Oh dear, aren't you the lucky ones, another post just two days after the last one. Don't worry, it's only a shortie.
With Christine's bike as fixed as it is ever going to be on this trip we set off north stopping just a few kilometres later at the town of Donghae. Looking at the map all the roads and the railway hugged the coast, I felt pretty certain that it was going to be flat....wrong, and how stupid of me to think that anything is going to be flat in this country. Despite the fact we had only been going a short while we were glad of the break, we had been on route 7, busy and horrible. The reason for our stop was another cave. The intriguing thing about this one is that it is slap bang in the centre of town, and what is more, it was only discovered in 1991. I had rather expected it to be very similar to the last cave we had visited, but I was wrong again. At the entrance to this one we were issued with hard hats and it soon became very apparent that we were going to need them. The paths were very narrow and in some places very low, so low you had to crouch right down to get through. It was pretty busy being a Saturday yet despite the low paths women still took of the hard hats, I guess they didn't want to spoil their hair does, I felt a bit the same about mine! The differences did not end there. The cave was full of stalactites, stalagmites, columns and all sort of other cave formations, all very impressive and only spoilt by the disco effect lighting (photo) that changed colours every few seconds turning a first class tourist attraction into typical Korean tourist sight tackiness. Heading out we were back on the 7 but it passed through urban areas and was nowhere near as bad. The road ran along the sea front and through the town of Mangdang, a raw fish town where in fact the fish were so raw they were swimming around on the streets, well, not literally, but the rows of restaurants had large tanks out the front with every kind of seafood swimming around. We continued to Jeongdongjin where just outside there was a large advertisement board with a building in the shape of a ship on it, I looked to my right and there it was (photo), a very unusual sight. As Christine pulled up she said "I wonder where that is?" I pointed to the right "Fuck me!" was all she could say. We checked out all the motels, a tiny seaside place packed with tacky motels. Despite the holiday season just being over every motel seemed to be empty, I was even able to haggle for a reduction, something that is normally impossible on a weekend. As we wandered around deciding where to eat and being astounded at the price of the fish menus, we spotted a couple of cycle tourists, the first we have met in South Korea. We had a brief chat, they were South Korean and Taiwanese, they had only met today and to be honest the South Korean didn't seem to happy about the fact, I rather had the impression he was wondering how he was going to get out of the situation.
So what else can I tell you about Jeongdongjin? It's a quirky little place and has a claim to fame listed in the Guinness Book of Records for having the station that is the closest to the sea, in fact one of the platforms was more like a promenade. It also has a bit a recent history attached to it. Back in 1996 a North Korean submarine was in the area doing a bit of spying and preparing to drop off 12 soldiers and agents on to land when they completely cocked it all up and ran aground in heavy weather. The Captain thinking he might have a bit of a problem talking his way out of the situation took drastic measures, at least they seem drastic measures to me but they may not be for North Korea. He set fire to all the documents on board, then felt he wouldn't entirely be able to trust all the crew, so shot the lot. The soldiers and agents were released on to land but the stricken submarine was a little bit of a give away and was spotted. It took the South Koreans 49 days to kill 12 of them and capture one. The South Koreans also lost 11 soldiers and 6 civilians. According to the blurb at the site the North Korean were "Red Army Bandits" whereas the 11 South Korean soldiers that were lost 'died a glorious death'. The same spot also happens to be the place where North Korea invaded in 1950 starting the Korean War. Needless to say the South Korean are still a bit twitchy about all this and so the whole coast is lined with a tall fence topped in barbed wire and there are still armed lookouts along the coast. We visited the submarine at the spot where it ran aground, now a Unification Park. Also there was a warship, though the only story behind that was that it was given to the South Koreans by the Americans, a cheap ploy to get rid of their knackered old ship.