Last May I went on an AdventureKorea trip (the same travel company that I used when I went to the DMZ last winter) to Namhae island. Namhae is the biggest island in Namhae County and one of the most beautiful places that I’ve seen in Korea. The tour bus started in Seoul but unlike most AK trips, it made a stop in Daejeon which was really convenient for us Daejeon-ites. The bus ride from Daejeon to Namhae was about 4 hours, and the last 45 minutes or so was along the coast which was beautiful.
Our first view of the fishing village we stayed at on the Saturday. From what I’ve heard, it’s just as pretty as any part of Jeju but much cheaper and with the additional bonus of no tourists!
Looking over some of the houses in the village. I guess when you live along the side of a cliff, it makes sense to decorate your roof. Most of the houses had flowers stenciled on the roof.
In order to make this a more authentic experience, AK had set up homestays with families on the island. My friends and I ended up being the last group to be assigned a homestay, and they were all full. Instead we were put up in a private pension, with a killer view. Clearly this early bird and worm phenomenon needs to be reassessed. This is probably one of my favourite pictures from my time in Korea.
The Saturday afternoon activities started pretty low key; we hung out on the rock beach, drank homemade maekoli (rice wine), the boys swam a little and some children taught us how to catch tiny eel fish. AK likes to plan assorted activities for these trips, so eventually we were cajoled off the beach and taken to a mud pit to catch mud fish with our bare hands. Following that, we were encouraged to live like the locals and help plow a rice field!
The unfortunate part of not getting a homestay was that we ate in the island’s lone restaurant and it sounded like the people who enjoyed a home cooked meal had much better food than us. That evening we played some games with the AK group, tried to send off some wishes on paper lanterns (mine and Lauren’s managed to float away, but quite a few plummeted to the ground engulfed in flames) and ate grilled abalone. I thought it tasted, well not terrible, but definitely far from pleasant. It would have been nice if the AK guide had told us beforehand which part not to eat, rather than after many of us had eaten the entire thing. Thankfully, no one got sick the following day.
Sunday started bright and early, and I decided that a little extra sleep was more important than a breakfast of rice and kimchi. Our first activity on Sunday was to go deep sea fishing. Unfortunately, the sea refused to cooperate and was too low for the boats to go out. Instead we went to a different location where they taught us how to catch fish with our bare hands. Well theoretically, taught us. I actually learned that if I was ever in a situation where I had to feed myself on fish that I had caught with my hands, I would starve. For lunch, they grilled the fish we had just caught and it was delicious!
If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend trip away from the crowds of Busan, but somewhere you can still enjoy the coast, I would definitely recommend Namhae. It’s close enough to the mainland that you can enjoy it in two days and much cheaper than resort-oriented Jeju-do.