Nok-cha: Boseong and Yeosu

Yesterday was Buddha’s Birthday. There are certain events that I mark as personal anniversaries as I go through my second year here. This is one. A year ago today I was fairly well assimilated and beginning to feel quite at home in my new world. Last year, I went with a few friends to Beomosa, the great temple in the hills north of Busan. It rained late in the day, chasing us down the hill toward PNU, where we finally found refuge in Kebapistan, a nice Turkish restaurant.

One year later, I’ve become a little more adventurous. I went with five other friends on a four-hour bus ride to the southwestern tip of Korea, where we stayed two nights. We saw two areas of interest – Boseong, famous for its green tea plantations, and Yeosu, a great city on the coast.


We arrived kind of late into Boseong and had a hellish time wandering around trying to find a place to stay. Everything seemed booked — no min-baks, no hotels, no yeogwons. At one point it looked like we were down to one horrific looking rat-hole of a cell. It looked like something out of a mental institution. But we managed to find a few decent rooms.

We woke up around 9, got some kim-bap to go, and took a taxi to the green tea plantations. When I got out of the cab, I couldn’t believe the vividness of the colors. I’ve never seen such shades of green before. It was like another planet. We had some green tea icecream that was spectacular.

We wandered around the tea fields in the sun. It was packed with people snapping pictures. If I had a chon for every time I heard “hana…. dul… set”…

Around mid-afternoon we got a bus to Yeosu. It was a two-hour ride. Yeosu is a “city of light, flowers, and…” damn, I can’t remember the third thing. But there were a lot of flowers, even a bright red flower sculpture in the center of town. As a proper city of 400,000, we had no problem getting a place to stay here. We unloaded our stuff and went to an island/peninsula. We climbed to a pagoda overlooking the ocean and the islands, then checked out some caves. That night we gorged on sam-gyup-sal.

The next day was Big B’s B-day. We went to a hilltop temple where they were serving free bi-bim-bap for the occasion (see pic of empty bowls below). I found a trail off to the right, which we followed to some spectacular views of Yeosu and the islands.

We all pretty much fell completely in love with Yeosu. It has all the qualities of Busan but with only 10 percent of the population. Rather than wall-to-wall concrete and high-rise apartment complexes, we were surrounded by lush green hills and crystal clear air. It was as if nature was responding in appreciation. The houses were colorful, the people very kind, helpful and polite. If I could find a job there as good as the one I have now, I’d move in a heartbeat.

After some time on the hill, we headed back for the three hour trip back. The bus dropped us off in Nopo-dong, which we weren’t expecting. So we ended things at Kebapistan – the same place I ended Buddha’s Birthday a year ago.

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6 Responses to “Nok-cha: Boseong and Yeosu”

  1. hey,

    i have one of the best jobs in yeosu…a lecturer at the national university here. i don’t teach many hours, good pay, excellent vacation, etc. and let me tell you my friend, the nature here is beautiful, of course. but, this place fucking sucks. it is incredibly racist (that’s right, we haven’t been allowed into numerous clubs because we’re “not korean”), and there is a serious lack of culture here. Not to mention, we’re as far from Seoul as you can get. I don’t want to rant too much, but I absolutely hate Yeosu, and most people here do. The only thing everything agrees on is that the nature and the clean air is nice, but not much else.

    Jesse.

  2. Beautiful pictures. I see what you mean about the shades of green.

  3. Interesting, Jesse. I wonder if by racist you mean beyond what is normal in any city in Korea, or if it’s specific to Yeosu. I get weird treatment from time to time, taxis not picking me up occasionally, people cutting in line, etc. But I don’t mind it so much.

    If, on the other hand, their treatment of you is out of the Korean norm, that’s too bad… and surprising. I found people to be really, really friendly and helpful there. It kind of threw me a bit, since I’m so used to people being rude and impersonal in Busan or Seoul.

    I guess it’s the flipside of Yeosu being somewhat isolated — they’re not used to foreigners.

    Anyway, thanks for the insight.

  4. I’ve just moved to Yeosu and am getting a bit lonely for some other native english speaking company. Please get in touch.

  5. prasant behera Says:

    Hii friends,,
    nice to read ur reviews on yeosu.

    I am from India , and will be
    in Gwangyang for 1.5 yrs
    studying …

    I cld really do with some english speaking
    friends….

  6. Walk down any major street in Yeosu and it’s difficult to avoid being bombarded by friendly foreignors wanting to know who you are and where you’re from and invite you out for dinner. MAjor streets that is in Yeosu dong. If you’re having trouble, you might want to try tom n toms in yeosu dong or wa bar in yeosu dong, after 10 pm on fridays and saturdays elle lui bar in yeochun is always packed with foreignors.

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