To begin with: hello. I’m new around these parts, and I’m not sure how often I’ll be stopping by. My name is James, and I like to travel, eat, and take photos. (Though the last two don’t happen together often enough.) This will be an article mostly about Ulsan’s Ilsan beach, though there are other photos I’ll be throwing in as a bonus.
Last weekend, I took bus 127 to Ilsan beach. (From the bus station, go to the Lotte plaza bus stop. There are other buses you can take, but I don’t have my girlfriend’s list on hand.) The trip was about an hour long, changed buses at the train station, and gave me a wonderful and lazy view of the city. If you have company, it hardly seems long at all.
When I got there, the weather didn’t seem that great. Ulsan is an industrial city. I live in another industrial city, Pohang, and as someone who appreciates and documents excellent scenery industrial cities present something of a challenge. It’s the dirty air. The smell doesn’t bother me, and as someone with a pollen allergy I don’t find the air hard to breathe at all. However, there is a characteristic haze of industrial cities that prevents on most days proper cloud formation. In short, as I stepped out of the bus and onto the beach I might have said something along the lines of “For Pete’s sakes, would you look at those skies?”
So, the weather didn’t seem that great–until (and I do hope you don’t mind me skipping ahead) I saw this.
So we got the beach and we walked, and I hunted for things to photograph. It might have been a bit early for beach hopping, honestly, but the beach showed promise. It was clean. There were only the usual crowds of Korean elders fishing and having picnics, and children chasing each other and throwing rocks. It wasn’t high tourist season, but there looked to be plenty of places counting on the time to arrive eventually.
My girlfriend and I started gravitating toward the pine forest. It’s the most imposing looking thing from the beach, and I was already interested from Ulsan’s pocket sized tourist guide. So we went. I’m not sure if it was just the fact that forests are so rare in Korean cities, or if it was the strong scent of sea water and pines, or if it really was a nice woods (or if it was the novelty of readily available trash cans), but we really enjoyed walking there. It’s a pretty big place, and it looks better at night. My advice, if you have the time: scout around once while the sun is up, have lunch, a quick snack, or do something else. Then come back after dark, and walk along the edge. It is absolutely beautiful.
Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my own advice. My girlfriend and I were walking, and I decided to walk along the edge of the forest before knowing how big it really is. We started about 20 minutes after dark and wanted to hurry, so the only picture I took in the pine forest was this one, of rocks.
Granted, those are nice rocks. There was much more still to see, and plenty of it at night.
One more thing to do at night is eat. I don’t think Korean cities look proper until it’s after dark and all the love motels and restaurants put their fancy lights on. It isn’t the most classically beautiful thing, but it does convey a certain unmistakable energy. When we came down from the forest we had both finished a bit of hiking and were reasonably hungry. So we did the tourist thing: what looks good? Well, what looked good, and what was good, came as a bit of a surprise.
I’m no stranger to foreigner restaurants in Korea, but rarely do you see something so complete as this operation. Golden Eagle’s Bar in Ilsan beach is an English Pub ripped straight from its roots. There are English style tables, a menu that serves excellent Philly cheese steaks, the most delicious fries I have had in Korea, and a rather excellent, but tiny pizza. (I’m sure everything else on the menu is superb as well.) Also, there are more from the UK in one place there than anywhere I’ve seen in Korea. It’s a treat. We sat, we ate, and left feeling pretty satisfied with the day. Moral of the story? Ilsan beach doesn’t disappoint.
The last photo I have is of a place between old downtown and the bus station. I don’t know where, so don’t ask. (It’s Hakseong Park – ed) It is a hill in the middle of the city, and it is filled to the brim with trees, some of them cherry blossoms. I was lucky enough to find someone to sit where my camera was pointed.
And that, as they say, is that. My entire weekend in Ulsan. Here’s another picture taken quite a bit longer ago, but the people on the Facebook page liked it so well I decided to post it anyway.
Okay, so that’s really all. Except one thing: if you’d like to hear more from me on my normal blog (where I am usually much less verbose) check me out at: http://jvanderous.wordpress.com/.
Hope you enjoyed reading, and feel free to click the photos for larger sizes of anything.