Monday, September 11, 2006

Quiet Journey to Islands for Relaxation

By Kim Rahn
Staff Reporter (The Korea Times)

Those tired of the hustle and bustle of popular holiday destinations may find some small quiet islands to be the best place for relaxation.

The Korea Tourism Organization has selected five islands suitable for visiting in September under the theme of "Quiet and still travel to islands."

Polum Island and Chumun Island

Southwest off Kanghwa Island near Inchon, about one and a half hours from Seoul, there are a number of little known beautiful islands.

It is said that people who know Polum Island and Chumun Island keep it a secret so as to keep the seclusion for themselves.

The disadvantage of a visit to these isolated islands _ infrequent shuttle ships linking them with Kanghwa Island _ is an advantage for those seeking a quiet place, as not many people visit the islands.

Polum Island has Chogaegol beach, or "clam valley beach," famous for its abundant clams, and an 800-year-old gingko tree. In Chumun Island, there is a chapel built in traditional Korean house style with the 1 won contribution of each believer in 1923.

Taebinchang beach, Apchangsul beach and Twitchangsul beach on Chumun Island are quiet and beautiful beaches where pine trees are luxuriant and visitors can play with mud.

Oeyon Island

Oeyon Island is the farthest island from land among 70 islands in Poryong, South Chungchong Province.

With crystal-clear water at beaches, oddly shaped rocks including those called "Mae bawi (hawk rock)" and "Pyongpung bawi (folding screen rock)" add a certain mysteriousness to the island. Fishing on the rocks or collecting sea mussels and oysters are also possible ways to spend time here.

Visitors can walk in a forest of evergreens, state-designated natural monument No. 136, where the skies are covered with trees.

A famous feature on the island is two camellia trees called "Sarang namu (love tree)." The two trees are linked by the unusual formation of a common horizontal branch and legend has it that a couple walking under it will love each other forever.

The sunset and a row of lights from fishing boats at night are also spectacles not to be missed.

Sonyu Island

Bicycle riding around Sonyu Island will make for a pleasant fall picnic.

Sonyu Island, in the middle of a group of islands in Kunsan, North Cholla Province, has a 100-meter-high peak. It is called "Sonyubong (Sonyu peak)," meaning a peak of hermits, as the peak looks like two hermits sitting facing each other and playing "paduk," or Korean checkers.

Visitors can make a round of four islands, as Sonyu Island, Munyo Island, Changja Island and Taejang Island are connected by bridges with Sonyu at the center.

Riding bicycles along the shorelines of the islands, people can enjoy the natural scenery and fishing villages.

Yonhwa Island

Yonhwa Island, meaning lotus flower in the sea, is about one hour from Tongyong, South Kyongsang Province, by boat.

Seen far away, the island looks like either a lotus flower or a crouching dragon, having both the softness and beauty of lotus flower and the charisma of a dragon.

The whole island consists of oddly shaped cliffs. A group of rocks on the eastern coast presents various rock formations like Manmulsang of Mt. Kumgang in North Korea.

Yonhwa Island is also a haven for anglers, with red sea-bream, rock bream and sea bass in summer and black sea bream and rock fish in fall and winter.

Yonhwasa Temple and Podokam, a Buddhist hermitage, are also gaining popularity among Buddhists and visitors.

Udo (U Island)

Despite its location near Cheju Island, the most popular vacation destination in Korea, Udo is far from hustle-bustle and noise. But it still has lots of things to do and see, and is easily accessible from Cheju.

Arriving at the port of Udo, visitors can choose any transportation they want _ bicycle, motor scooter, all-terrain vehicle, or bus _ as the island is so small that making a round of it by bike takes only two to three hours.

The island is famous for its eight beautiful scenic views. There is the nation's only coral sand beach in the western island, which has white sands and emerald water.

In the eastern island, Kommolle beach presents a unique feature of black sands.

Besides visiting the famous view spots, it is also fun to explore the island's villages.

doozy: Ah... So many places that I want to travel to, so little time and money (the latter being the main factor). *Living vicariously through the article and pictures*

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