65 Samcheok is known as the Cave City, and once hosted an international cave expo. The expo-park and museums are still in operation near the downtown area, and are cool in that retro, place-that-time-forgot kind of way. Naturally, there are some actual caves as well. Those are accessed via a countryside bus — ask the info folks for schedules and times. The main one, Hwanseongul, is Korea’s largest limestone cave and will cost you 4,000 won to see. After riding the mono- rail up to the entrance, set aside a couple of hours to explore the caverns on catwalks. This one is huge and has lots of bizarre psychedelic lights inside — I felt the immediate urge to become a super-villain and make it my grotto-lair — though the other cave isn’t as impres- sive, costs 12,000 won and has to be reserved online. On the bright side, it does have a monorail that goes into the cave, and that’s cool. No matter what you de- cide to do, it’ll be pretty; the whole area is loaded with minty evergreens and tendrils of mist, and feels more like Northern Europe than South Korea. Most of Samcheok’s draws are situated in a way that one area per day is the most feasible method of seeing them, so use your evenings to see what the downtown area has to offer. Low-key would be an apt descrip- tor: There’s the ubiquitous fried chicken and beer joint, a decent brick-oven pizzeria and a central park with a water show synchronized to classical music in the summer months. There is also a giant tree made of worked silver, with a scale replica of the Christ the Re- deemer statue from Rio overlooking the whole gaudy affair. Bearing all this in mind, it’s strangely comforting to sit there and people watch while enjoying the best local ale the CU Mart has to offer. Only a fool would go to Busan’s beaches in the peak months, but Samcheok is a treasure. There are several beaches nearby, but the best one, Yongwha Beach, is a 30-minute bus ride south. The white(ish) sand and a cove that curves around on both sides make for some amazing swimming. You can stand chest-deep and see your toes wriggling in the sand, and the snorkeling rules. There are speedboat rafts you can pay to ride in the summer and some other touristy amusements, but just beach-going is fine enough. But staying in one of the minbaks here, although tranquil, isn’t recommend- ed unless you enjoy subsisting on a diet of ramen and Pringles, as restaurants can be hard to come by. Just stay the day. This area is also the southern terminus of a rail bike system, which runs along old train tracks a decent stretch up the coast and through a bunch of lit-up tun- nels. The rail bike is sweet, but as usual, the fun police couldn’t let anything be that easy, so you need to buy tickets online. Once again, make the info booth people your friends and hassle them regularly. Farther down the same bus route from Yongwha Beach is one of the greatest hidden gems in Korea: Haesindang Gongwon, colloquially known as the Penis Park. Legend has it that some young maiden died a virgin in nearby waters on her wedding night, so local fisherman attempt to placate her horny spirit to en- sure good catches and friendly seas. They did this in the most logical way possible: erecting (!) giant phallic statues of all shapes and sizes along the coast. There are literally thousands of penis sculptures — a verita- ble forest of dicks. It’s weird, yeah, but perhaps the most disturbing and amusing thing about the area is watching generally conservative older Koreans gettin’ freaky with the sculptures, breaking the Korean laws of normalcy with what can best be described as an “aju-twerk.” Like staring at the sun, I can still see it when I close my eyes. Next to the park is the fishing village museum, which is neat and features some up- roariously bad taxidermy, and in the summer there’s a festival here where you can rent glass-bottomed boats to enjoy the crystal-clear waters. When you’re done looking at penises and ready to head back to town, it pays to be aggressive when getting on the bus; a lot of young soldiers will be on it, and standing the whole way back sucks. Before making your way home, consider one last attraction: the sea train, which runs between Gang- neung, Donghae and Samcheok and provides a sce- nic roll down the coast with the seats turned sideways for optimal viewing. For some reason, the operators decided it would be a good idea to enhance the ex- perience with an onboard group bingo game. We ada- mantly refused to take part, but still, it’s fun. Simply put, Samcheok is a quick and easy summer- time getaway. But there’s one final thing you should know: If going back to Seoul on a Sunday, leave in the morning or late at night to avoid traffic. If you’re new to Korea and aren’t aware of this problem, then God help you should you choose not to heed this warning. Perhaps the most disturbing and amusing thing about the area is watching usually conservative older Koreans gettin’ freaky with the penis sculptures, breaking the Korean laws of normalcy with what can best be described as an ‘aju- twerk.’ Like staring at the sun, I can still see it when I close my eyes. GEttING tHERE c Buses from Seoul to Samcheok depart from Express Bus Terminal every hour, and from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal at Gangbyeon Station every two hours.