Low-key family festival offers more than mud
BORYEONG - The sight of mud-covered revelers at the Boryeong Mud Festival is easily one of the most prominent images associated with the city in South Chungcheong. But the area also offers other summer attractions, including the beach and islands of Muchangpo, that make it an easily accessible place for urbanites looking for a cool summer weekend getaway.
The area also has a festival of its own, the Muchangpo Beach Festival, which starts on Aug. 10 and is now in its third year.
While a large majority of vacationers tend to flock to Daecheon Beach, Muchangpo Beach offers a more quiet and subdued atmosphere. If Daecheon Beach is largely populated by young partygoers, Muchangpo is the preferred destination for families.
The main attraction at Muchangpo is the sea-parting phenomenon, which occurs an average of three to four consecutive days per month throughout the year. A path measuring 1.5 kilometers (one mile) long and 50 meters wide leading to Seokdo Island appears to surface during low tide. In promotional materials, the locals compare the phenomenon to the parting of the Red Sea.
“While the path is clearly visible during the spring, autumn and winter, the tide does not go out completely during the day in July and August,” said Kim Se-joon, a Boryeong City official. “The tide reaches its lowest point after sunset but it’s still low enough during the day for visitors to walk on.”
The low tides make it easy for people to enter the water in search of clams, baby octopi and shellfish. It also allows visitors to participate in the regional tradition of building fish traps by stacking rocks underwater.
In addition to these activities, the Muchangpo Beach Festival organizes activities where visitors can try their hand at catching fish with their bare hands or participate in a evening walk on Seokdo Island as they carry torchlights to find their way.
The festival also offers performances of the nonverbal musical “Nanta,” magic shows, concerts and fireworks displays.
In addition to Muchangpo Beach, the area also boasts a total of 78 islands that dot the waters off the shores of Boryeong. Three of the most-visited islands in the area are Wonsan Island, Sapsi Island and Weiyun Island.
Wonsan Island is a 30-minute ferry ride away from Daecheon Port and is the biggest of the islands in the area. Located on the west end of the island, the clear water and white sand of Mount Obong Beach make this a popular family summer vacation destination. Ferries from Daecheon Port are available seven times a day from 7:20 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Those looking for a quiet day of fishing could head to Sapsi Island. Home to approximately 150 households, the small but scenic island is accessible by ferries that operate four to five times a day between 7 a.m. and 5:10 p.m.
One of the most scenic islands, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, is Weiyeon Island. In addition to the pretty landscapes, the island is also home to Sangrok Forest, National Treasure No. 136. Located at the center of the island, the forest features a mix of camellia and silver magnolia trees. Weiyeon Island is located two hours away from Daecheon Port by ferry and is the furthest away from the shores of Boryeong.
Getting there: The easiest way to get to Boryeong is to take a Saemaeul or Mugunghwa train to Daecheon Station. Trains from Yongsan or Yeongdeungpo stations to Daecheon Station are available between 5:40 a.m. and 8:20 p.m. and the average train ride takes about two and a half hours. From the station, take a local bus or taxi to the beach. Cab fare from Daecheon Station to Daecheon Beach costs between 8,000 and 9,000 won.
*For more information, visit www.visitkorea.or.kr or call the Boryeong Tourism Information Bureau at (041) 932-2023.
By Jason Kim [firstname.lastname@example.org]