I finally checked Dokdo off my list. It was on my list since the first time I heard about it during my Korean class. It is not easy to go there by ourselves because it is still a conflicted island between South Korea and Japan. Thanks to the Dokdo Foundation for organizing this trip for the international students to witness the indescribable beauty of these mysterious islands in summer 2018. The number of participants is limited so I registered right away when I receive an email from the office.
On the day of departure, we had to get up very early because the bus left from HUFS Seoul Campus at 4 am. I was fortunate as I am living near the Seoul campus. Students from HUFS global campus in Yongin had to come to Seoul since midnight and wait for the bus.
The trip was 3 days and there were 4 groups of students from different universities including HUFS, Sangmyung Univ., Jeonju Univ., & Chonbuk Nat. Univ.
We arrived at Hupo Ferry Terminal at 10 am then we take a ferry to Ulleungdo. I did not take a motion sickness drink because I have never had any motion sickness when I travel either by car, ferry, or plane. I underestimated how serious it could be. When I got on the ferry, I asked for a drink immediately because I knew it was not ok. The weather on that day was so awful. There were a lot of big waves. Many people started to vomit right when the ferry leaves the port. I could endure the ocean waves and the sound of vomiting but I honestly could not stand with vomit smell. The whole ferry was full of vomit smell. I tried to sleep and not to think about it but 2 and a half hours were too long. A guy next to me kept vomiting throughout the whole trip. It was so hard to bear. I eventually went to the toilet to refresh myself and throw up a bit there before we reach Ulleungdo. It was a disaster.
We finally arrived at Ulleungdo. Everyone was so sick and tired. We wanted to rest but we couldn’t. We had lunch near the port. Our menu was Sea Mussels Fried Rice. Sea mussel is a signature food on Ulleungdo. If you ask me how it tastes, I would say so so. Maybe because I was not feeling well at that time. I tried to finish mine because I need to refill my energy.
After lunch, we walked to a local office to have an orientation and lecture about Dokdo. A Korean researcher conducted a presentation about Dokdo’s history and its ongoing conflict. We have learned a lot from that.
After that, we went to the hotel to have dinner and rest. Our menu was Squid and Pork Bulgogi (오삼불고기). Ulleungdo is known for its fresh squid so squid is another signature food of the island.
Even though we were so tired but we didn’t sleep right away after dinner. I and other few new friends went out to have a drink and talk near the beach. I love that moment. I love late-night talk and drink with new friends. I have got to know them and learn about our culture different. They were HUFS exchange students. They studied in Korea only for 1 semester. They were from France, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Columbia, and me, Cambodia.
We had a traditional Korean breakfast at the hotel then we take a ferry to Dokdo at Jeodonghang Port (저동항). Everyone was so scared and asked for a motion sickness drink. I also drank it right away. Fortunately, the weather was good and it took only 1 hour from Ulleungdo to Dokdo.
However, we could be on Dokdo Island only for 20 minutes due to political security reasons. We were rush to take a group picture and individual pictures. 20 minutes were not enough for people who love taking pictures like me. Luckily, I got to take several pictures of Dokdo as well as my pictures.
The most exciting part is taking pictures of Korean soldiers there. They were all Korean men living in Gyeongsang-do area. They rotate each other to be placed on the island during their 2 years of military service. They also saluted us when we leave the island.
When we arrived Ullengdo, we had another Korean traditional food for lunch then we visited some historical places on Ulleungdo. It was good to travel around the island and witness its unique beauty as well as to see how it is different or similar to other areas in Korea.
We had Wild Greens Bibimbap for dinner. It is a signature food of Ulleungdo. It is very famous and expensive; yet, I didn’t eat it. I don’t like Bibimbap at all, especially this Bibimbap. I was searching for something else to eat but I found nothing.
The best part of the trip is having chicken and beer with new people. This time, half of the participants joined including the organizers. It was so fun and unforgettable. We knew that we would not see each other again after this trip so it was our first and last party together. I love listening to their stories as well as sharing mine. Nothing can ever go wrong with chicken and beer
It was our last day on Ulleungdo Island. We visited Dokdo Museum as well as Observatory Cable Car. We got to witness the beauty of Ulleungdo Island from the top of the mountain. It was breathtaking! I love the fresh air up there. Nature is amazing!
After lunch, we were free for the whole afternoon before we get back to Seoul. Some friends and I decided to somewhere nearby. We went to Marine Geological Park Trekking. The view along the mountain was so beautiful. The numerous gigantic rocky mountains and the deep blue emerald water had taken my breath away.
Our trip was closed by Ulleungdo governor handing us an honorary residency card. Every one of us became a resident of Ulleungdo. I was so honored. Although it cannot be used, getting that honored is a privilege. We left Ulleungdo around 5 PM. This time everyone was ok because the weather was good. Nobody threw up. Everyone was sleeping throughout the trip.
One of the best things about the trip is getting to know new people and enjoying the trip together. I decided to go on this trip alone because all of my friends were busy since it was on weekdays. However, I got to know many wonderful people from different countries and we had a good time together throughout the trip. I still keep in touch with some friends from the trips although they already went back to their countries.
If you have an opportunity to visit Ulleungdo and Dokdo, don’t miss it. It could be once in a lifetime opportunity. It is not very different from other islands in Korea but it is a good opportunity to witness an island that is still under conflict between Korea and Japan.