Sunsets and Sand: Who Could Ask for More?The summer is almost over. All those memories of blistering sun and crowded beach may already be fading. However, if you are still dreaming of a last-minute getaway to savor the final few days of summer by the sea, Anmyeondo may be the perfect destination.
Anmyeondo is a beautiful island off Taean county, South Chungchong province. This long island on the west coast is a well-known place to enjoy a romantic sunset. The name Anmyeondo means "the island that falls asleep peacefully," and refers to the subtle beauty of the island at sunset.
Anmyeondo stretches about 32 kilometers between north and south and 6 kilometers between east and west. Along the island's lengthy coastline are many beautiful beaches including Sambong, Gijipo, Batgae, Kkotji, Saetbyeol, Jangsampo and Baramarae.
The most popular beach for watching the sunset is Kkotji. In the past, there used to be plenty of flowers such as sweet briers and apricot blossoms growing on the beach, and hence the name Kkotji (flower land). Not many flowers grow there nowadays, but the sunset on Kkotji beach is one of the most beautiful in the nation.
This beach, along with the banks of Chaeseok River on Byeonsan Peninsula and Seokmodo islet off Ganghwa island, are considered the three top spots on the west coast to enjoy the sunset.
On Kkotji beach you can see two rocks jutting out of the sea. These two, known as halmi-bawi (grandma rock) and harabi-bawi (grandpa rock), are intertwined with local folklore. The story goes that an old lady who had been waiting many long years for husband to return home from war turned into stone. Upon his return, the husband, grief-stricken over his wife's death, similarly turned into stone.
Knowing the story, you may feel as if you are watching a real couple gazing at the sunset together when you see the rocks on the shore.
Most beaches on Anmyeondo have a long, wide, gently reclining sandbank that is quite common on the west coast where the tidal range is greater than other coastlines. The silica sand found on the island is known for its good quality and is often used for making glass. You will have no difficulty walking along the beaches, since they are very firm.
Take a stroll at dusk and you might see crabs, snails and clams crawling along the beach.
Another well-known attraction of the island is the forest near Kkotji beach. The forest, thick with 30-year-old trees, is decorated with Korean traditional houses and log houses that can be rented for 20,000 won (about $16) to 70,000 won per night. It takes about an hour to stroll around the trail in the woods. Spend a night in the forest with your family listening to the sounds of nature. Admission to the forest costs 1,000 won.
Not very far from the forest is the Dusan ranch in the Anmyeon-eup area. At the ranch, you can watch milk cows munching on the grass between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day. (For more information, call 041-673-3510.)
If you like the secluded aspect of the forest, you will also find it more than satisfactory to take a drive along the quiet local road toward Yeongmok harbor via the Gonam-myeon area. The road, which is flanked by lines of tall pines, is a fantastic driving course with great views of the ocean.
At Yeongmok harbor, there are many seafood restaurants that serve fresh dishes such as sashimi (hoe). Most of these restaurants offer refreshing views of Cheonsuman bay as well.
The area around the harbor is well known for its fish sauce production. Fish sauce, made of salt and fermented kkanari (sand eels), which are abundant in the area, is an important ingredient in tasty kimchi as well as a wonderful substitute for soy sauce used in Korean style soups and salads. You can buy such fish sauce at factories located near by the harbor at a lower price than in your local market.
Baeksajang wharf on the north of the island is also popular among seafood lovers. Restaurants on the wharf offer delicious seasonal fish such as nolraemi and ureok at between 40,000 won and 50,000 won per kilogram. In the late autumn, you can order large shrimp and crab at reasonable prices.
If you feel tired after an exciting trip to the harbor, the ranch or the forest, you can relax and take a refreshing seawater bath at the Aqua World house in the condominium, Lotte Ocean Castle. It costs 7,000 won.
For more information, visit the Web site at www.anmyondo.com
by Sung Si-yoon
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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