I was inspired to explore Gangneung after reading the Soul of Seoul’s blog and the impromptu trip came to fruition a week later, with Mika, the SeoulChild and two of her friends. I hadn’t been on an all-girls trip since my best friend’s Vegas bachelorette last year, so I was keen to explore the Korean east coast with my new gal pals.
Our getaway literally couldn’t have happened without Mika making the bus, train, and guesthouse reservations. All, I had to do was show up on Saturday morning but Friday night proved to be my downfall.
7:30 p.m. Hahaha, let’s go shopping oh and let’s drink soju and eat samgyeopsal 삼겹살! Funners!!
11:00 p.m. I’m home now. Hello, suitcase. I guess I should pack you. But wait, my hair is a mess… I think I should do my hair and time myself by watching season 3 of Outlander.
2:30 a.m. Snores.
4:00 a.m. What, no. I can’t deal. Go away.
5:25 a.m. Blearily gazing at the clock, realizing that, yes indeed, I was missing the train. Fast forward to me racing around the house, hailing a taxi.
5:50 a.m. I made it to my transfer. The train doesn’t come.
5:56 a.m. Gasping for air, I clambered into a tobacco scented taxi. “Please ahjussi take me to Express Bus Terminal.”
6:00 a.m. After a bit of pleading and forcing Mika’s voice into his ear. We took off at a moderate pace, towards the highway.
6:05 a.m.“By all means, move at a glacier pace…” #worsttaxiever
6:37 a.m. “We’re on the bus, how far are you?” Don’t mind me, just stuck in traffic.
6:46 a.m. “The bus left the terminal, where are you?” Running into the station, despondent about my life’s choices.
9:10 a.m. I finally boarded the bus for Gangneung and promptly caught some additional snores.
A few hours later, I arrived in the coastal city of Gangneung and promptly checked into the Pine Garden Guesthouse, I was kindly greeted by our hosts and was given a tour of their charming accommodations.
After a quick change, I met up with the girls who were having an extended boozy brunch at The Sky Bar & Grill.
Thankfully, they saved me a couple plates. I was able to quickly nom before the restaurant ushered us out, and we headed towards the beach.
Gyeongpo Beach (경포대) was exactly what I needed. Earnest warm waves lolled upon the bleached sand. Although it was cloudy, the beach was relatively packed with locals and expats (yet remarkable litter free!) but we had enough space that we were rarely bothered, although we did frolick in the water with friendly ahjummas. 🙂
What’s better than being a mermaid?
Later that evening, Hoon – owner of the guesthouse, our friend’s stayed in – gave us a tour around Gyeongpo pond. The actual walk was about 4km and honestly it isn’t a bad walk.
However, if you’re like me and lack a thigh gap – properly prepare with trainers and spandex! I definitely enjoyed the tour, learning about the rich cultural traditions of Gangneung, the preparations for the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (평창군), and the importance of recognizing the South Korean comfort women.
During WWII the Japanese army occupied South Korea and many Korean women were forced into sexual slavery. On December 28, 2015, a historic settlement between Japan and South Korea for reparations for the Korean comfort women. There has been heavy debate and political pressure to remove the Korean comfort women statues, to ease international relations (and potentially erase history). However, the statues remain and more are being unveiled in various Korean cities. – Aug 14 is the International Memorial Day for the Comfort Women and Liberation Day is Aug 15.
Our tour ended at the Gyeongpodae Pavilion (강릉 경포대), which overlooks the Gyeongpo pond, and if you have excellent eyesight, you can view the ocean from the ledge. Unlike some pavilions in Seoul, you can enter this traditional pavilion. — Watching the sunset over the pond was magical.
Before our night officially ended, Hoon took us into the city center for a Pajeon festival – which of course included makgeolli. The ahjummas and ahjussi’s were incredibly nice and welcoming – honestly, our interactions with the citizens of Gangnuneng was amazing, everyone was helpful and that definitely was a plus for our adventure.
All in all, Gangneung was a wonderful respite from the city and it was super lovely to hang out with gals. I definitely plan to revisit Gangneung (I heard the NYE’s Sunrise Festival, is not one to miss!). As a certified beach bum, I’m more than ready to soak up the sun and dissolve into a mermaid.
“She loves the serene brutality of the ocean, loves the electric power she felt with each breath of wet, briny air.” ― Holly Black
Photos Provided by Sarah Walsh
▻ Gangneung Gyeongpo Beach (경포대)
▻ Gangneung Gyeongpo Pond (경포호(철새도래지)
▻ Gyeongpodae Pavilion (강릉 경포대)
▻ From Seoul Express Bus Terminal (line 7/6/3), take bus to Gangneung.
▻ From Gangneung Intercity Bus Terminal, take taxi or bus 202 to Gyeongpodae Beach.