We took the ferry from Pohang. It's not cheap but it is quite fast and comfortable. Do not expect information in English, as almost all the people going there are Korean.
the following two paragraphs are just to give you a flavour of what to expect!
On a ferry of 1100 people they sat the four non-Koreans together so we had someone to talk to. It was not was not easy to see how to book it, there is a 'phone number but expect the person at the other end to speak Korean. If you do not speak Korean you will probably need a Korean friend to help you. In the summer it gets booked up in advance, so just going down to the dock on the off-chance is not a realistic option. Please note that you HAVE to check in rather like on a plane. This is also true on the way back - HOT TIP make sure you know where the ferry office is before the day you need to come back! We were providentially looked after by the help of two young language teachers who pointed us in the right direction on more than a few occasions.
Booking accommodation is another trick. A Korean friend of our son's helped him book us a room over the 'phone and then he paid for it with an ATM transfer. He put all the details into his mobile. Great, all done. Then he dropped his mobile in the bath. He told us - 200m from the ferry, the motel next to the Family Mart. Easy. No, there are three motels next to that shop, its other side is on the road. So we went to the first. Nice people. We shared a handful of words, none relating to hotel bookings made by our son. However, they had the bright idea of ringing one of their guests who was on holiday from Seoul and who spoke English (a rare skill in those parts). He found out that they had no idea about any booking, so he very kindly (how very helpful so many Korean people are) took us to the others. They all denied any knowledge of such a booking. When we remember that it had to be changed to include a western style bed, the owner of the Ulleung Motel remembered the call, but had canceled the booking having not received the transfer. It turned out a week later that she had and refunded it to our son. We hastily went back to the Dokdo Motel and secured the one remaining room. Not cheap, but perfectly good. Not very usual by western standards (the hair brushes in the drawer came with hairs in them, for example) but fine.
When our two sons went, they camped out in one of the free camp sites, the one in the volcano crater - they liked it and the price was right.
It turns out that the standard method of booking if you do not speak Korean is to turn up and one of the hotelier ajummas with grab you on your way from the dock. However ...... as it turned out, we had arrived on day one of the annual Ulleung Squid Festival.
If you were in any doubt as to what the main product of Ulleung is, this would evaporate very quickly. It is all about the squid! They land 70% of Korea's prodigious intake of squid. Lots of places to eat, and some variety, but when we went to nearby Jeodong-ni for the Squid Festival events, you can guess what was on the menu. Naturally, being in Korea, the barbecued squid came stuffed with hot red chili paste, so make sure you get some makali (chilled rice beer) with it! Uncharacteristically for Korea, the prices were inflated, which was the only downside (other than the chili paste). The squid festival was highly entertaining, and very ... er .... squiddy.
The best thing to do on Ulleung in our opinion was to walk the cliff walkway (part path, part bridges) from Dodong-ni rear the ferry dock to Jeodong-ni. Wonderful views. Jeodong harbour is the main squid centre. The two concrete penguin loaders are really funny. We got the bus back to Dodong, it was dark and we were tired. Nobody was quite sure where it was going - to be fair there is not a great deal of choice of destination - but nobody asked for a fare either. They just seemed to want to get people back to their accommodation.
The cable car from Dodong-ni up to the summit is excellent. You have to have slight doubts when the jingle that announces its approach is "London Bridge is falling down", but presumably its builders did not know what the words of the song were. make sure you get a return ticket (they do sell singles as well - there is also a road).
There is a very nice cafe at the top with fantastic views. On a clear day, they say you can see Dokdo. However, it seems a tad too far to be actually do-able. There are enormous binoculars and an even bigger sign (with an unusual English subtitle) pointing to Dokdo. The binoculars are fixed in one direction - the only direction to look!
The Dokdo dispute was flaring up again whilst we were there. If you want to know the Korean perspective, there is the excellent Dokdo Museum next to the lower cable car station.
Duration? We went for a weekend. This was slightly short but we saw the two main villages and the Squid Festival, walked along the cliffs and took the cable car. Lots of the Koreans were going for a week's holiday.
Ulleung was beautiful and quite an experience. Like most good experience, it is the people who make it special. Kamhasamnida.
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