On our last morning we boarded three separate buses and an English speaking guide joined us for a tour of the island. He pointed out special popular rocks, which the island is surrounded with that look like various animals and occasionally people.
We were also told that the rumor that there was a Russian sunken ship full of treasure off the coast was likely just a rumor. Crushing the dreams we’d made only the day before when we heard the rumor pretty quickly.
Our first stop was near natural monument #48 which is a collection of Chinese juniper trees. We were at a dock popular with divers all of who were getting ready to jump in and by the end of our tour around the island in the late afternoon, were just then getting out of the water.
Despite our stop being the Chinese Juniper trees we were all more enticed with taking pictures of the ocean. I personally got stuck at my first tide pool where I excitedly looked at all the creatures moving around and living. Including a very specific crab that was remodeling it’s little home.
Our next stop was 성하신당 전설 Seonghasindang Shrine, which is attached to a rather sad tale. Once a long time ago there was a group who needed to leave the island and the leader of the group found the island surrounded by storms. He dreamed that if he left a girl and a boy behind on the island as a sacrifice that they would make safe passage back to mainland, so he tricked two servants to stay on the island. (Though in other versions it’s a couple). With the two tricked to stay behind the rest of the group made it safely back to mainland. With his conscience bothering him the leader returned to the island to try and rescue the two left behind but found their corpses in an embrace. To repent he built the shrine for them. We ate ice cream under the trees and spent a decent amount of time just standing in front of the shrine. There was a bathroom across the street on the other side of a bridge that we also ran off to, since there hadn’t been many bathroom stops along the way.
One of the other highlights of our bus tour was 풍혈, or a natural air conditioner which can be found throughout the island. These wind caves are a lot cooler than the outside air, due to air flow, and in the winter also are a bit warmer. The used to be used as refrigerators and you can climb in and cool off, or just hover around it to enjoy the cooler air.
For lunch we made our way to the the Nari basin 나리분지. Ulleungdo is a volcanic island and the Nari basin is high up in the mountains and is the only flat part on the island. It’s not easy to get to, our bus driver had to turn off the air conditioning due to how rough it was and the roads were narrow and winding. We stopped to visit some traditional houses before going for lunch at Sanmaeul Restaurant 산마울.
Lunch was bibimbap with vegetables grown on the island and makgeolli made on the island. It was our last meal on the island and absolutely delicious. The restaurant also had a decent but small bathroom outside.
Our final stop before heading back towards port was a souvenir shop. We were given a collection of samples of the candy and sweets they sold, most of which were traditional. The most popular seems to be 호박엿, Hobakyeot, which is similar to taffy but not quite. (Note: this candy, yeot, is also used as a vulgar slang. There has been a case of returning athletes having it thrown at them for not winning at an international competition) They sold bags full of it, along with other flavors, like a local herb, peanut and squid (it didn’t taste good), and ginseng. Some of which weren’t in our sample bag but we could ask for samples of them. They also were selling local honey.
The shop also had a beautiful view of the island, so we quickly got some pictures before re-boarding our buses and heading to port.