Ulleungdo Photo Journal

At the beginning of September, I went on a business trip for EPIK teachers in the province of Chungcheongbuk-do. Well, I say business trip, but it was more of an all-inclusive paid vacation sponsored by the kind and generous people at Isabu Academy.

The aim? To learn about the history of Dokdo and the claims Korea has over the islands in the territorial dispute they have with Japan over them. (These islands are known in Japan as “Takeshima”, if you’ve heard it by that name instead).

Imma do this as a photo log since I managed to get in a fair amount of picture taking. Yay pictures!

We headed out a bit late on Monday morning (well, relatively speaking; it was 7:15 am, but we were waiting on a certain someone to show up *cough*Claire*cough*) and missed our strict 7 am departure. The majority of this day was spent by me being tired and antisocial as we were led through various areas on the East coast of Korea near the coastal city of Gangneung.

Cement-making factory on a pier, where a great deal of Korea's cement comes from.
Cement-making factory on a pier, where a great deal of Korea’s cement comes from.
Rope coils posing patiently for me in the coastal village made up of fishermen and workers at the cement factory.
Rope coils posing patiently for me in the coastal village made up of fishermen and workers at the cement factory.
Invading fishermen's wharf to take stealthy shots of fishing gear.
Invading fishermen’s wharf to take stealthy shots of fishing gear.
Small crop fields cultivated by the villagers for local sustenance.
Small crop fields cultivated by the villagers for local sustenance.

The guide was super knowledgeable, bringing us to tons of historical sites.

One of these was a banquet hall where, due to the danger of sailing the pirate-infested waters between Korea and the island of Ulleungdo, the sailors would feast as if for their last meal. It would be many months before they could return and family members could know their fate.

Banquet hall, photo by Ricky Jones whose awesome blog you can follow at http://www.eofthesun.com
We were supposed to sit and visualize the experience of having potentially our last meal. Photo by Eric Muñoz.
We were supposed to sit and visualize the experience of having potentially our last meal. Photo by Eric Muñoz.
View of city from banquet hall.
View of city from banquet hall.

The next day was another wake-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn start, but I was feeling a little more rested and sociable. Bought heaps of seasickness medication due to my tendency to be motion sick.

No seasickness for me!
No seasickness for me!

Passed the fuck out, and then awoke in time to play many rounds of charades. Let it be known that this is a great game for identifying people of similar tastes and levels of geekiness.

Arrived at the Ulleungdo port after about three hours. Because of the news of an upcoming typhoon, the itinerary was rearranged to allow us to go to Dokdo that day instead at risk of not being able to go at all (the weather is very fickle this far out in the water; the previous year’s trip couldn’t make it to the Dokdo islands at all due to stormy seas).

Took some more seasickness medication and we were off for another hour and a half ride.

Soldiers saluted our ferry as it docked at Dokdo.
Soldiers saluted our ferry as it docked at Dokdo.
Dokdo only has one house and otherwise is populated by soldiers. Tourists can come on irregular ferry visits, yet they still have a table selling souvenirs like scarves and sweatshirts.
Dokdo only has one house and otherwise is populated by soldiers. Tourists can come on irregular ferry visits, yet they still have a table selling souvenirs like scarves and sweatshirts for those who do show up.
Dokdo is literally two large rocks with several smaller rocks around them in the middle of the ocean that Korea and Japan are fighting over.
Dokdo is literally two large rocks with several smaller rocks around them in the middle of the ocean that Korea and Japan are fighting over.
Mandatory tourist shot.
Mandatory tourist shot.

We headed back after only twenty minutes on the island port to continue our educational tour of Ulleungdo.

Sunset on Ulleungdo.
Sunset on Ulleungdo.
Birds on a wire while walking around town.
Birds on a wire while walking around town.
Ulleungdo is famous for squid and its ports are brimming with the fishermens' haul, hung up to dry at night markets like this one.
Ulleungdo is famous for squid and its ports are brimming with the fishermens’ haul, hung up to dry at night markets like this one.

Spent the evening socializing at the pension getting to know each other. Having spent a very lonely and isolated year in Cheongju, it was amazing to finally meet people of similar personality and interests. We all hit it off swimmingly.

Went to get more beverages for our evening though and found this guy chilling on the vending machine.
Went to get more beverages for our evening though and found this guy chilling on the vending machine.

Next day the predicted typhoon made an early appearance.

Big wave crashing on concrete pier.
Big wave crashing on concrete pier.
Blowhole in concrete.
Blowhole in concrete.

Typhoon Day Waves Crashing and Foam Spraying 2014 Ulleungdo Trip small

Typhoon Day Blowhole Splatter 2014 Ulleungdo Trip small

The guide (left) was still a trooper and, with the help of the translator and our provincial EPIK coordinator (middle and right), told us all about our rain-swept educational locations.
The guide (left) was still a trooper and, with the help of the translator and our provincial EPIK coordinator (middle and right), told us all about our rain-swept educational locations.
A rock of special importance.
A rock of special importance.
A rock that looks like a sea serpent.
A rock that looks like a sea serpent.
A rock that looks like a slice of chocolate cake.
A rock that looks like a slice of chocolate cake.
Shrine which our guide explained was erected around the bones of two sacrificed children. The sides are painted with the story.
Shrine which our guide explained was erected around the bones of two sacrificed children. The sides are painted with their story.
The seas were too stormy and the sailors couldn't escape at risk of drowning.
The seas were too stormy and the sailors couldn’t escape at risk of drowning.
Captain had a dream that if they sacrificed two children, the storm would be appeased and allow them safe passage.
Captain had a dream that if they sacrificed two children, the storm would be appeased and allow them safe passage.
Following the dream, the sailors left two children on the island to die of exposure. The seas calmed and the sailors were able to make it back to the Korean mainland safely.
Following the dream, the sailors left two children, a brother and sister, on the island to die of exposure. The seas calmed and the sailors were able to make it back to the Korean mainland safely.
Much later, the sailors went back to look for the children to see if they survived. They instead found their skeletons locked in an embrace. The shrine was built around their bones in remembrance.
Much later, the sailors went back to look for the children to see if they survived. They instead found their skeletons locked in an embrace. The shrine was built around their bones in remembrance.
Turtle water fountain.
Turtle water fountain.
Stormy skies at our stop at the pumpkin factory (the other thing besides squid for which Ulleungdo is famous).
Stormy skies at our stop at the pumpkin factory (the other thing besides squid for which Ulleungdo is famous).
Another silhouette shot.
Another silhouette shot.
Storm obscured visibility as the clouds blew over the island.
Storm obscured visibility as the clouds blew over the island.

The next day everything had cleared up rather marvelously though! Sunrise broke through as if nothing had happened.

View from the balcony of our pension.
View from the balcony of our pension.

Unfortunately (for the few who had flights they needed to catch for the upcoming long weekend), because no ferries could get through the day before, Korean holiday traffic congested the ferries for the day. We managed to scrape together enough tickets to get those with dire prior arrangements off the island, but the rest of us were stuck.

Not that we were complaining; Between touring the island, learning valuable educational information, and getting to know all the awesome people on the trip, I couldn’t have had a better time.

We spent the extra day doing performances (part of the educational part of our trip) and choosing between various activities we could occupy ourselves with. I went for a walk to see the island’s famous waterfall with some other friends, but there were also options to go fishing and hiking along the volcanic cone of the island (I’d had enough of hiking volcanoes from Mount Fuji).

View of cauldron bay from top of lookout.
View of cauldron bay from top of lookout.
View of Ulleungdo harbour from top of lookout.
View of Ulleungdo harbour from top of lookout.
Brook on the way to waterfall.
Brook on the way to waterfall.
Wish stone piles that hikers build as they walk past.
Wish stone piles that hikers build as they walk past.
Tiny waterfalls in preparation for the big one.
Tiny waterfalls in preparation for the big one.
And the big waterfall, the highest one of the island.
And the big waterfall, the highest one of the island.

After we finished our tour, we got to explore the main port town of Ulleungdo.

Squids are proudly worked into the city's decorative infrastructure.
Squids are proudly worked into the city’s decorative infrastructure.
Vividly red brickwork.
Vividly red brickwork.
Selfie in tropically-coloured-fish tank reflection.
Selfie in tropically-coloured-fish tank reflection.
Fishing boat.
Fishing boat.
Lights on fishing boat. These attract the plankton which the squid eat which then makes catching the squid much easier.
Lights on fishing boat. These attract the plankton which the squid eat which then makes catching the squid much easier.
View of Ulleungdo harbour from deck of fishing boat which we were kindly enough allowed to stand on.
View of Ulleungdo harbour from deck of fishing boat which we were kindly enough allowed to stand on.
Fisherman preparing his boat.
Fisherman preparing his boat.
Last rays of the afternoon sun spilling through the valley onto the harbour.
Last rays of the afternoon sun spilling through the valley onto the harbour.

After that, we had much delicious pizza and spent the night playing more charades and generally enjoying the company of each other until we passed out.

And since I submitted a reflective write-up about our last day, I shall copy paste that here and make this a two-parter post!

To be continued tomorrow, mes amis.


6 thoughts on “Ulleungdo Photo Journal

  1. Quite a story about the sister and brother. One wonders how many times sacrifices to the gods of the sea may have been carried out through the millennia.

    And re your lightbulb caption — because I have a broken brain, here’s a modified comment that sprang instantly to mind:

    Lights on fishing boat. These attract the plankton which the squid eat which then makes catching the squid much easier, which in turn makes it much easier for the giant squid to catch the fishermen.

    Like

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