Okay, so everybody knows how great Seoul is. All the information you could ever dream of is already at your fingertips with all the youtube videos, blog posts and more. However, when I found out I would be in the Pohang branch of Chungdahm, there was very little out there about this little seaside town.
Most of the searches I did lead me to the Homigot Hand Statue off the coast. Which is very cool, but there is so much more to this cute little town and I have had a great time exploring it these past few months. First of all, the school and our apartments are located in a nice little calm corner of the city with a number of places to eat, about a thousand cafes, and a large grocery store within walking distance. Everything you could need is within reach. And if you need anything else, you can easily order it or go exploring and find just about everything you’d need or want. I’ve been here for 3 months and I still have more cafes and restaurants to go to than I can count! The best part is that I have all the time I would need to see everything, since as a CDI teacher here we have the weekends and mornings off. As a teacher in the states, doing much of anything besides lesson planning, working, and grading materials was almost impossible. With Chungdahm, however, there is plenty of time for exploring.
Speaking of exploration, my friends/coworkers from Chungdahm and I have been able to go somewhere new almost every weekend. For example, we have gone to see the beach here in Pohang, which was absolutely lovely. All you have to say is “bukbu beach” to the taxi driver and they will take you straight there. The beach itself is lovely, although a bit seaweed filled. Then there are all the sculptures along the walking path running along it. It's really worth more than one trip for sure. We went for our first time and stayed there all day swimming and walking down the path. There are an incredible amount of restaurants, cafes, and dessert shops along the way too. The best part though, is how alive it gets at night time. We were there on Saturday, and when the sun set, the street filled with performers, street food vendors, and pop-up shops too.
If that isn’t exciting enough for you, there is the downtown area. This is called the “shine,” and it is where you can find the stream street. It is absolutely the cutest little thing with a really great vibe. I go as often as I can, and you can take the 108 bus to get there from nearby the apartment building. It has cosmetic shops, clothing boutiques, places to eat, and a movie theatre. The main street is enough to keep you occupied for a good long day. However, the back alley streets have the real gems. There are cafes, and boutiques, and karaoke places, and this really cute little selfie station that you pay to get in. It has a bunch of really cute backdrops, and costumes to dress up in! Just like Bukbu beach, this area wakes up as the sun goes down. Pop up shops, street performers and street food galore will be at your beck and call! Trust me, you are going to want to try everything! The post office is here as well, so if you want to send packages home filled with goodies then that is totally doable.
Beyond that, there is the homigot plaza. This is the sculpture in the ocean. It is very far out, and a bit of a trip. It’s really quite worth it though. You can take a taxi or a bus, but the taxi will be super expensive and the bus will take a long time. It’s worth it to go with a couple more people so you can take a taxi early enough in the morning to see the sun come up. By splitting the price of the taxi it is much more feasible, and then you can take the bus home and sleep it off. My work friends and I did exactly that. We made it in time to see the sun come up through the fingertips of the sculpture, which made for a lovely morning as we sat on the edge of the pier and soaked it all in. We also found the pier and the rocks near the water to be a fun area to explore before we went and had brunch at the cafe nearby. As we headed out we took more pictures with the other art pieces in the plaza, one of which is the piece that says “I love Pohang,” which is a super fun photo op in my personal opinion. There is a lovely souvenir shop here too, in which I may have spent a bit more than I had intended, so be warned.
Besides these lovely attractions within Pohang, there are a great many places nearby that you can visit. There is Gyeongju, with its many temples, museums and many other attractions. Daegu is also nearby, and has great shopping as well as sights to see and more to do and eat than I have even been able to get to yet. Plan many weekends there in order to soak up all that it has to offer for sure! Also nearby are the 12 waterfalls. This is a beautiful area for hiking and is only a bus ride away. Each of these places are easily a great day or weekend trip and will provide you with plenty of opportunities for exploring and meeting new people along the way. Trips to larger cities like Busan and Seoul are also possible, although with slightly less frequency due to the distance. So far, I have been to Seoul twice. Admittedly, this depends upon your personal priorities. I have been focusing first on exploring the area I am in, and plan to explore further and further out as the year goes by.
Pohang isn’t just great for the many sights you can find in and around it though. It is also a fantastic place to find quality seafood and other tasty treats. Pohang is known for its raw fish soup called Mulhwae, which is flavorful without a very “fishy” taste at all. It is also served cold, even with ice cubes or shavings in it to preserve the fish and temperature. I’ve had it only once so far near the beach, but it was a spectacular experience and I can’t wait to introduce it to my friends.
South Korea is filled with culinary adventures like this one, as well as almost any sea creature you can possibly imagine eating… and perhaps a few you wouldn’t have ever considered before: from Octopus, squid, abalones, muscles, sea urchin, and fish in all sizes and cooked (or uncooked) in what seems to be hundreds of different ways, and so very much more. There are also many pasta, Indian restaurants, vietnamese and Thai, and even a couple of Mexican places too. Basically, plan on eating out as often as you can. Which will be quite often, because it is not expensive to eat out at all in Korea and there is just so very much to go and try!
All in all, Pohang is just as exciting to live in as any other city in South Korea, if not more so. It is large enough to have plenty to do, while small enough to make living there a breeze. And if nothing I have said has convinced you of that fact yet, just wait till you see it yourself!
Alecia Alford is a secondary English education major with a taste for traveling, languages and ‘eating all the foods.’ She graduated from Northwestern State University and spent some time abroad in South America where she learned Spanish and discovered her true love: seeing and tasting all that the world has to offer. Alecia has dreamt of teaching all her life, but was surprised at how inexplicably inhospitable the living conditions were for a teacher in the states. Things weren’t necessarily impossible, but they certainly were not exactly easy, nor were they travel friendly back home. Looking into ways to teach abroad, she was pleasantly surprised at the number of options and opportunities out there that combined her two great passions. She now teaches with Chungdahm Learning in Pohang, South Korea and intends to continue the pursuit of traveling and teaching for as long as she can.