Thursday, June 13, 2013

How to get to Muuido

Looking for a weekend vacation on an island but still relatively close to home? Based on the other write-ups I’d seen, Muuido looked like a serene and peaceful place to relax far (but not too far) from normal life. This is the case if you aim your camera out to sea, away from the beach where Koreans are busy horse riding, zip-lining, barbecuing, and playing slightly inebriated volleyball, and expats are busy becoming fully inebriated and trying to recruit co-conspirators for their plot to build a forbidden bonfire. I still had a great time, regardless of my expectations. This could have been because some friends (NorCal and SoCal) brought me a strawberry-rhubarb pie for my birthday, but I digress. 

Most guides I read recommended taking the Airport Railroad Line to Incheon International Airport and taking a bus (#222, perhaps?) to the ferry landing. Our trip was a lot easier because NorCal’s Korean coworkers had informed her that on weekends, once an hour, the train runs on to another stop not shown on the line map: the still-in-progress Yongyu Station, which is not so much a station as a sidewalk where you disembark and make your way to a turnstile which you obligingly go through instead of just hopping over the chain that blocks off the road next to it. From there you may follow the parade of brightly-dressed hikers and vacationers for a walk of about 20 minutes to the ferry. This involves crossing a causeway and avoiding the occasional car. 

At the ferry terminal we got tickets at 3,000 won apiece, round trip, and waited a few minutes for the ferry (which had just departed) to come back. A man guarding the road to the ferry took our tickets (no return stub needed) and we got on board and claimed seats. The time spent actually moving across the water took about 5 minutes. 
When we reached land again we got off and spotted a bus waiting near the pier. An inquiry of “Hanagae?” revealed that this bus would get us there. Standing, clutching the overhead bar while trying not to suffocate, I was in for one of the most nauseating bus rides I’ve ever had, in Korea or elsewhere, as the bus jolted and bounced up and down hills and around hairpin turns. (This was probably exacerbated by the fact that I hadn’t had a proper breakfast and had a cinnamon bun en route instead.)  
Far from deserted, the island is covered in pensions and small farms. Our traumatized stomachs quieted when half the bus got off at the first stop and we snagged seats in the back. Hanagae Beach is pretty obvious and again, we followed the crowd after paying the 2,000 entrance fee. It was around 11.00 by now and we had heard that the beach houses would fill up fast, so we walked up to a likely counter and requested a “bungalow”. It was 30,000 won for the night, with a 10,000 won refundable deposit. We got cabin number 6, right in front. 
We didn’t leave Hanagae Beach for the duration of our stay because there was a lot of exploring to be done of the mud flats that appear with low tides, and the surrounding rock formations. 
All the muddy goodness you could ever hope to coat your legs in up to the knees!
Born to climb things barefoot!
As we got hungry, we rented a gas grill for about 5,000 won (this was accomplished by SoCal, who speaks very good Korean, although a passerby offered to help us until she realized we were getting on just fine), and bought the gas, food tongs, scissors, aluminum foil, and mesh grilling thing at the supply store. 
Yes, that’s my Guinness. 
The night was less than pleasant because we were trying to fit four people on and under the blankets we had arranged, which required us to all sleep in a relatively straight and uniform manner to fit, and I can’t fall asleep without substantial acrobatics. I’m also a chronic blanket-stealer, so I woke up every hour or so to squirm around and seize more of what was rightfully mine (although not according to my partner, who spend the better part of the morning under several layers trying to make up for it while the rest of us ate breakfast). 
We built a magnificent sand castle but failed to fill the moat because the tide was going out again. Around 14.00 we got back on the bus (seats this time!) and headed to the ferry where a group of inquisitive teenagers made me uncomfortable but that’s another story. When the ferry docked we meandered aboard and watched people feeding the seagulls until it was time to make the trek back to the train station where, sunburnt, sandy, and tired, we went home.
Muuido: thoughtfully composed of mountains guaranteed to ensure a hellish bus ride when standing, but worth enduring. 

Notes

  1. hagwonstyle posted this