Last weekend Nicole and I visited Sado Island with a bunch of friends. It’s a small island a few hours by ferry from Yeosu. Saturday morning Nicole and I packed up our things and took a bus to a cab to a ferry and two hours later we showed up on scenic Sado Island. The island is tiny. It takes maybe 30 minutes to walk all the way around the island. There are perhaps 40 people there, most of them seemingly over the age of 70. When we arrived on the island we also arrived on the only road on the island. Sado road. It’s about 1000 feet and it doesn’t really go anywhere. There was one car on the island, why? I don’t know.
The island is famous for its dinosaur footprints, fossils, and beautiful scenery. Scattered all over the island there are giant fiberglass dinosaurs. Walking around the island was like walking through Jurassic Park on pause. A great experience. We stayed at a minbok, a small guesthouse room where you sleep on blankets on the ground. The last time Nicole and I did that was nearly two years ago on Oedaldo. The proprietor of the minbok, an old woman who looked like she actually lived amongst the dinosaurs, met us at the concrete wall where the ferry dropped us off. She had a two-wheeled cart from the middle ages and offered to carry all of our luggage on it. We politely declined but she ignored us and put our bags in anyways. Off we went slowly following a woman old enough that she might have followed Moses through the deserts of Egypt. She led us to her minbok and gestured us towards our rooms. We unpacked and explored the island a bit. Half of our group was staying at the minbok and the other half was camping on the beach.
That night we met up with the rest of our group on the beach and cooked up some food on their campfire. There was only one store on the island and it was only open when the guy who owned it felt like opening it, so we brought all our food and supplies for the weekend and stocked up on bottled water when the owner decided he felt like opening the store.
Our whole trip was only two days, Saturday and Sunday but it was a blast. We hiked, cooked out on the beach and got to climb along the rocky shore of the island. I definitely recommend this island. It’s one of the most beautiful islands I’ve visited in Korea and one of the quietest as well. I plan to return there at some point before leaving Korea in August.
This year, Nicole and I are teaching in public school in a small town in South Korea. Our town is called Gwangyang. It’s in the Jeollanamdo province. The province is in the Southwest corner of South Korea. We live on the Eastern border of the province. It’s divided, by mountain, into two districts Dong Gwangyang and Gwangyang-Eup. I live in Dong Gwangyang.
The town isn’t very big. There are about 140,000 people. There’s a Pizza Hut and a Dominos, but other than that, no foreign chains, that I know of. There are little grocery stores, called “marts” and shops. There’s a place called Cacao Churro across the street from our apartment. Downtown there’s a large department store called HomePlus. It’s owned by TESCO and it’s where Nicole and I go to get anything we can’t find at the local grocery store, such as fine cheese and stuffed olives.[divider_flat]
Gwangyang, South Korea is perhaps most well known for POSCO, the local steel plant. It claims to be the largest facility of it’s kind in the world. This is quite possible considering it makes 18 million tons of steel per year. It’s a self-described “tourist trap”…no seriously, it’s on their Wikipedia page, although I think they’re using the term incorrectly. I haven’t seen any tours promoting the plant. Here’s a neat video below about POSCO steel.
On the weekends Nicole and I walk downtown from our apartment. It’s about 20 minutes. Downtown Nicole and I will stop into Flora’s, a local Korean-owned italian restaurant. Sometimes we’ll go to Goldfinger, named for the legend of King Midas, not the James Bond movie. It’s a little wine bar with exposed wood and brick. There’s another bar that many of the foreigners from Gwangyang and the surrounding cities visit, called String. It’s a good place to hang out, but nothing about it in particular stands out.
There’s a small but vibrant foreign community of about 20-40 people, although I only know about 15 of them. On weekends we get dinner together or visit String or Goldfinger. Sometimes we take weekend trips together to Gwangju or Busan. The community feels more tightly knit than in Gwangju since there are fewer of us. Overall, I really like living here.
For the past two years I have lived without keys. How? Living in Korea, I have no car. Boom! No car key. Every apartment I’ve ever lived in, in Korea, has had an electronic keypad lock. They’re really convenient and safe. Need a friend to stop by and water your plant? You don’t need to make a second key, just give them the code. Worried that someone knows your key code that shouldn’t? Just change your key code.