I followed a range of small roads and paths through the rice paddies trying to find my way out of Gangneung. It took me 15km before I found my way back to the number 7 road but I enjoyed the detour through the paddies, which gave me plenty of time to get close to the fields and take photos. The rice harvest looks like it is backbreaking work. While it looks like machinery is used to cut the rice, women and men still bundle it up and carry it off the fields by hand. I am impressed by the farmers’ work ethic and strength.
Once on the coast road I wind my way southwards. At the Unification Park I enter the museum and walk through a captured North Korean submarine and massive South Korean war ship. A group of young sailors were also touring the warship; one in particular was friendly and keen to practice his English. Nineteen out of the twenty-seven rooms on the ship were open to the public, making the ship a worthwhile stop.
I walk to a mountainside pagoda form which I can see the coastal road stretch out before me. This section of road was advertised on the tourist map as one of the most beautiful sections of the Romantic Road of Korea. The road hugged the cliffs but was also exposed to the sea. I stop on the side of the road to watch as waves crashed all around. There are warning signs about the potential for waves to break over the road and I imagine at times it could get quite dangerous here if the seas were high. The sea is actually breaking over the road in a few places and I time my crossings carefully so as not to get wet. There was no risk of being swamped and taken out to sea but I still preferred to stay dry.
I reach Donghae in the mid-afternoon and see a sign to the caves near the centre of the city. I didn’t expect much so was surprised when I was handed a helmet and instructed in it’s proper adjustment. It turns out that you actually do need a helmet in these caves. Unlike so many I’ve visited in the past, there are places where you actually have to get down and almost crawl under low ceilings and dodge your way past real stalamites (or are they stalagtites?). The formations in the caves were stunning. While my guide book of Korea criticises the caves here of having garish lighting, I quite like the colourful effects. It’s quite cheerful.