Lost in Korea: Escaping the City

Solo Travel, south korea, Working Abroad — By on April 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm

by Kissairis Munoz

When you’ve lived in cities for long enough, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the fast-paced, hectic lifestyle that comes along. Crammed sidewalks; people jostling each other on the subway; noisy, crowded restaurants — they’re all part of what make cities unique. But every once in a while, it’s nice to take a breather and head out of town. It’s refreshing heading to a place where life is a bit calmer, the air is cleaner, and people are more relaxed.

Samcheok at sunrise

Living so close to Seoul, I get caught in the high-energy pace of the capital quite often. And while I’m a city rat at heart, sometimes I need to just decompress. So this weekend I headed with my running group for a race in Samcheok, a charming town on the eastern coast about four hours from Seoul. As our bus pulled to a stop, I couldn’t get over how lovely the view before me was. Blue water that left me wishing it was July and not April. Tons of fresh seafood stands selling everything from salmon to stingrays. And, most noticeably, no traffic! I could feel the stress I didn’t even realize I was carrying evaporating.

The weekend was spent eating Korean food and sampling the local seafood, which ranged from fish to stingrays to squid. We visited Hwanseongul Cave, the largest lime
stone cave in Korea, which comes complete with a “Bridge of Love” and “Valley of Death.” That evening, I lounged in my motel room — which was larger than my entire apartment — and indulged in having a bathtub and a queen-sized bed. In the morning, I woke up at 6 am to catch the sunrise over the water from my balcony. Later that morning, we enjoyed warmer temperatures than we’d left in Seoul, with tons of sunshine beating down on us. We ran the race with a view of the ocean and celebrated afterward.

inside Hwanseongul Cave

It definitely was not the most exciting weekend I’ve ever had. But it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in Korea. I got to breathe fresh air and relax. I had a ton of laughs with new friends. I saw a part of the country I hadn’t visited before, where everyone was friendly and welcoming. And while it was great returning back to all the creature comforts (I was definitely craving a coffee shop!), it’s so great to know that just a short bus ride away, you can take a break from it all, even for a night.

 

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