Monday, September 13, 2010

Chungju Lake, Gosu Cave & Dodamsanbong

Last Sunday, just a few days after I posted about how I was disappointed that I hadn't traveled more within Korea, I went on a trip! (I also had dinner with a fellow teacher in Seongnam last week, so clearly the way to fix personal shortcomings is to whinge about them on the internet. Please take note, other personal faults include impulse buying and biting my fingernails.) The trip was arranged by Adventure Korea, a tour group catering to expat teachers, and while I'm normally not a fan of tours (ugg, being told where to go and what to do, and also other people), this was less of a tour and more letting someone else arrange transportation and tickets. No colored flags or matching T-shirts to designate our group, just a private bus and two guys pointing us in the right direction. Hopefully all Adventure Korea's tours will be the same way, since I'm going on another one next week.

Chungju Lake

We went to the Danyang region in Chungcheongbuk-do, the only landlocked province in Korea, a few hours from Seoul. Our first stop was an hour and a half "pleasure ferry" on Lake Chungju, a man-made lake created by damming the Namhangang River. Siobhain and I made lots of comments about how we were "sailing on a boat and we're going fast" and how we were "gonna fly this boat to the moon somehow," especially once we discovered there was a karaoke room on the first floor of the ferry. Then "My Heart Will Go On" started playing over the loudspeakers and every single girl in her twenties made a crack how "I'm flying, Jack!" James Cameron, you have indoctrinated us well. There wasn't a lot to do on the boat except look at the scenery, but that was enough. The lake is beautiful, with lots of trees, hills and craggy rock formations, and very few signs of modern civilization, a rarity in Korea. It's good to be reminded that not all of the country is a concrete jungle.

The second stop was Gosu Cave. It's one of the better known caves in Korea and has some very impressive rock formations. Also impressive were the women in fancy dresses and high heels making their way through the cave. Only in Korea. It was 15° cooler inside the cave than it was outside, which felt wonderful. I got sunburned on the ferry (the breeze made it feel deceptively cool and I was a nice rosy red afterwards) and the cooler temperature felt nice.

Gosu Cave

The last stop was Dodamsanbong Peak, which reminded me why I don't like traveling on tours. It's three rocks in a river. They look like an 'S' from above, be we were viewing them from ground level. There's a pavilion on one of the rocks. It's nice enough looking. It would be a lot more scenic if there wasn't a high-rise apartment complex and a highway under construction in the background. I was ready to leave after five minutes: we stayed for an hour. A few people went hiking along the river, but most of the group ended up eating cheap ice cream in the parking lot. There was terrible traffic and typhoon related rain on the long bus ride back to Seoul, and it's a week later and I'm still a bit pink, but I'm really glad I got out of Seoul for the day and had a chance to see a little bit more of Korea.

As per usual, the rest of the photos are on Flickr.

Chungju Lake

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