It is now near wintry weather in Buyeo, with harsh cold winds and icy morning starts. Being a sun worshipper, Miss Hoggy is half-wishing that it’s Chuseok again. the perfect early September autumn weather: cool morning followed by warm afternoons, receded into a coldlish night . What made this year’s Chuseok perfect was, I woke up to the sound of the waves at the coastal city of Tongyeong.
The journey to Tongyeong is usually an easy affair from Daejeon Bokhap Terminal. However, it was Chuseok, the Thanksgiving season for the Korean folks, and EVERYONE will tell you to pre-book your tickets. Well, to Miss Hoggy and gangs, it was easier said than done when you don’t even know where to book it from. So, we left it to luck and we managed to score ourselves the best bus ride ever: THE LIMOUSINE EXPRESS EDITION. (Spoilers: we were not so lucky on the way home).
2 HOURS LATER: Tongyeong, arriving at our homestay hostel cum cafe.
Drinking in the salty smell of the sea, we set out to find out what Tongyeong has to offer, other than the famous island hopping around 190 islands that surround this city as I get horribly sea sick just being on calm seas. Not exaggerating at all about my motion sickness. You should see me being at the back of the bus, on a windy road for an hour. WARNING: It can get messy. But guess what? Every road around Tongyeong is incredibly windy. Beautiful coastlines it has, but so has it super mountainous windy roads that come with every beautiful coastal city.
So was coming to Tongyeong a bad decision after all? No, it was not. Since when have I implied that it was a bad decision? Not when you’re a seafood lover, you’ve come to right city. Tongyeong is home to one of the most extensive seafood markets in Gyeongnam Province, after the biggest one in Busan. If you’re not squirmish, they sell their seafood live here and you might get a little wet from all the splashing that fishes do with their tails.
And if you’re not squirmish yet, try ordering hoe (Korean sashimi, pronounced as ho-i) from your fishmonger. They will prepare them live for you, (yeap, on the spot) while you wait in a little booth just around the corner.
If you do prefer your meal more dead than alive, they do do some amazing seafood soup, which was just as amazing.
And you’re going around looking for kimbap, Korean rice rolled in seaweed, much like the Japanese sushi, you’re not going to find the usual kind of kimbap. Being the birthplace of the original kimbap, aka Chungmu kimbap, they only the variation that began it all, with just rice rolled in seaweed, with side dishes of spicy squid and radishes. And it was surprisingly satisfying and filling.
Oh boy, are we full now or are we full? Well, it’s time for some digestive walks and go look for some turtles. It’s not far now, they are just outside the market actually. Walking out towards the water is actually the pretty harbour of Gangguan, housing four replicas of one of the most famous Korean inventions: TURTLE SHIPS! Yes, the ships, shaped like the turtle, that were famously reinvented and utilised by Admiral Yi Sun Shin to defeat Japanese pirates in Imjin War.
(So sorry if you were expecting actual turtles)
Admiral Yi Sun Shin might not be born in Tongyeong, but he was hailed as a Tongyeong son for his great achievements while this city was served as Joseon Naval HQ. If in doubt, just visit the restored HQ in town.
Or if you’re quite sick of the whole historical hoo-haa, instead of heading straight to the harbour from Jungang Market, why not head west? You might find yourself the magical mural village of Dongpilryang.
Started off as an act of defiance against the council’s order of eviction, citizens of Dongpiryang decided to paint the walls of their community hoping to attract attention from the media. I guess they succeeded, as this is now considered the artsiest attraction of Tongyeong. They have even painted some sick 3D paintings!
The best thing about this whole trip to Tongyeong was neither the seafood, nor the impressive history. It was going back to our seafront hostel and wake up to this :
It was only for three mornings, and soon we had to leave. Idyllic as it was for the last few days, we were soon thrown into the hectic chaos of trying to get back home, to real life as we called it, along with the rest of Korea. All Limousine Express tickets were sold out, therefore, we got ourselves the Regular, Multi-stop, crammed bus that took us FOUR hours to get to Daejeon, before transferring to our ride back to Buyeo.
Now, donning on my winter coat to face the cold, cold wind, I do want to go back to Tongyeong in mid September again.Fact: Tongyeong is 2-hour ride on express bus or 4- hour on regular bus from Daejeon Bokhap Terminal, 2-hour ride express from Busan or 1.5- hour from Jinju. It will cost you from 17, 500 Won from Daejeon, 10,800 Won from Busan, 7,100 Won from Jinju. Miss Hoggy and gang stayed in Slobbie in Sanyang-eup, Tongyeong. You have to call 010-3943-1178 for reservation. The owner, Mr. Shin, however, speaks only Korean. . Room rate starts from 25,000 Won per person. Breakfast included.