Most blogs about Ulleung talk about its beautiful sunrise and sunset. This too will be one of those blogs but the actual story is a little bit more!
The weather has finally started to move away from freezing and clear skies were predicted today. So I thought it would be a fantastic time to get up early and take in the sunrise. My destination was the Haengnam Lighthouse which has a great viewing platform over Jeodong and the East. There are 2 ways that I know how to reach this point, either through the Haengnam Forest Walk or along the sea walkway from the Dodong ferry terminal, which had recently opened.
I felt like a walk through the forest to get there and then a stroll on the walkway to go home. Monique and I had been on a late-night walk on the walkway so I didn’t think there would be any problems using it!
Leaving to catch the sunrise
Quietly sneaking out of bed at 5am, sunrise was set for 6:16am, I set off on my mini-adventure in the chilly morning air. The downside of doing the forest walk is the horrendous uphill to get you onto the mountain. I don’t think Korean trail-makers were ever introduced to the concept of walking along contours as most paths I’ve done are straight up and back down again! I pushed through the burn and made it up to the forest. The best thing about going out so early is that there is no one else, you have the place to yourself.
And then you think of every horror movie you ever saw in a forest and cue instant-regret! Luckily I had the foresight to take a torch because the forest was pitch-black despite the clear, starry sky. The walk takes about 40 minutes to an hour and is about 2.2km. There is nothing flat about it and pretty much the whole thing is just up and down! It is very calming in an exhausting way and I’d recommend it to anybody feeling energetic.
I got to the platform just before 6 and the sky already had the orange horizon of sunrise. You can look over Jeodong and watch as the sun slowly brushes over the mountains in the background. I had a special treat with a dusting of snow still on the furthest peak. After 45 minutes of soaking up the view and the rolling calm of the ocean I decided to head home.
I took the path that leads down to the walkway, the sunrise was visible through the trees the whole way and opened up again when I got down to the beach. It is high up there with the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen. The gate to the walkway was open so I started along the path without a second thought. It is only just over a 1km back to the ferry terminal so I took my time, stopping to photograph and enjoy the scenery.
As I neared the gate back to the terminal though my heart sank. The gate was closed. Upon closer inspection is was pretty well locked too…
I toyed with just climbing over but there is a cctv camera right there and being pretty recognisable as one of the few waygooks on the island I decided I probably shouldn’t. This is now 7am and I must say I’m surprised the walkway was still locked. It was getting late and I needed to get back in time for school. I was pretty tired from all the walking so far and I had about 3km along a walkway and up a mountain to get back. Quickly messaging Monique to say I would be a little late, I started to jog.
If anybody had been around they would have been treated to quite an extensive range of expletives. Somehow I managed to make the whole trip back in just under 40 minutes. My whole round trip was around 6.5km and nearly 3 hours; it may not sound huge but at my current state of fitness and the general steepness of everything it is quite bit! My legs are aching and I’m pretty done for today but it was worth it for the view. 10/10 would do it again but maybe next time I’ll start at the walkway to see if it is open!