Through the City, to the Sea

Having already been in Ulsan for over two weeks without yet making it to the coast, I decided to remedy this situation on Sunday. Having the entire day open, I figured I would walk, and so set off fro my apartment due east-ish, determined not to stop until I got to the ocean. It turns out it’s a bit of a trek from the city center to the coast, but the route is rather interesting…

Leaving my apartment, I came across these guys. I didn’t want to interrupt, but it was just too tempting a photo opportunity…
a couple of grasshoppers...caught in the act?

First, I headed south along the Dongcheongang River.
Fishermen along the river

The Taehwa was lined with fishermen…
Fisherman in the Taehwa

…and cranes…
Leaving city center

…which gave way to the giant Hyundai plant between Jung-gu and Dong-gu. I noticed all of the bicyclists passing me were wearing masks – which isn’t uncommon, but it seemed like even more than normal suddenly. Maybe it was just an effect of seeing the plant and all the masks, but I felt like I could really feel the pollution in the air. Gross.

Approaching Dong-gu (the eastern part of the city), I came across a mountain! And so climbed over it…
Climbing over a 'mountain'
(It was actually a very tiny mountain, at 206m tall – a big hill really. But still! I climbed over Mt. Yeompo!)

On the other side of the mountain was a small reservoir, where yet another fisherman was camped out.
Past a small secret reservoir...

There were some hula hoops near by, just in case…
...where there were some hula hoops...

...and then a bunch of small farms

I exited the mountain through a bunch of small farms, where I was stopped by an old man.
“Hello!” He called.
“Hello! Annyeong haseyo!” I called back.
He then seemed to just repeatedly say “Wo-man-wo-man-wo-man-wo-man” at me, several times. In a very friendly, old man, not really at all creepy way. I just kind of smiled and continued on my way…

…where I came across another one of these awesome spiders! This time in yellow!
Another crazy-looking spider devouring something
I think he has two insects that he’s devouring, right? I can’t tell.

This cute dolphin is Ulsan’s mascot, but I think it’s a sure sign I’m getting close to the ocean.
Cute bricks closer to the ocean

And finally! I arrive at Ilsan Beach, approximately 2 and a half hours after leaving my apartment.

Arriving at the ocean!

The beach is also lined with fishermen.
More fishermen

Hung out to dry?
Drying?

Ilsan Beach

Looking out from Ilsan Beach, I wonder if I can get to that rocky part covered with trees over there on the right…
Ilsan Beach

…And the answer is yes. I’ve actually made it to one of Ulsan’s 12 ‘scenic attractions’ – Daewangam Songnim, or Pine Forest.

In the forest, I’m greeted by the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” playing out of these two random speakers tied to one of the pines. It’s rather surreal…
'Psycho Killer'

Ilsan Beach
The beach from above (most all of those dots on the beach are fishermen)

Ilsan Beach - Hyundai Plant
Another Hyundai Plant.

A forest of pine trees overlooks the ocean...

The park is absolutely awesome. Stairs and paths lead every which way up and down and around the rocky peninsula. In between these man-made walkways are plenty of opportunities to climb around and find your own path.

Ilsan Beach, Pine Forest

A forest of pine trees overlooks the ocean...

Um, I live here.

Ilsan Beach, Pine Forest

Ilsan Beach, Pine Forest

I suppose it’s not quite the open sea, as Japan is just out of seeing distance. But still – it’s the ocean!

Daewangam (Rock)

Daewangam (Rock) has some historical significance, which I think is why it’s so crowded. According to the sign, it’s something about how one of the earlier Kings wanted his spirit to manifest as a dragon and stay under these rocks, to protect the country against any invaders from the east (…like Japan).

Daewangam (Rock)

Here’s the Ulsan mascot again, telling you not to smoke – wink, wink (?)
I like that he's winking

The pines here seem different from the ones back home.
Pine Forest, Ilsan Beach

As the sun began to set, I made my way out of the forest and started the journey back home (by bus – which was another adventure in itself). This country is so beautiful… I can’t wait to do more exploring!

Pine Forest, Ilsan Beach