Beach & Coastal Walking, Korea
Comments 6

A Sucker for a Sunset

Funny how I always seem to be walking north. Well, until I reach the end and turn around…

Exams from Thursday till yesterday meant a nice, relaxing few days at work — for me. Exams over, student motivation plummets even lower than usual — and mine with it. My goal is to do nothing in class but play movies for the next month, and little between lessons but read, write, edit and post. Prepare for a Goat that Wrote tsunami! 

Meanwhile, in the real world, I am beginning to wind up my affairs here in the Orient. Part of that is saying goodbye to my favourite local landmarks and paths. On Sunday I did a nice farewell hike up Big Ass Mountain. The golden autumnal weather just goes on and on, unbeatable rambling conditions. Let’s hope it hangs in there.

Another part is dusting out the archives of unpublished Korean material while there’s still time, starting with the weekend before last, one of the top three or four in Korea for me. Really delightful weather, walking and experiences…

*          *          *          *          *

Saturday. An early start and I reached Haeundae Beach to find there were far more gulls than people, just the way I like it. This one’s for Kate, who adores seabirds, sometimes referring to them as “angel poultry”:

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That headland is Dalmaji, my next landmark. That angel chicken answers to Dave.

After a (passable) coffee and (terrible) muffin for (second) breakfast, dodging a fusillade of birdshit while I ate, I headed north up the sand…

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Looking south, Haeundae

..and hit the road for a short climb up up the hill…

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Last leaves on the old cherry trees along the road

..to the attractively pine-forested Dalmaji headland, with its winding paths crowded with volcanically vibrant flocks of middle-aged walkers.

I always split down the side-path with the eye-catching NO ENTRY sign, cross the train tracks where it warns in Korean not to cross the tracks, and detour for a coffee and Third Breakfast at the inappropriately enormous coffee joint hulking over the tiny fishing port of Cheongsapo.

That’s right, another coffee. I was actually too early — my day’s destination was a mere hour away. No point rushing things, let’s linger a while and take in the views:

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Cheongsapo Waterfront

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The boat’s name is Haeseungi

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Shakedown on the Waterfront

I’ve done this walk half a dozen times in the last two years. When I saw the weather forecast on Wednesday or Thursday I knew I had to make the most of it.  This route, a nice change from hills and mountains, was my first choice. It’s not spectacular, but quiet and pleasant, with flashes of more dramatic scenery and the always-fascinating ports.

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Hangin’ out at the seaside

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Sea Monster

It was a pleasingly melancholy stroll northwards in the afternoon sun. There was another reason I was taking my sweet time: I knew this would be my last journey here, probably my last time on the Korean coast. And I’ve done so much coastal walking over the last decade, I inevitably slip into languid nostalgia for escapades in Australia, Japan — or here in Korea. Pretty soon my stride is dwindling in concert with my thoughts.

In August last year this was the start of my 12- or 13-day trek up the coast, almost to the North Korean border. I still think of that as one of the best walks of my life, and am amazed I pulled it off — and that I can still walk after a dozen 12-hour days of asphalt trauma to my long-suffering feet.

And then there was my aborted plan for the escapade with the liberated dogs. They would have loved this…

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One of the thousands of disused army pillboxes that litter the coast & hills. Songjeong Beach in the distance.

There’s a tradition in Korea of middle-aged (or older) women doing the diving for anything edible that can be garnered from the seabed. Several divers were at work as I meandered north. This was the spot I saw a couple of women engaged in shamanistic rituals on the rocks on an early visit:

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Rock Shoes

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Coming Up for Air

I got into Songjeong Beach, Haeundae’s smaller, quieter, more “family-oriented” northern neighbour, and tried without success to track down the joint I’d stayed in last time. At last I gave up and took my chances at the Kuhn Motel. 60,000 won (“It’s the weekend!”), and…

“You are too early! Please come back at eight o’clock!”

I sighed and moaned and bitched till she conceded — for a surcharge of 10,000 won. Songjeong is a tiny town and I’ve walked it a hundred different ways. I wanted a shower and a base before continuing my wandering.

Freshened up, digs sorted, I went back to the waterfront, first to another tiny port…

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..and then to the rocks on the north end of the crescent-shaped beach, preparing for what was sure to be a killer sunset.

And it was. I spent an absorbing hour dancing over the rocks, dodging fishermen and errant waves, reminding myself as dark descended that one misplaced step could mean the end of both my expensive gear and my walking career.

It was a beautiful, quietly joyous evening, and I’ll leave you with a few mementos of a Saturday night well spent:

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Didn’t notice that pussy till I was editing!

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Seafood tent & views southward

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Next post: And if you think that SUNSET was good…

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

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6 Comments

  1. I like all the photos in this series, especially the one with Dave the angel. Beautiful autumn light at the ocean during the day and at sunset!

    • Thanks, Am! Sorry I’m a bit behind with your blog and those of several others. Just putting the next post together with a bunch of dawn shots that I’m really proud of.

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