Thursday, October 06, 2011

Ulleungdo? I Ulleungdid!!

Ulleungdo (pronounced like ooh-lung-doe, as in doe, a deer...) is an island 100 kilometers or so off of the Korean peninsula. Don't worry that you have never heard of it. There are other islands off of the Korean peninsula you have probably not heard of, such as Jeju, a popular travel destination for honeymooners and other travelers around these parts that the U.S.-Korean military industrial complex partnership wants to spoil with a giant useless violent military base, and Dokdo, which is really more of an islet or, you know, rock that is nonetheless extremely important to Koreans who repeatedly remind anyone who is listening that "Dokdo is Korea!" Which is to say, Dokdo is not Japan's. Apparently some small right wing extremist part of the Japanese population actually cares about perpetuating the fight over these rocks in the East Sea (not called the Sea of Japan here!), thus firing up the entire Korean population, while the rest of the world remains blissfully ignorant that Dokdo exists at all, much less that there is a fight over which country it "belongs" to. Korean students will look you in the eye and tell you that Dokdo is an important international issue, and you feel kind of bad telling them that while Kim Jong-Il and the North/South tensions and nuclear threats (real or imagined) are top global issues, Dokdo actually might rank somewhere around 3,675th.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I was in Ulleungdo. For the three-day weekend. October 3rd was a holiday here in Korea, Foundation Day, so we had a three-dayer and Brian and I hopped the ferry from Mukho harbor to Ulleungdo with the Climbing in Korea Meetup group. I like islands, and I liked this one. It was a very Lost-y island, with less sand and beach, but about the right size and cliffs and rocks and an adjacent smaller island and natural beauty and mountainous bits and a waterfall and a basin.  It used to be a volcano. Or, it was formed from a volcano. You geologists let me know the proper way to describe that. Maybe both.

Among our Ulleungdo activities we rode a cable car, gazed in the direction of Dokdo but did not have a clear enough day to see it 90 km away, ate honghapbap, slept in a minbak across the street from the water with the other folks from the group, saw a whooooole lot of squid being dried/eaten, saw the bright lights of the squid fishing boats at night that lure the squid to their doom, and climbed Seonginbong, the highest peak on the island.  The 984-meter elevation hike was the main adventure, although that was a very full day (Sunday) because after our hike we did a bunch of other walking, sanchae bibimap eating, rock gazing, oncheon bathing, and relaxing. We explored the villages of Dodong-ri and Jeodong-ri and Cheonbu-ri and Sadong-ri while we were there. All in all, a good time was had on the island although our best laid plans for returning went agley when the ferry was delayed due to sea conditions, so once we got back to the mainland we couldn't get back to Andong Monday night and instead had to stay the night in Gangneung, on the coast north of Donghae/Mukho, and then take the 6 a.m. train back to Andong Tuesday morning. Good times, just like when I got trapped on Catalina Island off the coast of California for a night and had to call in sick to work. Or, rather, call in trapped-on-an-island. I was afraid that might happen again. Why am I always getting stuck on not-so-desert islands?

Ulleungdo! Just Ulleung-do it!


Lauren @ Pure Text said...

Lol! Well now that I've read this post, I can truthfully say I am aware of this hot debate. Haha.

Anyway, many aren't fully aware of even the major issues in the world. The deterioration of the environment and famine must rank high, right? Lol. ;P

(In all seriousness, though, these are issues I care a lot about.)

Anonymous said...

Linda, thanks for the travelog. sounds like just enough adventure. Glad you're having a good stay in Korea and getting to know many things about the area. Knowledge is power. It is fascinating how countries fight over land (or water) and borders. I just heard about a region between Finland and Russia which has been claimed by both. Geography was always one of my favorite subjects. When mixed with politics, it gets real intriguing. Take care. Can't wait for your next adventure. Dad.