Our transit from Sokcho almost began in the worst possible way! We had stowed our bags underneath the intercity bus when the driver decided that he’d waited long enough and took off down the road!! The two of us and a helpful local attempted to keep up with the accelerating vehicle, all the while banging on the side of the moving bus and yelling at the top of our voices to get him to stop. Thankfully he finally realised and slowed down to let us on, otherwise our bags would have ended up goodness knows where!
Our destination on this sunny day was the seaside city of Gangneung. It took us a while, but we eventually worked out why we kept getting blank stares when we told people this city was on our itinerary. For some reason in Korean the ‘G’ at the start is actually pronounced like a ‘K’, with the whole word sounding like ‘Kung-noong’ (kind of), whereas we had been saying ‘Gung-nyoong’…just one of the many linguistic idiosyncracies we’ve come across on this holiday!
We caught a taxi from the bus terminal to our accommodation for the next few nights, Hotel November. This hotel was one of the most unexpected little gems and deserves its own separate blog entry…so more to come on that later!
As we had arrived in the early afternoon, we took the opportunity to go for a walk up Yeong-jin beach to the district known as Jumunjin, famous for its extensive and boisterous fish market.
What an overwhelming experience! Weaving through the narrow aisles, planks underfoot occasionally insufficient in protecting your feet from the briny waters roiling underneath, elbows an essential weapon in maintaining forward momentum in the throng, always at risk of the occasional wet slap on the arm by a fish in its final death throes. Mongers on all sides spruiking the freshness of their goods and imploring even a couple of clueless westerners to make a sale; this was an insight into the heart and soul of coastal Korea.
Some may find the scenario quite confronting. You WILL see fish, eels, squid or shellfish die in front of you, either under the knife or floating belly up due to a lack of interest. The smells are at times intense. Your ears will be assaulted by a cacophony of competing voices. It is here that the veil between consumer and producer is at its most transparent, an experience seemingly deemed either too confronting or unhygienic in an Australian supermarket. It’s easier that way isn’t it?
Exploring the epicentre of Korean seafood, we couldn’t help but have some fish for lunch at one of the numerous restaurants along the waterfront. A good feed, notwithstanding one extremely spicy side dish as Karen found out in quite dramatic circumstances! The culprit is the dish in the middle of the photo below. It looked quite innocent. Perhaps a cabbage and mayonnaise dressing? It turns out that it was some sort of fish in a sauce comprising a ridiculously high percentage of hot English mustard!!! The full sequence of a dozen or so shots of Karen sneezing and crying her eyes out had us in stitches for ages afterwards!
While walking back along the beach I happened to notice an interesting sight…
It may be a little hard to make out, but that’s actually a military post on the right hand side, with two blokes manning the guns in the tower. These guard posts dot the coast line at very frequent intervals, given the close proximity to the North Korean border. Quite a contrast to what you’d see up a tower on an Australian beach!
Later that evening I spent some time at the hotel taking photos of the squid boats out on the horizon. Their lights were so bright that they lit up the whole night sky!
When it comes to photography I’ve always had a bit of an abstract bent, and I think these shots are a good example of that style. What do you think? Preference for either landscape or portrait? Let me know!