Ulsan Day Trip

This past weekend, I went on a day trip to Ulsan with a couple of friends.  The original plan was to visit the Toilet Museum in Suwon, but MERS threw us off.  MERS has been spreading rapidly, and many government officials are overreacting to the news.  Academies have shut down for the next few weeks, which means the kids are euphoric.  Events and exams are cancelled.  I saw a video of a near empty department store in Seoul.  That is unheard of.  I’m torn, because it’s nice to see that they’re taking it seriously, but some of these actions are useless.

Anyway, back to the trip!  I’m very glad we decided to go to Ulsan instead.  I’d been meaning to visit for a few months now.

To get to Ulsan from Daegu, you have two main options-bus or train. Either way, you will want to get to Dong Daegu Station. You can get there on the subway, line 1, or take a bus.  The train station is on one side of the street(by subway exit 1), and the bus terminals are just across from it. You can’t miss them.

Bus

Bus Station: Daegu Kumho Cheonil (대구금호, 천일)

Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.

Price: I didn’t take the bus, but it should be no more than 8,000 won.

KTX Train

Train Station: Dong Daegu

Time: 1 hour

Price: around 8,500 won

Once you get to the train station, that’s when the confusion begins.  In Daegu, when you get off the train, you’re in the middle of the city.  There’s a subway station right next door, and buses coming through every few minutes.  It’s probably one of the easiest cities to navigate in Korea.  Not so with Ulsan.

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You arrive at a very nice train station, but it’s in the middle of nowhere.  You’re only option is to get on a bus to another part of the city.  Ulsan differs from Daegu in it’s layout too.  The most appropriate word for Ulsan is dispersed.  Little pockets of the city are spread out through the mountains.  Daegu is in a small valley, nestled on every side by mountains.  Yes that means there’s less flat land to work with, but it also means it only takes you around an hour on bike to get from one side to the next.  Or maybe I ride too recklessly.  Hmm.

To get to the Ilsan beach, I recommend taking one of the express buses.  It will cost 3,000 won, but you’ll save a lot of hassle.  The beach wasn’t our original destination.  We went out searching for bamboo forests and bridges.

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 Taehwa River Grand Park is about an hour and a half away on one the regular city buses.

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We arrived before noon.  As is common in Korea, not many people are out on their business in the morning.  Coffee shops don’t even open till 9 or 10.  A few families and some hikers joined us on the path, but there was plenty of breathing room. The park is a nice break from the city.  I’d love to rent a bike and ride around here someday!

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There was an art installation at the end of the trail.  It reminded me of the Contemporary Art Museum in Seoul.

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After a delicious Korean fried chicken lunch, we headed for the beach. This meant another crazy bus ride.  I panicked and got on the first one that had showed up on my Naver app.  The others followed me onto the bus. Maybe they actually thought I knew what I was doing.  This is never the case.  When I looked at my phone again, I saw that we would have to transfer!  I was so annoyed with myself, so I spent a good fifteen minutes downloading the local bus app and checking if there was any way we could stay on this bus.  It luckily worked out, but I need some impulse control.  Especially when I’m out of my element, I tend to choose a path and start running.  Usually in the wrong direction.

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We finally made it to the beach!

Each beach I’ve visited in Korea has it’s own quirks.  Busan reminds me of Southern California.  Teongyeong is gorgeous, with lots of islands dotting the surf.  Pohang has the hand statue rising from the water.  Ulsan’s beach comes across as a camper’s paradise.

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Just look at all of those tents.

We walked around the beach, taking pictures, and skipping stones that were too large to jump.  I really enjoy being by the water, whether it’s a river or the seaside.  It makes a nice break from the weekday routine.

Someone brought up a park(Daewangam Songnim) that was nearby, so we headed in that direction after walking along the boardwalk.  There’s a staircase up some wooded hills.  A motion sensor CCTV camera followed us as we got onto the stairs.  If anyone has played any of the Portal games, it totally reminded me of Glados!

We reached a gorgeous view after the hike up the hills.

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A diver!  I haven’t seen one before in Korea.  I do know that Jeju has it’s own “mermaids”-older women that still go diving.

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This is where the divers were bringing in their catch.

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A good reminder that while you are watching people, they are doing the same to you!  I didn’t even notice her until I enhanced the photo.

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I kept saying “Ooh!” at every site.  Must have looked like such a crazy tourist.

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There are feral cats living on the island.  I want to make a picture book about them.

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You see these locks frequently at Korean tourism sites.  From what I understand, couples lock them on in the hopes that they will stay together forever.

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Ulsan Dolphin says no smoking on the water.

After this, we took the 2002 express bus back to the train station, and made it back to Daegu in time to take the subway. What a day!

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