chasingkm, National Parks, nature, travel, USA

Two days in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

With just a few weeks left in California before we start our road trip back east, we decided to squeeze in a quick trip to America’s most popular national park – Yosemite! We realize only a few days is not enough to explore Yosemite to its full potential. But, you can fill your days with enough to make you feel satisfied, tired, thrilled and awed by this grand valley!


Day 1

We left Tahoe at 4am and took a slow and scenic route through Mariposa and entered the park via Arch Rock entrance.  You are very soon in Yosemite valley and surrounded by granite cliffs, gorgeous meadows and waterfalls. We couldn’t help but stop right away to gawk at El Capitan – a massive granite cliff face that people have actually scaled – one guy with no ropes in 2015!!

el capitan, yosemite

Since we were staying in Housekeeping Camp in the valley, we went straight there to park the car and utilize the free shuttle. We took the shuttle to stop #7 (or E2 if you’re on the El Capitan shuttle that only runs in the summer months) and walked across the Swinging Bridge (to avoid taking the bus all the way around the valley to E7) to the start of the Four Mile Trail – our chosen hiking trail for the day.

hike, glacier point, yosemite

Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point

Despite this trails name, the one way distance to Glacier Point is in fact, 4.9miles (7,8km). Many people choose to take the shuttle up to the point and walk the trail back down. But, at 25$ per person for the bus this was not an option for us. We began the hike around 11am, not the most ideal time for a 17km hike. The trail begins with some steep switchbacks, straightens out and continues with quite a few more switchbacks. Most of the beginning of the trail is under tree cover which provide some welcome shade. The views become even more spectacular as you ascend. With the inviting Merced River, powerful Yosemite Falls and eventually Half Dome, you get to experience so much of the Yosemite valleys beauty in one hike. We took it slow, stopping for pictures, water breaks and snacks along the route. We arrived at the top of Glacier Point in just over 3 hours.

yosemite falls, tosemite yosemite valley

Our celebratory cool drink atop the peak was soon interrupted by a thunder storm rolling in so we started our descent pretty quickly just to get off the top of the mountain. By the time we got down to the valley again our knees and lower backs could feel each of those 17km! Thankfully, we could catch the El Capitan  shuttle back to E1 and then just walked the rest of the way back to Housekeeping Camp.

half dome, yosemite

Housekeeping Camp

After staying outside the park when we visited Yellowstone, and having to travel over 60kms each day into and out of the park we really wanted to stay inside the park this time. But – we had read and heard that bookings for campsites were rarely available. Bookings open up five months in advance and are fully booked during summer months often within the first few minutes of reservations opening up!! We really thought we had no chance seeing that our trip was such a last minute decision. Two days before our trip I was frantically searching for accommodation nearby, cheap enough and nice enough when I found myself on Yosemite’s website. I had just about given up hope and was checking every lodge and campsite within the park for our dates and was so surprised when housekeeping camp came up as available. I hadn’t even heard of Housekeeping Camp before!!

Turns out, housekeeping camp is a “campsite” that consists of three walled structures with a canvas roof and one canvas side. Each unit has a double bed, one set of bunk beds, a shelf and a mirror inside. Outside each unit is a little verandah area with a picnic table and a fire ring just outside out it. Exactly what we needed for just one night in the park (although I could have happily stayed there much longer). There are showers available at Housekeeping Camp. You get vouchers for these when you check in. (Keep them safe for the duration of your stay -they’re also valid for the hotel swimming pool!). Showing your shower pass gets you a free towel and the showers are supplied with shampoo and body wash!

Campfire Meals

After feeling clean and refreshed we were starving for dinner. We bought some charcoal for 10$ at the general store at the campsite and a lighter for 1$. We set a picnic blanket next to our fire pit and started a fire – of course we were going to braai for dinner! On went our pork steak and down went a couple of beers! Some roasted marshmallows were enjoyed and off to bed we went. After our 3:30am start, we were both so ready for sleep!

Quiet time is from 10pm and though the campsite was lively and full of families it was a super pleasant environment. We slept well, the beds were comfy and the bathrooms nearby. If we came back to Yosemite we would totally stay here again.

Day 2

We set our alarms for 8am and got some coffee from the general store. We were able to have breakfast and pack up at a leisurely pace before 9:30am to start our second day. Our second day included three smaller hikes around the valley. We planned to use the shuttle again on the second day and leave our car parked at Housekeeping Camp. From stop #12 the shuttle can often be pretty busy as it picks up all the visitors from the day parking area just before it. A few buses passed us by before we were finally able to catch one and head to our first hike of the day – Mirror Lake.

Mirror Lake

A popular little hike only 3 miles (4,6km) round trip up to a lake. You can walk along a trail or along a paved road. The lake changes seasonally as it is all snow melt run off but is still a popular place to swim and hang out. We took off our shoes and waded through the water before going back. We hopped back on the bus only an hour or so after we started and headed to our next little “hike” for the day.

yosemite, mirror lake

Lower Yosemite Falls

At stop #6 you’ll find an entrance to this hike which makes an easy little loop trail. Only a mile long and all paved makes it a very accessible and highly popular trail. Stand on the bridge. Starie up at the lower part of the falls. Feel the spray of it in the breeze. AMAZING!! This is the 4th largest waterfall in the world and often stops running by mid summer to fall. This year however they expect it to run all year through as the snow melt has been so huge!

yosemite falls, yosemite

At this, we took the shuttle back to pick up our car. We headed off to our third and final trail of the day. This one was outside of the valley area toward an exit. It made sense to do it on our route out of the park.

Merced Grove

This one is another 3 miler – a quick drop down to a sequoia grove and a slower climb up. The information board suggests it takes 3 to 4 hours but I think that’s a large over estimation. We went down, gawked at the size of them and took a few pictures. We were back up at the car in an hour and 10 minutes. At the bottom there is a 1 mile loop to Twin Bridges if you want to extend your hike.

sequoia, yosemite

The trail starts on Big Oak Flat road at the B7 marker. There is a parking lot and a turn out space for a few more cars. There is a restroom at the start of the trail too! This was helpful as we were heading out the park from here and back to Tahoe.

Yosemite Fees

Yosemite entrance fees: $30 per non commercial vehicle

Interagency annual pass: $80 (this gets you into all national parks in the US for 12 months)

Housekeeping Camp: $98 per night (for up to four people)


Yosemite brings our total National Park tally to four in the USA so far.

Have you explored any and which has been your favourite? 

festival, Fishing, Korea, life in korea, nature, outdoors, thelazyfisherman

Ice fishing

It took us almost two years to finally go ice fishing. Considering what a fishing fanatic I am this is actually ridiculous. Each time we planned to go our plans were thwarted by work (the Korean last minute “didn’t we tell you about it two months ago-you have training on Saturday”) or weather (the -17°C plus wind chill factor that us Durbanites just can’t handle).

Continue reading “Ice fishing”

Korea, life in korea, nature, outdoors, South Korea

Jirisan National Park – A Surprise Winter Wonderland

Jirisan National Park

Right at the end of November we planned a trip to Jirisan National Park. We had been before, doing a small hike to Ssangyesa Temple, but this time we went to a different part of the Park, to Nogodan Peak. My co-teacher had recommended it as an easy, yet pretty walk. One that was easy enough for her daughter to tag along too, without (too much) complaining.
We had hoped that there would still be some pretty, colourful leaves around (the “hike” is popular for this), but understood that it might be a little too late in the season and therefore may be greeted with bare trees and a dull landscape. Well boy were we surprised, and in for a treat!

Dangerous Roads

We arrived at the park entrance, only to be turned around, due to icy roads and bad conditions up ahead. We waited on the side of the road for Hyun Ju. As it turns out, they were only letting four wheel drive cars in – she totally misunderstood that one and reassured the guards that her car did in fact have four wheels and that we were aware of the bad road conditions (we have all had a good chuckle over this since! Can you imagine our little blue Matiz being a four-wheel drive haha).

Snow Much Fun

I was getting giddy with excitement at the odd patches of ice and snow on the side of the winding mountain road. We parked in a lot where a sign board had been placed to warn of snow on the road ahead. It was a 20 minute walk up to the actual car park, and entrance to the trail for Nogodan Peak. We quickly added an extra layer of clothing after feeling the wind race around us.

Walking up the road, we giggled profusely as we slipped around on the melted snow. We wondered how on earth we were going to manage this walk up! It got a little better, with much thicker snow and by now my excitement was all there! Clapping hands and stomping my feet I couldn’t contain it. Hailing from Durban, South Africa, snow is still a super exciting and novel thing, especially when its real snow and a SURPRISE!!!  So commenced the snowball fights (or more like snowballs to the bum from HaYeon) and the kids gloves were soaked before we even got to the trail head!

Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea
Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea

Jirisan National Park, winter, South KoreaJirisan National Park, winter, South KoreaWinter Wonderland

The actual walk was so beautiful. It wound along a little road that was completely covered in soft, fluffy, fresh white snow! I couldn’t stop ooohing and aaahing and saying how beautiful and magical and wonderful it all was! Despite the snow, we were blessed with fairly “warm” weather and beautiful blue skies. The walk to the shelter just before the peak took us a little longer than expected (due to many picture stops and the kids building snowmen at every opportunity). We were rewarded with great views and some wonderful soft white snowy areas to make some snow angels. We sat down to have our little picnic of peanuts and chocopies. Some very kind men next to us gave us one of their cup noodles to share! We love experiencing this Korean kindness!

Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea
Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea

Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea

Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea

We didn’t make it to the actual peak after having our picnic – the children were cold and tired. Mark and I also wanted to get going at a reasonable time. A 3 hour trip back home on a Sunday evening isn’t the best. In saying that, it is still an easy hike with great views and a great trail. We walked a total of 9,5kms (including the extra walk from the bottom car park) and it took us 4 hours (all that photo taking and snow frolicking). The entrance to the park was W3000 per person. We had such an enjoyable day, and we would highly recommend it to anyone! It was really great to see another part of Jirisan and experience it in a completely opposite season too!

Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea
Fall, Korea, life in korea, National Parks, nature, seasons, South Korea, thelazyfisherman

Seoraksan National Park

Korea has an abundance of many things, mountains and National Parks are near the top of that list. What better place to show of your latest hiking gear in seasonal colors than hiking a mountain inside a national park? Or, if like us, you don’t have matching couples hiking gear and when you’re keen to head up a mountain you just wear whatever is handy and go. This often brings a few stares and questions like: are you going to be warm enough, cool enough and possibly some variations of are you seriously going up the mountain in that? Maybe they were just laughing at my skinny legs?

Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan is one of the better known parks and boasts an impressive number of trails to suit all abilities as well as a cable car if you really just want some nice views and no effort. We have been to Seoraksan twice, once in Spring and once in Autumn. I feel like each time we went, we were visiting a different park. The park also obviously boasts a temple (can’t turn around in Korea without seeing one of these), the largest, (seated, bronze) Buddha in the world and some impressive grounds and statues before you even get to the actual hiking.


Seoraksan in the Fall

Our second visit to the park was during Autumn and the main reason was the see the foliage in all it’s splendor. We were not disappointed. This time around we chose a shorter hike up to a cave that housed a temple (of course) as well as a monk who lived up there! The hike started  off as a pleasant walk through the forest with lots of leaves to oooh and aaah at. Things get a bit more rough underfoot as the trail goes along a river, which was quite impressive, there had been a lot of rain and it was in full flow. The rushing water provided a great soundtrack to our hike. After this things got a bit more serious as we started to climb. The trail goes past Biseondae, a rock which has some Korean folklore attached to it. After this you head straight up to the cave housing the temple. The view from up here is breathtaking and on a quiet day the monk will even brew you a cup of tea.

Cable Car

This is very well managed and you can buy tickets ahead of time for a specific time that day. This means you don’t have to wait in line for ages. Once you reach the top there are a few look out points and another short trail that goes even further up. Take this trail. It’s worth it. The trail goes to the peak itself, which unlike most viewpoints in Korea has no railings or platforms. Most people just scramble up the steep mountain side to see how high they can get too take the most impressive photo. Unfortunately for us it had been a rainy weekend and there were lots of clouds about when we got to the top.

If you’re looking for a park to visit in Korea definitely add this one to your list. It is also very close to Sokcho which has nice beaches and is easily reached by public transport. When we visited in the Spring we took a bus from Busan to Sokcho (it was long and torturous). This time, however, we visited Seoraksan National Park on Day 2 of our trip with Enjoy Korea (on Day 1 we had visited The DMZ and the 4th infiltration tunnel).

We don’t often travel with tour groups, but for something this far and action packed, sometimes it’d just easier. How do you prefer to travel – group tours or on your own? 
Korea, nature, outdoors, South Korea, The DMZ

THe DMZ aka propaganda central

The rest of the world knows very little about South Korea other than the fact that they have super fast internet and are technically still at war with North Korea.

This war leads to sporadic missile tests by their childlike leader and the odd foray into the demilitarized zone, otherwise known as the DMZ, by North Korean soldiers. This is a zone that stretches from the west coast to the east coast. It is 4 km wide and 250 km long. Lined on both sides with electric fences, tank traps, landmines and waiting armies. It serves as a barrier between the communist North and the democratic South. Also lining each border, here’s the strange part, are observatories where the public can visit.
At these observatory points you can try and peer through the fences and across 4 km of mountains and valleys and on a clear day catch a glimpse of the dreaded enemy territory! If this doesn’t work they have cameras with telescopic lenses set up all over. Inside the building at Eulji Observatory Post, we were lucky enough to get a short talk by a Korean soldier in English. He explained all about the DMZ and what it entails, took us through all the camera views, zoomed in on North Korean outposts, farm lands and mountain peaks and told us a few tales about the happenings of the DMZ. I don’t want to ruin the experience and tell you everything, but there are tales involving naked ladies…

Conditions at the observation points are pretty strict, no photos allowed, armed soldiers everywhere, buses get searched before they get to approach. They even ask you to turn off the location services on your phone in case you get tracked by the enemy! Before we did this, we quickly opened our maps and took a screenshot of how far north we were!

After visiting the actual observation point we went down to view an infiltration tunnel dug by North Korea. This was the 4th infiltration tunnel discovered by the south, and was quite a sight to see. You get to the tunnel by walking down a spacious tunnel drilled with some impressive equipment that the South Koreans used to intercept the the North Korean tunnel. Once you get to the interception point you get to go on a fun ride on an electric train for a short trip into and back out of the NK tunnel. It is at this point that you realize the stark difference between North and South resources. Having just walked down a tunnel you could very easily swing a couple of cats in, you get to a small tunnel, barely high enough for most people to walk hunched in. Apparently the average height of the NK male is 1.6m. The walls show the marks of picks and some holes drilled for dynamite. They must have taken ages to get as far as they did. Once South Korea got wind of their tunnel, they drilled through and intercepted it in short order.
The other thing that really stood out when we visited this site was the “information” video we had to watch before being allowed into the tunnel. This turned out to be nothing more than a tirade on how evil and disingenuous the North are, constantly trying to infiltrate and take over the South. Quite a laugh actually. We realised how propaganda plays a part everywhere, not only in the North where we are told it happens so severely.
We also made a short visit to an area just outside the DMZ called Dutayeon that had for many years been off limits to the public. Here they had a few interactive experiences and displays. At these displays, you can hear what gunfire and mines sound like and see some of the gear that was used during the war. The area itself was quite beautiful with a river running through the valley, a waterfall and of course the fall foliage on display. Photo opportunities for days.

A photo posted by Mark Scrooby (@thelazyfisherman) on

We did this whole day as part of a group tour with Enjoy Korea and it was well worth it. We spent the Saturday traveling up north to the DMZ and the Sunday at Seoraksan National Park. The tour included all transportation and accommodation as well as entrance fees  and registration at all attractions. Everything was planned out and arrangements were made prior to our arrival. We just had to arrive on time. Although we usually prefer to travel on our own and make our own arrangements, Korea has very little of their tourism  geared towards English speakers, so the language barrier can be an issue. We have never been disappointed on an Enjoy Korea trip.

How do you prefer to travel? Group tours or your own way?

beach, Camping, Fall, Fishing, Korea, life in korea, nature, outdoors, South Korea

Namyeol Beach Camping

beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea

Korea has been blessed with a few things – endless mountains immediately spring to mind. But they also have an incredible number of islands and peninsulas scattered along their coast line. Some of these are absolutely stunning! You could almost believe you were on a tropical beach anywhere else in the world. What better way to enjoy them than with some beach camping?

Beach Camping

We had, due to the weather, again, and some prior commitments, missed out on camping on Namyeol beach with a group of friends at the end of summer. After seeing photos from their trip we decided we had to go there. The beach itself is situated near the eastern tip of the Goheung peninsula. Clear blue water, white sandy beach and a backdrop of rice paddies terraced up the hills.
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
We went there towards the end of September, which is after summer has officially ended in Korea. This means that, even though the weather is still very good (probably better for camping than during the heat of summer) the beaches are almost deserted. Also, what used to be a pay-to-camp stretches of beach are now free. Our best kind of camping! There are still public bathrooms to use as well as a small convenience store to stock up on basics, like ramen and makgeolli. There were showers but they were locked due to the season being over. The outdoor washing up areas had no water. There was, however, a hose outside the bathrooms and some basins in the toilets for basic washing up/brushing teeth etc.

Camping Spots

After a bit of scouting around we settled on a spot under the trees at the edge of the beach. Initially the only other people around were a few groups set up in the parking lot itself, tents pitched on the paving stones. Namyeol Beach is also a popular surf spot in Korea and there were a few surfers around (although the waves were pretty intermittent and small). In the summer there are surfboards and wetsuits available for rent if you’re interested in that!
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea

Afternoon Hikes

As we had gotten there quite early we had the beach almost to ourselves. Later in the afternoon a few other families set up camp just for the day. A large hiking group came to celebrate their hike, but left as soon as it got dark. We spent the day lounging around on our inflatable “sofas”, sipping on local makgeolli and taking dips in the ocean to cool off.  This led to us hiking up the side of the small cliff next to the bay to watch the sun go down. Excellent idea as it was an absolutely stunning sunset. The beach is also referred to as sunrise beach – they are quite impressive there. If you’re not to keen on waking up early the sunset is a great alternative…

beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea

 Campfire Burning

The stunning sunset meant we stayed up there for quite a while drinking in the tranquility (and the makgeolli). We may have spent a bit too long up there, only to realise we hadn’t yet collected firewood for a campfire. Definitely can’t go camping without a campfire! The evening was pleasantly warm and we certainly didn’t need a fire other than for ambiance. A few trips down to beach with torches soon remedied this. Our campfire was soon lit and we were ready for a very lazy dinner of ramen and spam under the stars.

New Friends

The following morning was spent lazing around again and making friends with somebody’s collie dog. He was super friendly and loved fetching pine cones, even ones we hadn’t thrown. I also tried a bit of fishing of the rocks on the far side of the bay but no luck. We packed up just before lunch and started heading back home. The reason we left early was so that I could try a few dams on the way back to see if they held any fish. This led to an entertaining meeting with a local farmer but, unfortunately, no fish.
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
beach camping, namyeol beach, south korea
As a beach camping spot this one is great. There are good facilities, even in the off season. The beach is very nice and the water temperature was bearable. There is lots of space to set up and the beach camping is free in the off season. Camp sites in Korea can get very crowded and camp sites on popular beaches even more so!
Has anyone been to Namyeol during the summer, does it get busy? Or has anyone surfed there? Let us know in the comments.

Here’s a quick video of our weekend in Goheung!

beach, Japan, nature, Okinawa, travel


Summer vacations (or any vacation) to me means beach. Sun, sand, sea. So with our trip to Japan, I was concerned about where or how I was going to get my beach time in. In our past school vacations from Korea, we have traveled to Indonesia and the Philippines. So Japan is not exactly the place where beach party pops to mind, but rather temples, shrines, sushi and kimonos! But don’t forget about the thousands of outlying islands! Okinawa is a well-know island just a short flight away. One Google image search had me sold. I booked flights out of Osaka for Mark and I and got to sorting out our visas. To our surprise and excitement, our visa fee was wavered because we were visiting Okinawa. For us South Africans this was a small victory! On collection of our passports, the staff at the embassy pointed out to us that the remarks section in our visa had “Okinawa” written on it so now we had to go! After some research online I discovered that due to both natural and nuclear disasters, some areas and islands in Japan allow you a free visa to promote tourism in those areas. 

So after my few days in Tokyo, Mark and I met up in Osaka where we hopped on a plane to Okinawa – an island a few hundred km south of mainland Japan. We spent one night in Naha (the main city in which the airport and Tomari ferry terminal is located), sampling the delicious taco rice that Okinawa is known for, as well as Okinawan Soba and Orion beer, produced on the island. We stumbled upon this little “restaurant” with the oldest man I’ve ever seen who poured our beers (really slowly) and actually prepared our food himself. I eagerly tried to snap a pic of him but I think he is a bit shy!!
OKinawa Soba, Orion Berr, Okinawa Taco rice

After that we headed for some drinks in the downtown area around Kokusai Dori (Street). We sampled some local craft beers from Helios Pub, which were very good but pricey. Later on we ended up at a strange little bar, Bar Rehab, where we got a history lesson on Okinawa and the US occupation of it during the war from a “local”. He was actually Canadian and married to a lady from Okinawa and had been living there for many years.
We ummed and ahhed about taking a day trip out to a smaller island- Zamami as it was scheduled to rain. We decided that we probably wouldn’t be back in Japan any time soon so we should just do it! So off we went to Zamami Island….well that’s the island we had planned to go to and researched, but it turns out we bought tickets for the wrong ferry and ended up at another island,  Tokashiki, which was just as beautiful (and closer so less time on the ferry). We took the smaller, fast ferry – the Marine Liner (2490Y) so it got us there in about 35 minutes. There was a minibus waiting at the port where we had to pay 500Y for a 10 minute ride to the beach on the other end of the island. On the way back to Okinawa we took the slower ferry as the fast ferry was cancelled due to bad weather. That was a bit cheaper (1660Y) and a bit slower too.
Tokashiki Port, Okinawa, Japan

Tokashiki Port, Okinawa, Keramas
Aharen Beach was magnificent, with beautiful sunshine and azure waters and we totally high-fived each other for our good decision making skills! We quickly hired an umbrella and bought some beers, before diving into the beautiful water. The wind picked up a little, and it wasn’t long before the clouds rolled in and the rain plummeted down, soaking right through our umbrella, bags, towels and even diluting my beer!! We ran for cover into the ocean (the rain drops were so big and hard on my shoulders). Luckily these tropical rain storms only last a few minutes, and it wasn’t long before we were enjoying the sunshine and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters again.
Aharen Beach, Tokashiki Island, Okinawa, Japan

Aharen Beach, Tokashiki Island, Okinawa, Japan

Aharen Beach, Tokashiki Island, Okinawa, Japan


We spent 4 glorious days on Toguchi Beach, Yomitan. We basked in the sunshine, watched the magnificent afternoon storms, drank copious amounts of Japanese beer and ate sashimi everyday (sometimes twice)! We had such a great time here, and it was probably my favourite part of the trip. We woke up at our leisure daily, had a morning beach walk or swim, followed by some breakfast. Everyday before lunch we walked to the local store and bought fresh fillets of tuna and salmon. (This is definitely recommended as it is so cheap and so delicious!) We also made a concerted effort to try every different beer we could find in the supermarket, this was a hit and miss strategy. Our afternoons were spent snoozing on the couch (in the aircon – haha) and escaping the humidity, and then watching the gorgeous afternoon storms. Usually they cleared up within half an hour, where after we grabbed the kayaks or SUP’s (stand up paddle boards) and enjoyed our uninhibited access to the beautiful water. We were so lucky that our CouchSurfing host had such a sweet spot, and such a welcoming and friendly attitude! We felt like we were at home, and really had a real, relaxing and restful vacation! After our few days of bliss we packed up and took a taxi to the airport for our short flight to Osaka. We hoped the few days of rest would prepare us for some real “tourist-ing” in the heat of the Japanese summer during the last leg of our trip in Osaka.
 Okinawa fisherman, Yomitan, Toguchi beachToguchi Beach, Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan
Toguchi Beach, Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan
Toguchi Beach, Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan, Sunset
Toguchi Beach, Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan, Sunset
Toguchi Beach, Yomitan, Okinawa, Japan, Sunset


In Okinawa we had our first couch surfing experience. For those of you who don’t know, CouchSurfing is essentially a service/website where you can meet people who live where you are traveling. You can meet up with locals to sight-see or have a meal together, or they may have a couch or room available for you. In essence you have friends to stay with all over the world; you just haven’t met them yet (some paraphrasing going on there from their website)! It obviously takes some common sense and (very) careful consideration about who you feel comfortable meeting up or staying with. You are encouraged to fill in your profile and read references about your host or surfer. So after all this, we stayed with a guy from the US who is working in the military in Okinawa. He had this wonderful home right on the beach, kayaks, snorkeling gear and such an open mind and heart! He had two other people staying with him at the time, a guy from Israel who lives in Taiwan and a Chinese girl from America who teaches on mainland Japan. We all got on so well and just had the best time. Meeting other people from different countries is always so interesting (I ask way too many questions followed by many “wowwww”s). I guess it’s not for everyone (and I also realise that we might have landed with our bums in the butter in this one) but our stay in Okinawa left me with the best feeling in my heart! It was truly one of my greatest experiences.

Here’s a video of our (too short) time in Okinawa! My favourite part is our SUP adventures at the end!!!
Camping, Fishing, Korea, nature, outdoors, South Korea, thelazyfisherman

Pohang Beach Camping

Memorial Day Weekend

A long weekend in June, thanks to Memorial Day gave us the perfect time to do some beach camping! A little bit of research and a reluctance to spend too many hours in traffic led us to Pohang. A slightly obscure blog post mentioned a secluded beach, next door to Pohang’s main beach Chilpo, where camping was possible away from the crowds. Kayley’s navigation and investigation skills eventually led us there. Initially it didn’t look too promising as the roads went through a very industrial area that wasn’t too inviting. It did, however, lead to a small fishing village with a lovely little beach that we ended up staying on for 2 nights/3days. At first, we had just headed straight into the village and spotted some cars that were parked very close to where we wanted to camp but there were no roads from the village. We backtracked a bit and found an access road right down to the beach. Guerilla camping heaven.

Beach Camping

A few Korean families were set up well back from the beach on a grassy area, so we proceeded to set up right on the beach near a few small cliffs that provided a nice shelter from the wind, some privacy and a handy “camping loo”. We set up our tent, did a bit of beach clean up and collected some firewood. There was also lots of ocean debris around that we ended up using to make a lounge area and outdoor kitchen around our camp fire. We ended up having a very comfortable set up.

beach camping, south korea, pohang, chilpo
beach camping, south korea, pohang, chilpo
beach camping, south korea, pohang, chilpo

Relaxation and Fun

When we arrived, the weather wasn’t the best, but it was pleasant enough to be beach camping and we even got some sun on Sunday (with a bit of wind). We woke up on Monday morning to a beautiful sunrise and the rain held off until Monday afternoon while we were packing up. We spent the days lounging around enjoying the outdoors, reading, fishing and learning some Gaelic football moves. I also did a bit of fishing off the rocks and managed to catch a few strange looking fish. We had a big bonfire each night, as well as our delicious samgyupsal (pork belly) and lamb chops dinners. We spent the evenings sitting around the fire swapping stories with our friends John and Neeta. Fortunately firewood was plentiful.

beach camping, south korea, pohang, chilpo

beach camping, south korea, pohang, chilpo, fishing in korea

beach camping, south korea, pohang, chilpo
beach camping, south korea, pohang, chilpo

Facilities and Entertainment

The main beach (Chilpo-Ri) was very close to where we camped and there was a small shop for ice/beer/water etc as well as large public bathrooms if you were really desperate. The ocean was cold but good enough for a quick rinse if you felt the need. The beach was soft sand. It was really very picturesque with the little fishing village and harbour in the distance.
The Sunday evening was a lot busier and quite a few Korean families set up  to do some beach camping, but it never got crowded. The entertainment for the evening was a Korean man who had probably had a few too many drinks and tried to show off to his friends by driving along the beach. He proceeded to get stuck in the very soft sand and it took an hour, two other off-road vehicles and a four-wheeler to eventually get him off the beach.

beach camping, south korea, pohang, chilpo


After packing up, Kayley and I took the “scenic” route back home. We meandered along the coast line up to the Homigot (Hand of Harmony). Pohang is very well know for this giant hand statue in the ocean that apparently sees the first sunrise of the  Korean New Year. If you time it right, you can snap a picture of the sun resting in the hand. Of course this means there are hordes of people trying to capture the perfect selfie and making weird poses (we did the same…) Lots of small Korean restaurants in the area to grab a bite. There are also a few coffee shops if you’re looking for something a bit more western. The drive along the coastal road is a bit tedious and time-consuming though!

beach camping, south korea, pohang, chilpo
Guerilla camping (and beach camping) has been the best thing we’ve done in Korea. It allows us to escape the city and get some reasonably fresh air and enjoy a bit of nature. Being able to camp just about anywhere has made it a lot of fun to explore the countryside.

Have you tried camping in Korea? Have any favourite spots?
bass, Camping, fly fishing, Korea, nature, outdoors, South Korea, thelazyfisherman

Jinan Camping

Jinan turned out to be one of the best places we’ve camped at in Korea. After our exploits in   Gucheondong we decided to take a drive out here based on City Girl Searching’s post.

Yongdam Dam is a massive man made reservoir in a valley between the mountains and right at the outflow of the reservoir where it turns to almost natural river again is a big, commercial, “camp on top of your neighbours and make sure to bring your projector” traditional Korean camp site called 섬바위캠핑. But lucky for us, just behind this camp site there is a  convenient little access road where  you can get right onto the river bank and set up camp next to your car. Of course this means no electricity, shower or ablutions, but we are okay with that. We definitely don’t mind being unplugged for a while. Guerilla camping at its best.
There were only a few other people set up on the river bank, but they were quite far away from us. Firewood was plentiful, as well as lots of rocks around to make a fire pit. We had chosen a good spot though and the fire pit was already made! The nights were still quite cool at this time of the year so a campfire is a must. Of course, it adds to the ambience too! Who wants to camp without a fire?? The views up and down the valley were quite magnificent, Korea really is blessed with some incredible natural landscapes and being able to take advantage of this, now that we have a car, has made our second year in Korea much easier.

I, of course, was immediately attracted to the river to see if any fish were to be found! The river proved to be quite full of life with schools of small fish all over the place, they did not seem interested in any of the flies I was chucking their way though. There were a few other guys around set up for catching carp/babel but I didn’t seem them catch anything. One old man came and fished next to our camp spot for about an hour in the Korean style of at least 3 rods in the water and he managed to catch one small chub. Lots of people were on their hands and knees in the river searching for fresh water muscles/clams and possibly crabs or snails. In Korea most living things are considered food!
It was towards the late afternoon that I spotted  a few bass darting around and a local fisherman also said there were Sogari in the river. Sogari is a hugely popular eating fish in Korea and shares the same habitat as bass so their numbers have dwindled. I eventually found a bass sitting on a spawning site and tried for about an hour to get it to take a swipe at every lure in my bag before giving up. The next morning I woke up early and decided to give it another shot and finally manged to get it to bite. It was safely released back into the water and went straight back to its bed.

Most of the day was spent lazing around in the sun, sipping beers. Some birthday cake and an afternoon nap were much enjoyed, too! Kayley loves reading her book whilst watching me tramp up and down the river bank. We spent the evening around the fire enjoying the peace and quiet of the great out doors and a South African braai of lamb chops and potatoes done in the coals. Delicious!

We only spent one night there but would definitely recommend it to anybody looking for an escape from the city and doesn’t mind roughing it a bit with no facilities.