We’ve been spending the last few days in the lap of luxury – a timeshare resort just 32 km (18 miles) from the DMZ in the far North East of South Korea. When we arrived here – after a 7.5 hour bus ride from Busan – I have to admit to being conflicted. On one hand – the resort had polished marble floors – and the check-in counter had 3 staff – in uniform. Honestly – I thought the taxi cab driver had taken us to the wrong place.
The ‘resort’ is huge – 5 floors of suites – mostly 1 bedroom, some 2 bedrooms – 2 restaurants, a tiny CU (Korean Convenience store that sells some groceries and veggies along with dozens of different brands of instant noodle soups and ‘chips’), an Ocean Spa, and a conference center. Quite the change from where we’ve been staying, I’ll tell you. The resort is directly on a soft sandy beach. Our suite is on the 5th floor and features a partial kitchen – which in Korea means a 3/4 size fridge, a sink, and a 2 burner hot plate. No microwave, no toaster, no dishwasher (but that’s ok – there are only a few dishes anyway), and a tiny garbage can. The bathroom is a palace in comparison to what we’ve been enjoying – the shower has a glass pane that separates it from the toilet and sink. Oh Luxury! Our generous sized bedroom even has a closet – something else we’ve been doing without for the past 3 weeks. Our balcony overlooks the East Sea – and we’ve been enjoying the sound of the waves as we go to bed each night.
So why the conflicted feelings? Well for starters – everywhere we’ve stayed up till now has provided shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, unlimited towels, and a fully stocked kitchen with salt and pepper, oil, butter, jam, and chili paste. At Kim’s House we even had plastic wrap, at the Agit – there was ham and eggs, even the traditional house provided unlimited white bread and coffee. But here – nothing is provided besides little bars of soap, 2 frying pans, and dishes for 4. It’s pretty bare in comparison – and that’s a shock. And the location is great for the beach – but a long (1 km) walk into the village if you don’t want to eat at the restaurants at the hotel. And they are, in Korean terms, quite expensive. And worse – they are buffets – ie: All you can eat. My least favorite option. A large grocery store is a 30 minute bus ride away, as is the town of Sokcho. So we feel a bit isolated.
Worst thing is the internet – its free – but you have to go to the ‘library’ to use it – the signal doesn’t reach the rooms. Quite a shock from free high-speed all thru the house like all the other places we’ve stayed.
But after a few days – the pleasure of enough space, and a private kitchen, a private balcony, a private bedroom and a private bathroom make the annoyances feel less important. The walk to the village for a delicious BBQ lunch seems just part of the fun, and exploring the largish fish market a hoot. The fish market features crabs, octopus, and flounder in huge numbers – all fresh and swimming around. If you don’t buy them today – they just feed them, and you can buy them tomorrow! This is really fresh fish. It looks great. We just need to figure out how to get some to eat at home!
And the beach is wonderful, particularly now that we are traveling in a much larger group – Jill’s son, daughter-in-law, grand-son Marcel (5) and grand-daughter Sophie (3 months) have joined us – and the trip is now one of family not traveler. But still fun!
The weather has been strange – hot, than cold (I wore everything I brought – at the same time), wet and rainy, then sunny but seriously breezy. But we’ve gotten in a walk every day – and eaten some amazing Korean take-out including a sweet and spicy fried chicken the defies description except to say I love it – but it makes my mouth burn! One night Blanche and Chris even treated us to deep-fried Shrimp (cooked complete – including the head and shell)), deep-fried peppers stuffed with pork, and the very traditional Korean Sundae – a sausage made by stuffing Squid with pork and rice. Don’t ask me why it’s called a Sundae – it’s one of many mysteries here in Korea.
So good food, good company, amazing fireworks every night – and lots of space. I can learn to enjoy this.
Signing off – The Intrepid Traveler and the Soup Lady