My mom desperately wanted to get out of Seoul (I don't blame her) and visit a more shigol area. Thanks to the help of my cousin we decided to take a day trip to 춘천 (Chuncheon), the capital of Gangwon Province.
You can get to Chuncheon by car, bus, or train. Heng told me that a 고속 bus would be the quickest option from Bundang, so we caught a bus from the Yaptap bus terminal. About an hour and half-long nap later, we were in Chuncheon (Bus Terminal).
At first, Chuncheon looked a lot like Seoul, only less people, less litter, and less traffic. It was quite nice. We picked up a map from the Tourist Info Center, then with Heng's helpful instructions, headed out to find the bus to Soyang Dam. Unfortunately, people gave us conflicting directions so it took us a while to find the bus stop for the #11 bus to Soyang Dam.
We waited at the bus stop for a little bit, staring at the "Pumpkin" Night Club, but we started to get a little antsy, so we hopped in a cab. The driver said that it would only take 10 minutes, but I think the drive took about about 15 minutes.
The Soyang Dam was an interesting sight. I tried to take a picture, but our taxi driver aka Speed Racer flew up the mountain (I think he was trying to get there in 10 minutes). I didn't even have time to take out my camera.
This picture of the lake (and mom & I) will have to suffice.
Once at Soyang Dam, we were able to take a boat to 청평사잘 (Cheongpyeongsa Temple). I wish my dongsaeng Doogal were with us, but I don't think she would have enjoyed the boat ride. It was short, but quite choppy.
I know this sounds very childish, but the boat ride made my feel like Big Bird in China. Since I usually worked on Saturdays, I never really made an effort to explore the world outside of Seoul. It's easy to mistake Seoul as a representative for all of Korea. I'm not a nature person per se, but I do miss being surrounded by trees and water that weren't planted by a Mayor aspiring to be President. The boat ride on Soyang Lake was a refreshing reminder of Korea's lush, green beauty. I regret not exploring more of the countryside. I must make a point to do so in the future.
Chuncheon is known for its dalk galbi (Spicy marinated chicken) and mak (noodle soup), but we had 감자부침 (potato pancake), 도토리묵 (acorn jelly), and 더덕구이 (some kind of grilled root). Even though there wasn't any gogi, the meal was so tasty, like something your Korean grandmother would make.
도토리묵 (dotori muk) & 감자부침 (gamja buchim)
더덕구이 (deodeok gui)
There are so many food stalls selling absolutely the same thing, so I asked my mom, "How do they make money?"
My mom replied simply, "Luck."
It's a weekday and just before the Chuseok weekend, so tourist traffic was quite low. Apparently, it's quite busy on the weekends. I hope so. Look at those lonely stalls.
We were going to hike up to the temple, but my mom was wearing inappropriate shoes and was not feeling up to the 30 minute hike. Hence, no pictures of the temple. You'll have to use your imagination. Think of something Buddhist.
I finally decided to join the youtube bandwagon, so you can check out some scenic footage from our boat ride. I apologize in advance for the Blair Witch moments. I don't have very steady hands.
We only had the time to look around Soyang Lake, but there is a myriad of activities and landmarks around Chuncheon. You could definitely spend a couple of days looking around the city. Chuncheon is probably most famous for 나미섬 (Nami Island). Yes, you too can walk along the same foot paths as the illustrious Bae Young Joon aka Yon-sama. Chuncheon is also the home of the Gangwon Drama Gallery. It is a Japanese ajumma's Disneyland.
In addition to natural landmarks like Soyang Dam, Mt. Samaksan, and Deunseon Waterfall, you may also want to check out Munbae Village, a traditional folk village, Animation Museum, Chuncheon Shooting Range, Jade Palace, Chuncheon Coffee Theme Park, Yu-Jeong Literature Village, and MBC Children's Museum. You can also golf during the spring, ski during the winter, and paraglide in the summer.
I have not explored any of these attractions for myself, but they definitely sound interesting. I am especially intrigued by something called the "Song Monument of I feel like living in Gangchon" (강존에살고싶네노래비). I swear, I did not make that up. That's how it's listed on the map.
Chuncheon also plays host to a lot of big festivals including the Chuncheon International Play Festival (October), Chuncheon Puppet Festival (August), Chuncheon Mime Festival (May), and the Chuncheon MTB Race. According to the brochure, the Mime Festival is a 5-day event. That sounds...disturbing.
While in Chuncheon, at the very least, you must pick up the English Tour map. It has all sorts of interesting tidbits, including this blurb for the Chuncheon Preserve.
Not sure if you can see it clearly, but the caption reads, "Where you can enjoy with your family." The accompanying photo features a group of hunters smiling in front of bloody bird carcasses.
I'd rather hang out with the mimes, thank you very much.