Just past Wonju, the topography starts to get more and more rugged: it makes the “mountains” around Seoul look like little hills. But passing by them, I felt like I was in the Appalachians again. It’s because they are so furrowed, so there are sooo many more ridges and hollows to them. Much more so than in the Pacific Northwest. I really really like it: it makes each little hollow seem so much more intimate, as if there are many secret places. Plus like in the Appalachians, there are many more deciduous trees than in the Pacific Northwest, and I like that as well – Maybe I wouldn’t like it so much in the winter, but here in the spring, the canopy is just this thick, thick, blanket of green.
Unlike the Appalachians, however, the foliage seems much much thicker. The deciduous trees here aren’t as delicate and less sunlight comes through them. And the pines are quite beefy as well. The variety I saw the most of were these pictured above – with thick, slightly crooked reddish trunks, and the needles appear quite large and in lush clumps. It has a more ancient feel to it. And quite lovely is the fact that I saw not one clear-cut logging area anywhere.
One anecdote we heard was that Danoje was very important for appeasing the Gods (which reside in the mountains). One of the few natural disasters the Gangneum area has had, a small typhoon which wiped out many buildings and livelihoods, happened the same year the highway was erected through the mountains. So afterward, the city decided that preserving the festival was something they could not risk stopping, and I guess scholars think the rituals during this festival have been going on for a thousand years.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the beach, but it is only 20 minutes away and supposed to be quite nice.