Taean Haebyeongil

You can see my joy at finally being here.

You can see my joy at finally being here.

Ever since the “gils” had become a thing, I had wanted to hike the Haebyeongil—the Taean Coastal Walk. It’s a bit out of the way, on the west coast. So, it kept getting pushed back as other, easier to get to, places took priority. With our departure from Korea imminent, it finally became a now-or-never event. The trail has five sections, and we decided to tackle the first (or maybe the last), a 12km section from Kkoti Beach to Baeksajahang.

Everyone was happy to be there.

Everyone was happy to be there.

I shouldn't complain. At least I was there by choice.

I shouldn’t complain. At least I was there by choice.

We arrived to find a cold, windy, gray beach and wondered if this was really the best we could have come up with for that weekend. We found a map and set off. That is one thing I miss about Korea—you could always find a map. I imagine it comes as a shock to Koreans when they turn up for a hike in the US or England and end up needing Search and Rescue to find them.

You won't see this in the US.

You won’t see this in the US.

When the drizzle turned to rain, we took that as a sign to find a hotel, despite having only covered the 2km, or less, to Bangpo Beach. Fortunately, there were a few to choose from along the beach, as the rain was falling steadily by then. I really, really, really don’t like being out in the rain. Knowing my “dry” clothes are getting as wet as I am doesn’t help, either.

The first place we came to seemed nice enough.  Really, a bed and en suite bathroom are all we look for. That it was clean, had a fridge and cable, and a lovely view (in lovely weather, anyway, when we checked in, visibility was about 50 feet) was just gravy.

Given the weather, we decided the best restaurant in town must be the one in front of the hotel. We got our favorite: exploding shellfish. That’s another thing I’ll miss about Korea. The US and the UK don’t trust diners to cook their own food, over an open flame, especially food prone to explode while cooking and/ or cause illness if eaten before fully cooked.

That looks like the best place in town for fresh seafood!

That looks like the best place in town for fresh seafood!

In the morning, we set off of the remaining 10km in the sunshine. It was a nice enough hike, but for a “coastal path”, there were a lot of wooded bits. We did get to have a little giggle here and there at Korea’s attempts to have handicapped accessible areas.  Along the beachy bits, there were random sections of sidewalk which either led to nowhere or would have required a second (at least) person to lift a wheelchair up and over obstructions in the path.

Our last sighting of old women doing hard labor.

Our last sighting of old women doing hard labor.

On the other hand, it didn’t seem to be a popular trail. The somewhat accessible sidewalks were adjacent to tour bus parking lots, but no one seemed interested in straying too far. So, we were able to enjoy the peace and quiet. If we had had more time, we could have continued on to the next section, but Craig had a game to see. So, we caught the one bus to Taean and that was that for our hiking in Korea.

We were the youngest people to ever use that bus terminal.

We were the youngest people to ever use that bus terminal.

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