Korea Road Trip Day 3: Ocean Lattes, Fish Markets & Lighthouses

Day 3 of our trip started early and with purpose. The rest of our trip had been a mis-mash of what we wanted to do and what we had time to do. Our first day was marred by traffic and our second by a late start but it was day 3. We’d learned from our mistakes and the first thing we did was wake up early and head to the Seaside Garden.

Like most of the places I’d planned out, the Seaside Garden was a spot I’d been eyeing on Instagram when we first started planning our trip. It looked like a quaint spot with brunch, outdoor seating, and a view of the ocean. We arrived to find a crowded cafe with steel fences, a definite lack of seating, and a parking lot similar to Disneyland’s minus the concrete.

Inside, the cafe itself was completely overrun with families. Screaming children danced in the sun while world-weary parents dozed in the shade. With our little pup in tow, we started looking for a table so we could order and sit down to breakfast. It took 20 minutes of wandering the sun beaten courtyard (which was admittedly nice to look at) before I got a table. A family tried to steal it from me but my inner anger-beast won out in the end and the family went packing. After another 20 min in line, we were finally able to order our drinks. Much to our dismay, they were completely sold out of food, so we had to settle for a way overpriced berry bingsu. It wasn’t brunch, but it was tasty and enough to tie us over until lunch.

Once we settled down with our ocean lattes and took a minute to breath, we could finally enjoy ourselves. Aside from the beautiful ocean view, there was also a huge lawn where kids were playing and fur babies were socializing. It was a really nice cafe, though I’m not sure it was worth the trouble. Having people hover about our table waiting for us to leave did take the intimacy out of our experience a bit.

If we were hungry before we got to the cafe, we were definitely starving by the time we left.

Next up was the Sokcho Tourist & Fishery Market (속초 관광수산시장). Like everywhere else we’d been, the traffic was insane. Luckily once we got to the market it was all good and not nearly as crowded as we had anticipated (or so we thought).

I already had a list of foods in mind that I wanted us to try and we were determined to eat them all. Since it wasn’t too crowded, we decided to take a leisurely stroll through the market to map out our food strategy. The market was a rainbow of fresh fish, crabs and octopus. There was so much to see, it was hard not stop and take pictures all while trying to decide what it was we’d be feasting on for our makeshift lunch.

When we came back around with our food strategy in mind, one word entered our mind. PACKED! It was so packed! Where did all those people even come from?!? Every stall had a long line or mob of people surrounding it. The entire walkway where the food stalls were located was a huge line with several mini-lines for the stalls.

We shuffled through, careful to make sure our little doggo didn’t get squished and my anger-beast didn’t make a resurgence. In the end we got to eat an entire stuffed squid (오징어 순대), 3 rolls of squid bread (오징어빵) and some buckwheat and kimchi pancakes (메밀 & 김치전병). To get away from the crowd, we split off down an empty alley and picked out a spot in front of an empty storefront. We didn’t get everything on our list, but it was all we could manage to fit in our stomachs. The food was fantastic, though incredibly greasy.

Out of everything we ate, the squid bread was by far our favorite. It’s a patented snack, so (for the time being) you’ll only find them at this market. The buns are soft steamed bundles of adorableness, stuffed with squid and four different fillings. You can choose between cheese, red bean, vegetable and sweet pumpkin, but cheese was definitely the best. Although we had 3, we couldn’t get enough, so we bought a couple to take home.

Once we were completely and truly stuffed, we rolled ourselves back into our car and drove to our final destination. Traffic took on a whole new meaning when we were driving through what was originally a two lane street but was now somehow three. Eventually, we pulled out into the parking lot for a cafe and took in the view of the Mukho Lighthouse (묵호 등대) just before sunset.

The drive had worn us out so a quick cup of coffee while taking in the gorgeous view of the coast brought us back to life. After that, we took our coffee and wondered about the quaint village situated around the lighthouse. Looking around, there were actually dozens of little cafes built into little cliff crannies with magnificent ocean views. It’s an interesting feeling being on land but seeing the ocean everywhere you turn.

Surprisingly, the highlight of our time there was a Jindo pup who was wandering in and out of the street until he found Uyu. Unsurprisingly, Uyu played it cool while our new friend bounced around desperately trying to make friends with him.

There wasn’t much to do around the area, but it was the perfect ending to our unexpectedly adventurous 3 days. Standing above the ocean watching the colors of the sunset dance across the water made the honking, sweating and endless hours of driving melt away. Of all the places we visited, getting to Mukho was the most demanding as far as driving and patience, but it might be the one spot we have to revisit. It might even be our main destination next time. Staying at one of the many pensions dotting the cliff next to the ocean sounds like a dream. I guess only time will tell.

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