I could have stayed in Jeongdongjin for longer, but instead headed south along the coast - on the railway that is too close to the sea - towards Samcheok. I disembarked in a remote town called Singi at 2.30, and waited for a bus to take me to my next destination - Hwanseondonggul 환선동굴. Try saying that when drunk.
This bus didn't bother showing up, and I was very tight for time as the final bus from the above-mentioned place going to Samcheok left at 7.30, so I flagged down a taxi. The driver of said taxi immediately railed at me and pointed at his fuel gauge. Which was empty. He took me most of the way before I got guilty and told him to stop 1km short of the entrance.
Let me break it down for you. Hwanseon is the name of the place, and it is a big cave. The biggest in Asia, apparently. Not sure if I believe that, though the locals are fiercely proud of this place. Many signs pointed out that 'Samcheok is world renowned as the cave city'. Funny, I knew Samcheok for a different reason, which will become evident later. In the meantime, I took a monorail up to the top and explored inside.
It was quite big. You can only explore 1.6km of it, but it supposedly is over 6km long. What interested me more was the names they gave to various bridges and areas of the cave. Honourable mentions go to the 'Bridge of Love', 'Bridge of Galaxy' and 'Bridge of Hell' (which was wonderfully followed by the 'Bridge of Confessions'), but by far the funniest was the 'Valley of Desire'. In a cave. How?!
I made it to Samcheok with time to spare, but the point of interest was south of this town, so I gambled and headed down the coast on a local bus to find a nearby motel. The plan was to go to the place early so I could get back to Seoul relatively early on the Sunday. This plan backfired when I missed the stop for the park. Samcheok is quite small, but the biggest town in the area. So now I was in the middle of nowhere.
I saw a sign that said 모텔, which is motel in Korean, so I hopped off into the dark. I walked up to the motel entrance...to find that it was closed. Awesome. I found one more motel that was...also closed. Time to think. Well not much time, it was getting cold. Then I had an idea. There were numerous signs that looked like this - 민박. This is a guesthouse of sorts, where people rent out one room in their house if they like you. I wandered over to one of these places. 30,000 was the quote. I bartered, and as the only ATM in the area was shut, I proved to her that I only had 20,000. I kept the extra 5,000 I had hidden, as I needed to eat. My room didn't have a bed - it was a place where you roll out lots of duvets and pillows provided in a wardrobe and get as comfy as you can.
I got a lot of stares in this area. I'm guessing very few foreigners have been here. English was minimal - none - so it was a good test of my Korean skills. The real test came the following morning when I needed to get to the park...as I had no money. Time to break new ground and hitchhike! I've read that it is very safe to do in Korea. The first person I flagged down? An army truck! They were going the wrong way, which was a shame, as that would have been very interesting. Soon after, a man in a Samsung uniform was more than happy to take me to the park. He did make an abrupt stop at some roadworks, which initially concerned me. He got out, putting on a hard hat in the process, and shouted at them, before returning to the car and saying, 'My job is good'. Hero.
So this place I was going. I've kept it secret from you thus far. It is called Haesindang 해신당. From the outside, it would seem like a normal park, but it is what is housed inside that was intriguing to me. The picture can tell all...
Yes folks, a park FILLED with phallic sculptures. All shapes and sizes, all colours and creeds, it is a homage to the male anatomy. The story behind the park is a strange one - girl loses her man to the sea and curses them or whatever. A park dedicated to penis is not usual in any part of the world, but particularly here.
It is a bizarre place, especially when you consider that Koreans are more conservative than us when it comes to topics of an adult nature. Very funny, though, and an interesting end to a very interesting, enlightening weekend.
Love you all