Mokpo Photo Gallery - Heuksando

No trip to the Mokpo area is complete unless you make an island excursion. Heuksando and Hongdo are the 2 main tourism islands just off the coast. Both are relatively unknown on the international scene, and I seemed to be the only foreign tourist during my day trip excursion to Heuksando. You would need a night or two to cover Hongdo as well due to the sparse ferry schedule.

My day trip began by trying to find a ticket at Mokpo's main ferry terminal, which is a bright and airy facility bursting with people so early in the morning already. The crowd was mostly middle-aged and up Koreans. Luckily, I was able to find an English-speaking staff to buy a roundtrip ticket.

Heuksando is 100km west of the Korean mainland and the ferry ride takes about 2 hours. Despite the large boat, the seas can get choppy although I had good weather and sailing conditions in both directions.

I had read that there are bus tours that go around the island, and I set out looking for one upon arrival at the modest terminal. There were stalls selling various types of seafood right outside and a line of tourist buses parked. It took a bit of time to find someone who could speak some English to ask about the tour. Ultimately, I was told to come back about an hour later, as groups of locals filled up some of the buses one by one.

With some time on my hands before the tour, I explored the fresh and live seafood on offer as well as the working fishing village next door.

There is a small hill worth the easy climb for a view of the port.

The bus tour makes a circuit around the island with a few stops along the way to take in the scenery. I ended up barely squeezing on by taking the tour guide's seat next to the driver by the front door. Since I was ahead of row 1 with the huge group of local tourists behind me, I got the best windshield view of the island's scenery. The driver introduced me to the locals, who kindly clapped to welcome this sole foreigner's presence.

The first stop after a zig-zag climb uphill is an observation point with sea views ahead and behind.

Noticing my uniqueness amongst his passengers, the driver took me to a professional photographer working at this tourist site. He ended up gifting me the framed photo later on and would not accept my money at all.

The bus then continued along the coast with lots of beautiful views.

We passed by more fishing villages on the southern end of the island before heading back uphill to another stop.

Pleasantly surprised at the lengthly English description box overlooking the view, the seven brother rocks work together as a natural breakwater to protect the Sari village. Legend says a single mother lived here with her 7 sons. When a typhoon came, her sons opened their arms to stop the waves, turning into islands upon their success.

After finishing this scenic trip, I returned back to town for a fresh seafood lunch. With a language barrier, I struggled a bit looking for a restaurant, as a decent meal would require a bigger party to share the selection and cost. I was able to get this main with the typical small Korean appetizer dishes, only to be surprised part way through by the photographer from uphill. Apparently, I was dining in his restaurant!

Heuksando is do-able for a leisurely day trip and I was pleasantly surprised by the very friendly locals who enhanced this authentic fishing village experience. The language barrier didn't bother me much at all and I was quite amused to be at the centre of attention at times when people realized I wasn't a Korean tourist. Interestingly, I read about a boat tour around the island but I wasn't able to spot any groups doing this.

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