Chuseok Holiday Weekend Trip: Ulleung-do, South Korea

The last weekend in September was a major Korean holiday, Chuseok, which is said to be comparable to American Thanksgiving. Although the actual day of Chuseok is only celebrated on one day, school was out on Monday and Tuesday, which gave me an extended 4-day weekend.

Although I’ve been itching to travel outside of Korea, I decided to not venture off too far because of the short amount of time given. I signed up to join a travel group to Ulleung-do, an island east of Korea’s mainland. I typically like to plan my own travel, but Korea often makes it difficult to book tickets and accommodations unless you are a native. For this reason, I opted to pay 295,000 KRW (~$295) for Seoul Hiking Group to provide bus travel, ferry tickets to and from, accommodation, a few small meals, and also lead us to the island’s must see places.

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The ferry boat.

To put a long story short, this trip was one of the most unorganized trips I have ever been on. First off, there was no “trip leader” to help guide the group of 40 people who paid to go. More than half the time, people were confused about where to go and there was no one to get answers from. Luckily, the only guy who could speak Korean stepped up and volunteered to help lead the group.

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I knew nothing about Ulleung-do prior to coming on this trip, and I still know very little about it. But if I had to sum up the island in a few words based on observation, I’d say they’re big on pumpkin, squid, and rock formations that look like animals or human genitals. The salty water surrounding the island is a gorgeous blend of blues and greens.

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Can you see the turtle behind me?

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Climbed up on turtle rock.

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Squid racks, a common sight here!

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In front of the Pumpkin Goodies factory!

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Pumpkin makgeolli, rice wine.

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Korean Sweet Pumpkin Rice Punch (Sikhye 식혜)

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Awesome views

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Buddhist temple stop during the bus tour!

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The “beach” @ sunset.

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Korean flags galore!

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KOREAN FACT: DOKDO IS KOREAN TERRITORY. I wonder what the Japanese think…lol

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Last day by the seaside!

The scenes are picturesque and yet somehow I found myself feeling unpleased. I kept comparing what I was seeing to what I have seen before in other places, and my appreciation for it was lacking. I knew I shouldn’t compare, because each place has its own uniqueness that should be revered but I just couldn’t seem to kick my salty attitude to the curb. Maybe it was a buildup of shitty sleep on rock hard floors, dingy bathrooms, annoyances with the travel group, and more notably the 20+ mosquito bites all over my face and body that had me scratching like a crack feign.

I knew that the main reason for my misery on this trip was all in my head. I’ve been dealing with bigger stresses and negative feelings that I have tried to suppress, and they often resurface at the most inconvenient of times. I tried my best to enjoy Ulleung-do, which required me to break away from the group at times to explore not only my physical surroundings, but also my own restless mind.

I had to remind myself that sometimes the best kind of vacation involves doing absolutely nothing, rather than trying to do everything.

Well, even though it wasn’t the best trip ever…I did enjoy some of the bomb Korean fried chicken! When all else fails, turn to fried food!

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The BEST boneless chicken I’ve ever had! Gangjeong Chicken from BHC, Better & Healthier Chicken restaurant chain.

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Crispy, light fried boneless chicken strips with fries!

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Basket of fried goodness: KFC, Korean Fried Chicken.

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Last meal in Ulleung-do was Donkatsu, fried pork cutlet.

Thanks for reading and watching 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Chuseok Holiday Weekend Trip: Ulleung-do, South Korea

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