Korea is home to some 3,000 islands; from the honeymoon paradise of Jeju to the controversial and disputed Dokdo (Takeshima in Japan). Most of these are small, uninhabited outcrops help form the gloriously intricate coastline of the Korean peninsula. Many of the usually larger islands are home to small communities that survive off a mix of fishing, salt production and sometimes tourism.
Graced with our second long weekend (Memorial Day this time) we set off to explore one of these little specks. Our destination was Muuido (do = island), a small popular island, found in the shadow of Incheon International Airport. Sarah and I were joined on this adventure by our intrepid friends: Erin, Grace, Jill, Bokang and eventually David.
We planned to meet at Incheon Airport around midday on Saturday, and from there we would head on to Muuido. Those who live in Korea for any period of time will quickly learn that there is zero chance that a group of people will ever arrive on time to a place at a pre-arranged time. Things just take longer here. You either live with this or go mad. As a punctual person, this is slowly killing me.
Once we all finally arrived at the airport, we set off to Muuido. Now as I have said previously on this blog going places in Korea take a little longer than at home. Muuido is 5km from the airport, but it takes about 1 hour to get there. This trip is a little adventure in itself. A short bus ride takes you to the small island of Jamjindo, crossing a narrow and rather frightening causeway on the way. We then boarded a ferry, the only connection to the mainland, with people, cars and even a few coaches.
We made our way to Hanagae Beach, via a bus so packed I’m surprised it was able to move. Hanagae Beach was to be our base for our time on the island. The accommodation of choice for western visitors on the island is three rows of huts that line up along the beach. These huts are 2mx2m and lack all services but electricity. As is common across the country, the beach itself is packed with Koreans and their out of this world camping set-ups. Seriously these people take camping to another level!!!!
Hanagae Beach itself is a victim of its success and location. This is not a beach any of us were used to. Rubbish along the water line, overly imposing tourist activities, and local restaurants catching tonights dinner. This was quite confronting at first.
However, all this changed once we settled in on the beach and waited for the tide to go out. As the sun began to set, the tide slowly began to inch back from the beach. What was once water became land: in total almost 2km of new land emerges. This new land is flooded by man and beast alike: seagulls hunting for any critters left behind, humans out to net a bag of clams, crabs utilising the shallow waters for mating, and tourists hunting for that perfect Instagram worthy shot.
After our walk to the horizon, we were starving. Lucky for us our appetites were easily addressed. A Korean BBQ restaurant opens out straight onto the beach, Bali style. A hearty feed of pork belly (Samgyeopsal) and Korean seafood pancake lined the stomach for the soju that was to come. PS. Bokang finally arrived after a rather lengthy journey to find us.
The next morning we were greeted with another receding tide. So please enjoy some more amazing photos.
Before heading home we headed to Gwangmyeonghang Port to enjoy the beauty of Somuuido (Little Muuido Island). Also, our friend David went there by mistake so we had to rescue him as well. Sunday was easily the busiest day on the island, and if we thought the bus was packed the day before we were in for a surprise.
Somuuido was a glorious little island with a strong fishing village vibe and beautifully devoid of cars. We soothed our hunger at a lovely little restaurant where we sampled some local dishes. The battered prawns were the best I’ve ever had! This place had some serious ‘batter game’
Our trip home was a difficult one as usual. The crowds at Somuuido meant we couldn’t get on the first bus, even when they packed a good 30 more people than they should have onboard. The trip back to the ferry was blocked by traffic, the driver gesturing that it would be much quicker to walk the last 1.5km. Once we made it back to the mainland it was clear that another trek would be required to the main road, traffic again causing the buses to not bother coming down all the way. We eventually made it back to the airport and headed off our various ways using the glorious airport limousine buses.
**I will add in detailed instructions on how to get to Muuido in the near future**