Friday, March 16, 2012

A quick trip to Yeosu

I went to Yeosu last month for two days. I had heard many good things about the city, which is hosting Expo 2012 later this year. Yeosu, compared to other places by the sea, is not much of a tourist destination, but that might be one of the best reasons to visit. Of course, the Expo will change everything, creating what is sure to be a cluster of awkwardly-designed shiny, stainless steel buildings lying around the city.

Yeosu is something of a nightmare to get around due to its coastline and the mountains in the background, but that also makes it quite beautiful. Compared to other cities of the same size, there aren’t as many hotels, pensions or other Compared to other cities of the same size, there aren’t as many hotels or pensions in Yeosu, particularly not in the city centre. When you get a good view of the city from the sea, you get to see old, squat buildings rising in the distance, without many newer ones.

Change is coming, if you look the opposite way at Dolsan-do, the deceptively large island connected to Yeosu by the famously colourful Dolsan bridge, the calm nighttime view is shattered during the day by mounds of construction. Dolsan-do is excellent for two of my favourite hobbies, sashimi and hiking. You can take a bus from the downtown across the bridge to the Sashimi Town (돌산회타운, clumsily translated in a few places as “Dolsan Korean Sashimi Centre”) or set off on a hike across the island, which could take about 30 km.

Yeosu is a pretty good place to eat, though I suppose that it helps if you like seafood. I found the food fresher than in other places, particularly the kimchi, though the kimchi in Jeollanam-do seems to be something of an acquired taste. Grilled eel is very popular in Yeosu, which is great, because I love eel. There is a great cluster of restaurants in a planned restaurant district by the Yi Sunshin Square and, in a touch that would be welcome elsewhere, the names of the restaurants are not translated, but rather transliterated. So, instead of referring to that “red seafood place”, you would actually learn its name.

Compared to nearby Suncheon, Gwangju, Mokpo or even Boseong, I don’t think Yeosu has as much to do, but I would rank it with Boseong as being one of those great places in Jeollanam-do where you can go relax, do nothing and enjoy yourself. Boseong, of course, is far more rural and itself is something of a one-hit wonder with its green tea fields. Jeollanam-do itself is my second-favourite part of Korea to travel to after the mountains of Gangwon-do. If you just want to get as far from the Seoul area as possible, some part of Jeollanam-do is typically a better, quieter choice than somewhere in Gyeongsang.

When you travel, travel in class by Mugunghwa train.

This man spent about 30 minutes on the train shouting obscenities at politicians and people from Jeolla. Here he is engaging the poor ticket seller, shown trying to keep herself from laughing, in some asinine conversation, while somebody with an actual question comes forward impatiently.

A meal of grilled eel for breakfast.

Dolsan bridge at night.

1 comment:

kushibo said...

I drove my girlfriend down to Yŏsu to visit one of her friends who was teaching English down there. It seemed like a pleasant enough place to live, but I am partial to places by the sea.