At present moment, I have embarked upon my final 2ish months of ROKin’ out in the Koko. It’s kind of hard to believe that 3 years have come and gone. SHWOOP! Where the flying F does the time go?! I’m actually quite sad about the wind-down because as weird as this place is, I really fucking love it. Not to mention, there are some people I’m not ready to have so far removed from my immediate life yet. I know some will bring madd waterworks. Oh well. C’est la vie! Time to start packing and shipping and all of that not fun stuff.
Yet, no matter how much I love the far East, my second home, I’m 110% ready for a new adventure. My feet are starting to get itchy and I’m hankering for a new place, new experiences, new culture and to meet a brand new slew of (minimally freakish) peeps. Topped off with guzzling wine by the bottle. Can’t forget THAT.
So then, with the impending departure rapidly approaching and a yadda yadda yadda, I’ve realized that I’ve kind of been a blub when it came to really getting out and exploring this country. I’m ashamed of it, but I definitely know I’m not alone in this state of getting land-locked in the big city and just getting too lazy to branch out. Seoul has become home, and as much as I hate monotony, I’ve gotten stuck in my ways and the day-to-day whathaveyous. With that out on the table, I’ve been on a mission to bounce my ass out of this city as much as humanly possible.
Chrissy and I have been meaning to get back to the Chuncheon/Gapyeong area for some time now. Both of us went on our own on two separate occasions about a year ago and visited Nami Island. Nami Island is a little lovers enclave, filled with lush towering greenery, and even boasts a “First Kiss Bridge” named for, as one would suspect, the first kiss of two characters on the hott Korean drama, Winter Sonata, which was apparently quite popular. The bridge is lined with melted and flattened soju bottles, which aside from most likely leading to many an inappropriate adult behavior, was super quirky and cool. They sold these bottle-dishes in the gift shop, and I played the tourist when I purchased my super Korean trinket so as to fondly remember all those wild nights I had with the Devil’s water. I hate to love you, little green 1 dollar bottle!
These two couple-wear rockin love birds probably just shared a romantic kiss where many other fans did before them. Giggle worthy.
You can leave your mark for all eternity on these special snowmen, just as Winter Sonata likely had on all those fans’ hearts. Maybe take a selfie with them while you’re at it?
I strolled down this romantic lovers lane, hand-in-hand with myself.
Lots of funkiness to break up the serene on this island. Do your boobs hang low? Do they wobble to-and-fro?
Chuncheon is known for its dakgalbi and makguksu, which also happen to be two of my favorite Korean cuisines. Dakgalbi, a marinated chicken dish that’s stir fried with cabbage and rice cakes in a spicy pepper sauce, isn’t really an eat-by-yourself meal, so I knew I definitely had to return with a homie in tow. So I done did dat! After many poor weather days, Chrissy and I finally got ourselves out there together, along with two others, Sarah and Chrissy’s friend Sammy.
We took the comfy high-speed ITX train from Yongsan Station all the way out to Chuncheon, which takes about 1.5 hours. Chrissy, the ultimate snack queen, brought some long breaded sausage for everyone’s train noshing enjoyment.
When we got there, we didn’t actually do much, but it felt sooooo nice to be out of the city and breathe the fresh air! There is green everywhere, and I even felt like I completely left Korea. We ended up grabbing a cab out to Soyang Dam, where we then hitched a ride on a ferry out to a secluded area which houses Cheongpyeongsa Temple, which we didn’t even make it to! During the 10 minute ferry ride I felt like I was transported back to Southeast Asia. It was absolutely stunning. Korea is seriously gorgeous once you really get into it.
From the dock, it’s about a 20 minute walk to the hill up to the temple. We staked out a lovely riverside lunch at one of the little restaurants leading to the temple and stuffed our faces with dakgalbi, makguksu, and dong dong ju (a fermented rice wine much like makkoli, my Korean beverage of choice). The ajussi who worked there also took quite the liking to me, and grabbed my cup at one point to give himself one of several “service shots” of our dong dong ju. Hmmm suspicious old man! “I serve, you thank!” He also had a snappy way of clapping at us to get our attention from the restaurant above. We thought it was so funny, but when we did it back to him he turned a not-so-happy eye on us. Methinks we disrespected our elder in our fun and games.
Either way, the food, booze, and locale were sensational.
What a nice mommy and daddy cooking my food for me.
Korean pancakes are little bits of heaven, and that kimchi burrito thing was tasty too.
When we were alerted to the last boat’s departure by our clappy friend, after having not even gone to the temple, we raced across this bridge back to the dock, but not without a quickie photo shoot, of course. This is me and Chrissy after all.
Then we hauled our overflowing bladders and made the final boat, thank the heavens above!
I wish we got to see the temple, but alas, most temples in Korea all look the same, so I’m not too torn up about it. Chuncheon is beautiful and twas invigorating to breathe some clear fresh green air in good company!
Directions to Nami Island: Take the high speed ITX train either from Yongsan or Sangbong Station to Gapyeong Station. I had gotten a bit turned around when I went, but you should hail a taxi from Gapyeong Station to Namiseom Dock. Then from the dock you’ll hop a 5 minute ferry to Nami.
Directions to Chuncheon & Soyang Dam / Cheongpyeongsa Temple: Follow the same ITX directions as above, only take the train all the way to the Chuncheon exit. When you arrive you can either hop the bus across the street from the station (I forget the number, but the Tourist Center could let you know that), or take a cab, which is what we did. It ended up being around a 12,000won cab ride. Once you arrive at the dock just purchase a ticket for the ferry and hop it!