The sun rise over industrial Donghae is stunning. Construction sites and factories form intriguing shapes against the red horizon. I’ve slept well, eaten a good breakfast and am on the road fairly early (by my standards). Nearby women and men prepare their stalls at the Donghae Five Day Traditional Market. All manner of vehicle is used to bring the goods to market. Little blue trucks litter the street as older marketeers unload bundles of vegetables that seem heavier than the people lifting them. Wheelbarrows are pushed down the road as though the trucks and cars bustling about don’t exist. Pumpkins, shallots, Korean radishes and dried chillies are just some of the items you can buy here. I come to a rocky beach. It’s tucked away in a cove just after the industrial zone ends. If I had arrived from the south and stopped here I wouldn’t even guess that Donghae is an industrial hub. The golden sun creates silhouettes of the rocks and I walk a short path around the headland to properly enjoy it.
Despite being on the coast the ride is no doddle. The mountains here drop right down into the sea. And no concrete has been wasted when building the roads. Grades of 13% and higher are quite normal. The climbs are rewarded with stunning ocean views of water so clear that you can see the changes in depth.
At the top of a climb I stumble upon Haesindang Park with it’s famous phallic statues. That’s right … a whole park dedicated to the male member. Most of the other guests of the park (entry 3,000 won) are small groups of women giggling with each other. I even spot a nun wearing a habit among one of the groups. I spot two young couples holding hands with love struck grins on their faces and a couple of men looking embarrassed being led around by their wives. There is a large fishing village museum in the middle of the park but I don’t see anyone entering it.
While some of the statues are rather erotic and suggestive, others are more creative. They have been placed here to appease the spirit of a young lady who drowned when a wave swamped a nearby island. She was a seaweed collector and loved a local fisherman. He took her to a small island to collect seaweed and said he would return after his day fishing. When the time came for him to collect the lady a storm broke out and made it impossible for him to reach the island. During the storm the island was swamped by a wave and the lady drowned. Thereafter, the village suffered poor catches until someone made an offering of a phallic statue in the shrine. After that statue was offered, the village again had successful catches so more statues were added to continue to appease the lady. The entire walking route is about 1.5km (1 mile) return and there are many statues to be seen.
I reach Hasan where I see a big sign advertising a motel. It’s a tempting sight and it’s after 3pm but I decide to push on to find a place to camp. A closed camping ground across the river looks tempting but, again, Hasan-ri is an industrial place and something doesn’t feel right about camping here. Perhaps it’s my desire not to freeload or the signs with red letters and barrier across the entrance to the park. Whatever it is, I can’t relax here and I need a good night sleep.