Monday, January 17, 2011

Rock islands in the south sea - Haegeumgang

Down south of the Korean peninsula lies emerald waters adorned with weather-worn islands of rock cliffs and pine trees. This natural spectacular wonder is familiarly called the Hallyeosudo (한려수도), i.e. the Hallyeo Waterways, and formally Hallyeohaesang National Park.

As 2010 was drawing to a close, I made a trip to breathe in the cold winter sea and reflect on the passing year.

(Click on picture for bigger view)
Haegeumgang (해금강, 海金剛) is a series of rock islands in the seas of Geoje. Although it can be confused as a 'gang' (강, river) with the name Haegeum, it's actually named after the breathtakingly beautiful Geumgang mountains. The 'hae' (sea) indicates that the islands are the marine version of their counterparts on land. If you're Korean, the Geumgang mountains are always hailed as one of those places you have to see before you die, but since the mountains are in the North with ever-changing tourism policies, Haegeumgang may be the nearest thing that you'll be able to see.
In order to reach the islands, you go by ferry. The ferries leave from a port that is shared with village fishing boats.

You buy the tickets from the cozy ticket office. I love the atmosphere of these places - so friendly and homey.

Our boat was called "Sea Travel 2". A truly no frill name...

...but with a frilly inside. To the left of the captain (who was very, very loquacious) was an assortment of snacks, disposable cameras, water and other goods which he kept hawking over the loudspeaker. I wondered if captains on the other ferries were doing as hilarious and an ineffective job as he was.

People were allowed on the side deck to take photographs. The deck was so narrow that we were standing single file, but I managed to place my skinny behind on the ledge and hold on to the barrier while shooting.
The boat ride and entry to the famous cave inside the rock island:

Close to the ferry port is a rocky cliff where you can climb and view the waves, called Shinsundae (신선대), "the place where gods dwell".

I took my mini Kuma on this trip. People were on the beach collecting seashells for souvenirs.
The sun was just setting. Probably my favorite time of the day.

Official site for Korea National Parks


Sy's Prints said...

beautiful pictures, would love to visit South Korea one day.

seoulsuzy said...

@ Sy's Prints : Please do! I'm sure you'll find lots to enjoy.