopping wood!
After the tour we ate lunch and then had the choice of weather to hike up the highest mountain on Ullengdo or go back to the hotel and explore the island. I¡¯d say we probably split 50 50. I went on the hike. Having Seok Jin tell me this was his favourite hike in Korea didn¡¯t fill me with hope that it was going to be anything other that really hard going! And although it took in total about 4¨ö hours and was mainly stairs which was so painful on my poor legs I would never have not wanted to do it. The scenery all the way up was lush and green and the air was so fresh, great to be out of the city. Finally reaching the top – it has to be said, pretty much at the back of the pack – was so exhilarating and always the reason why I go hiking! The stunning panoramic views of the rest of the island, the coastline and the shimmering clear sea rendered most people speechless. The beauty of this island, which most will say exceeds that of Jeju which is the island most foreigners will visit in Korea, was not to be forgotten!
As usual on Adventure Korea trips the nights were filled with parties on the roof, lots of drinking, laughing, talking, meeting new people, and as ever¡¦the good old norae bang! After which we all woke up on Saturday morning awaiting the news of whether we would be able to get the ferry home that day at 3pm as we had planned, as due to a typhoon somewhere near Japan the ferries the previous day had been cancelled! However although the typhoon was affecting the sea, the weather on the island was perfect! While we waited some people took the cable car up to the observatory, which again provided us with dazzling views of the island, different to those on the mountain as we were lower down and so could see things in more detail, the fabulous changing colours of the leaves, the vibrant colours of the houses in the town and the glistening blue sea.
As we expected we were unable to take the ferry that day, however most people didn¡¯t care, the weather was so nice and the island so beautiful that it wasn¡¯t really a punishment. So we spent the remainder of our extra day at the beach, I was very happy that we were getting the chance to go swimming, the sea was so nice. It was really clear and reasonably warm. We also managed to go swimming before our ferry left on Sunday. Although this time with more excitement involved! There was a suspension bridge in between two rocks that we were able to jump off into the gushing waves! The Koreans passed by us in amazement muttering to themselves most likely about the stupid foreigners jumping into crashing waves and rocks! Unheard of!
Our ferry ride back to Korea was smooth, I think even the Koreans were feeling fine! And once back in Korea we experience a first for me, a bus ride back to Seoul with NO traffic! Unbelievable! Arriving back in Seoul at around 9.30pm. All in all it was a brilliant trip, to a truly stunning island that I¡¯m sure will not be forgotten by anyone!