the best place in korea / by Shelby Robinson

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Ulleung Island: easily the most beautiful, blissful place I've been in Korea. So fresh. So clean.

Ulleungdo, formed 9,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption, is located about three and a half hours from the Jeodonghang port in the East Sea. Among allllll of its insane natural beauty, the island is also known for its pumpkins and squid. Tiny squid and pumpkin characters are scattered throughout the island to remind you of this, cause it's Korea. And everything is cute.

We were lucky enough to spend four days at the end of September over Korea's Mid-Autumn Festival, or Chuseok, on the island. Koreans celebrate by gathering with their families, eating and bowing to their ancestors, whereas foreigners usually use the long weekend as an opportunity to travel and explore.

Our days started around 5 am to walk the coastal path for sunrise. Afterwards, we'd get coffee together and enjoy traditional Korean breakfasts served by the most smiley ajummas I've ever met. And the food, oh my god. Bibimbap, sesame noodles, steamed egg, soups, and all the side dishes you could want filled our stomachs. The breakfast alone was a good enough reason to get out of bed in the morning. The remainder of our days were filled with hikes, bamboo forests, makkgeoli and oceans swims.

Some of the things that stood out to me the most about the island were the turquoise blue waters, the endless blue sky, that dark volcanic rock against the pine. The scent of the sea and the hanging squid. The gusts of ocean air on the coastal path hikes. The fog that seemed to engulf the mountains. The locals who were so surprised to see so many foreigners on their little island. Their kindness and their "good mornings!" and smiles when we passed on the paths. I love Koreans.

I always feel so rejuvenated after coming off of weekends like this. I can't stress enough how healing it is to take a few steps back from your life to see new places, meet new people and do some soul-searching. One of the biggest reasons I came to Korea was to do just that ~ and I'm always so thankful for the weekends and mini trips that allow me to come back to this intention.

Special shoutout to Seoul Hiking Group for always being so coo and attracting the most down to earth, mellow people to travel with. Best adventure group in Korea <333.