One new city and a return to a place I barely saw! December has some of my favorite travel moments of the past few posts. And, I’m almost caught up on these monthly updates. A note, the Daejeon trip was taken at the very start of the third wave in Korea so cases weren’t very high yet. Mokpo is in the province least affect by the virus, with next to no cases in the area. Travel was done very carefully, with constant mask and hand sanitizing, and utilizing more taxis and eating out less.
Obviously this post is later than expected, but I am now back home in the US! I will be doing some “fun” posts in the next few weeks to get myself back on board with the blog.
The first time I went to Daejeon I only slept there. It was my trip to see Gongju and Buyeo. It was one of my first trips since the second Covid wave and my body was not at all in shape. I wound up being so tired I booked a bus home very early, even though I’d made some great memories.
At first, I didn’t feel too badly since Daejeon is not exactly known for…anything. It’s a transport hub, a place you pass through. It’s fine. But then my friend and I start looking into it and found more and more things we wanted to check out. So away we went!
And what a great time we had. Christmas wasn’t really Christmas this year (it never really is in Korea anyways) and the surprise snowfall we encountered was the icing on the cake of a great trip. Art museums, amazing Uzbeki food, historical parks, herbal tea cafes with bamboo views – Daejeon is a great place to base yourself for going anywhere in Korea. If I had to pick a city to live in that was perhaps more practical than my lovely Gyeongju, I think it would be Daejeon. If you ever see me back in Korea it will be living here or there!
Wow! I absolutely loved Mokpo. If it were even a tiny bit closer I would be trying to squeeze in a return trip. I’ve been trying to plan a trip here for a long time but have always given up on it. To be honest, if not for Covid there’s no way I would have used a three day weekend to come here. But I’m glad I did. In a way, Covid facilitated me being able to travel Korea more extensively than any other country – including my own!
Mokpo gets written up as a tiny fishing village in most guidebooks, only noteworthy for being far away. After scouring the internet for ideas and only finding a handful of posts, most over 5 years old, I gave up. Upon arrival in Mokpo I found a bookstore and bought a guidebook to the city that was entirely in Korean. I sat myself down in a lovely cafe and began copying out the addresses.
Mokpo’s history is fascinating. The influence of the Japanese colonizers is everywhere. Glimpses of traditional houses, Japanese food, gated zen gardens, the large Western looking building that houses the Mokpo museum. Learning how women essentially started the independence movements was eye opening for me – and seemingly heavily overlooked.
The museums in Mokpo get all the attention from me, the Maritime Museum rivaling even the Gyeongju National Museum for my favorite in Korea. The exhibits come to life with projectors, full shipwrecks, and videos of the archeologists uncovering the amazingly preserved pottery.
Clearly I’m raving about this place, I don’t care. I loved it.
Where I’m Headed Next
Of course, I’m doing these retroactively so I already know where I went! I headed to Gwangju, Hadong, and Gyeongju for the final time. Things at this point started to sink in – I’m actually leaving Korea.