escaping the city


Even though I live in the country, it’s nice to get away sometimes.  And, because I’m surrounded by beauty, I thought I should check out some of the local sights.  My friend Clara was all pumped to have a relaxing weekend away from Seoul, so the two of us headed east.

Doing research the way I love to do, I found way too many things.  This region is not rife with historic artifacts like the southern region is, but it IS full of sublime vistas of natural beauty.  So, to get our feet wet I chose Gangchon and Munbae, and then a brief un-planned circuit of Chuncheon.  The timing of pre-season May was perfect, even though many of the famed flowers were not yet in bloom, because right now the trains east around here are so packed with Koreans escaping the city that it’s hard to get a seat and every remote path and every lodging is booked, and even then it was a bit crowded.  So here are some photos from our two day get-away.

Seoul residents get off at Gangchon Station
even the train station is picturesque
the little town hugs one side of the river
It feels kind of wild west in a Korean kind of way

We rented bikes and followed signs up to Gugok falls.  Which was really a workout for us soft English teachers using bikes whose gears didn’t work!

one of the pretty bridges on the way to the falls. would like to come back when the trees are in full leaf.
Clara and I stack rocks, praying to Budda to deliver us from lonliness. This stack is NOT one of our creations, but someone with infinitely more zen than either of us.
maybe if stacking rocks doesn't work, making an asian heart pose will...
Gugok falls
We crested the ridge in search of bi bim bop in the tiny village of Munbae, which means wild pear
This little guy was here to greet us, along with his very drunk master. While Clara cooed at the dog, I wa more interested in photographing the log cabin
staying warm in a small village is a lot of work

After we got back to town, we stopped for cappuccinos and had some fun hitting balls in a batting cage (and I missed 98% of them!) Then we tried to find a place to sleep for the night.

not up to U.S. codes, but way more interesting

An enterprising ajumma tried to get us to rent a room from her and she lead us up these stairs to check out the room, past the sauna below:

We have one of the broken pot covered roofs in CheongPyeong too. Don't know how if these are traditional or not, but they certainly are a pleasing organic form.

We decided it was too early to retire and waited at the bus stop to head to Chuncheon.  It was running late, so we brown-bagged some makkolli and enjoyed our wait in style.  As soon as we got to the bus terminal, we asked a taxi driver to take us to a cheap hotel (well, Clara asked for a cheap hotel since she took real classes and can speak survival Korean whereas I can barely speak at all) and we watched a movie.

In the morning we checked out and walked around Chuncheon – which is, really and truly, one of the most beautiful cities in the world because not only is it surrounded by mountains, but also it chose to preserve its lake-front/river-front location with public access, parks, and amenities, and all the bridges crossing it are a visual delight.

one of many lovely bridges in Chuncheon
walk of pain -- err, foot reflexology path at the river-side park
We decided to take a ferry to Jungdo island in Chuncheon, and walked past a lovely museum grounds. It was like out of a movie, as they were playing classical music, and people were sitting leisurely in its garden looking at this view.

The island was like this giant picnic spot and it was a real family place.  It also had cabins for rent.  We stopped and napped under a tree before heading back to our respective single foreigner English teacher lives to prepare lessons for the next day.  It would be nice to just be a tourist in Korea.  Superficially, this is an awesome place to visit, but the jury’s still out on if I’d want to live here.  I guess like most places, the good and bad kind of cancel each other out.  I’m sure it is different for those that have meaningful relationships.

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One thought on “escaping the city

  1. i really like the pics. i’m glad to see spring has arrived and the place looks more alive. you and clara looked like yall had a good time! i wish i couldve been there. it’s makes me sad that i cant jump on a train or bus to come visit you anymore :(

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