주왕산국립공원 JUWANGSAN NATIONAL PARK (Part 2)

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It was such a nice walk in the National Park ! Even though I did envision to do more, to somehow get to the peak, it was so relaxing, refreshing and close to nature that we really enjoyed it. Walking, talking, taking photos, taking a break. The cool summer breeze – that we later know we weren’t getting any in the heat of Seoul ! If we didn’t do the coastal walk in Yeongdeok, this would probably be one of the best ^^, now just second to Yeongdeok coastal walk. Oh, and I did spend time researching the routes to take in Juwangsan National Park – but we did end up here re-deciding, based on how much time/ energy we have keke

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We bought loads of stuff from the supermarket in Seoul before coming over, and in my pages and pages of notes, I did plan to bring more snacks along. Haha, but this was still enough, and super yummy! We cooked the vermicelli at our pension that morning and packed with us, probably imagining that we would do a much longer walk hah!

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And since Cheongsong is known for its crispness and juiciness apples, they too are famous for their apple infused makgeolli. A pity it wasn’t the apple season, so we didn’t get to find any, but the makgeolli is really yummy! Full of bubbles too, if you are ever going to pack it and drink later. That’s what happened to us – explosive fountain of makgeolli (even though we have been warned).

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Again, we certainly over-ordered/ over-ate, at this lunch place along the road towards the entrance of Juwangsan National Park, recommended by the pension owner. We ordered mushroom stew (they kindly allowed for 1 portion), Kalguksu noodles, seafood pajeon (they gave us another pajeon, as service) and makgeolli. Man, extremely full!

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Apple tree along the straight road from Juwangsan National Park to our pension. Took us probably under 30 minutes to walk back.

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That’s our pension, 펜션달빛추억 Moonlight Memory (their website here). But since we booked our room only that morning, they might not have rooms at their new Annex (which is so pretty, if you saw the photos on their website). We stayed in the older Annex, about 10 minutes from the new Annex, that also has a cafe. The owner kindly bought us some drinks when we came back from the hike (rained the moment we reached our pension!). Note: The owner did say that he is probably one of the few locals whom speak English, so you cannot speak much Korean, good to stay here 🙂

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I think that’s our breakfast the morning that we checked out haha.

Read more about Cheongsong here

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주왕산국립공원 Juwangsan National Park

Yeongdeok is a place that I want to visit from years ago, and I still want to visit again (read about Yeongdeok here). But I did also want to visit a National Park, especially since it’s the summer.

I saw a photo of Sobaeksan National Park, the ridge right at the top after a 21km+++ walk, and decided one day we shall be there. In the end we went to Juwangsan National Park. Both parks are considered since they are “near” to Yeongdeok; “near” meaning about 3 change of buses that would take ~3, 4 hours. The logistics from either National Park to Yeongdeok was crazy. It literally drove me nuts trying to get information from one “village bus stop” to another. Eventually we did it, from Juwangsan National Park to Yeongdeok, and it couldn’t have been done without the friendly bus stop auntie/ uncle bus driver/ random passengers whom are so ever helpful. I don’t think I remember the route if I have to do it again 🙂

Anyway, the long story cut short – after I had back pain about 3 weeks before our trip, I didn’t have confidence I could do the walk up to the ridge. And if that’s the case, maybe this is not the best time to be at Sobaeksan. Juwangsan has shorter, flat routes so we cancelled our reservation for Sobaeksan, and decided to wait till the trip itself to see if I am well enough for Juwangsan. On the day of arriving in Seoul, we thought if we can get a room in Juwangsan, we would go (since it’s the weekends and rooms might be fully booked in the summer). The helpful owner of Seoul Sieoso Hotel helped us call the pension that we found, but they don’t have a room for Saturday. In the end, he even searched for another pension and gave them a ring. They have a room and so we decided on the spot to make a reservation and head down.

But before that, we had gamjatang, probably one of our many favourite korean meal. A quick stop at the supermarket to grab food for hiking too.

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동원집 Dongwon jip for pork bone stew; thanks to happydalki’s recommendation. It’s near to our Seoul Sieoso Hotel where we left our luggage there; and it opens as early as 9am. We needed an early lunch before heading to the supermarket. I did mention we visited the supermarkets about 11 (or 12? was it 13?) times in the entire 20 days 😉

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Yakult is nice, whether as a drink or sweet or coating for nuts. It’s surprising that just after 2 meal of army stew instant mee, we thought we have enough of instant mee for the trip hah. But it must have been an achievement to enjoy the soju – grapefruit or ginger flavour is nice; the outdoor soju pack is great too though I wish they have all the soju flavour in outdoor pack. Should have gotten that chips back too. And all those perilla leaves.

 

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Dong Seoul Bus Terminal to 주왕산정류장 Juwangsan Bus Terminal; 4.5 hours. We slept really well throughout! But Dong Seoul Bus Terminal was crazily hot in the summer.

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The pension owner asked that we text him upon arrival; so we were waiting at the bus terminal for him to pick us up. It’s walkable to his pension, as we discovered on our second day. A straight walk, for about 20 minutes?

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Our room for the first 2 nights. Interestingly, the owner (whom had been working in Seoul until a few years back) told us that he is the probably guy in Juwangsan whom speaks English! That’s so lucky for us. Anyway this room is in the older pension; he has a newly built pension and cafe 10 minutes car ride away.

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After our early meal of gamjatang, we had kimbap at the bus terminal. And we cooked this for dinner!

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Snacks, and the best soju – grapefruit.

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Breakfast the following morning; noodles meant to pack for hiking.

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to be continued…

더 스트림,펜션 The Stream Pension

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The Stream Pension is easily one of my favourite place to stay in, Korea and anywhere else.
We planned to visit the Yeongdeok Blue Road and picked the Light & Wind Promenade, a 17.5 km walk that starts from the fishing port of Ganggu to the Changpomal Lighthouse in the Sunrise Park (read here).
Hence we needed accommodation nearby. We found The Stream Pension by chance, on Google map (we found a few others and nothing as nice!), though later learnt that they are also on Airbnb. We contacted Jy, the host and made the booking via Instagram.
Since I reserved with them quite ahead in time (9 months ahead of staying there?), I found myself going back to their website to look at the pretty pictures of the pension, and looking forward to it.
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We arrived at Yeongdeok from Juwangsan National Park; in any case Yeongdeok is a 4.5 hours comfortable bus right from Seoul (we slept so well on these bus rides, sometimes better than in some hotels haha), which stops for a brief 10 minutes toilet/ food break. On this trip, I found all the washrooms at these stops really clean and modern too ^^
Then we had the yummiest crab meal for lunch, bought more food for our breakfasts and hikes from the Really Discount Mart (All in all, we had army stew instant mee, rice with mushroom seafood soup, rice with fishcake soup, and packed perilla leaves sandwiches for our 4.5 hours bus ride back to Seoul). And then JY’s husband came to pick us up from the mart, which we really appreciated that!
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The drive along the coast and restaurants made me look forward to what I will be arriving at. We arrived at The Stream Pension that looks like the photos on their website. So welcoming, relaxing, bright and chirpy, modern and new.
We were supposed to spend a night with them and sleep at the Sunrise Park Camping Ground for the second night, and get back to Seoul the following day. In the end, because we simply love this place, we stayed with them an additional night, after the second night in the caravan at the Sunrise Park Camping Ground.
Anyway, we quickly dropped our bags upon arrival and couldn’t wait to go out for a walk along the coast/ seashore! So, it’s really just a long walk along the breeze and waves… so calming and charming. We found a bench in front of the coast and sat there, jus… enjoying the view.
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Our room is on Level 2 (#205). I purposely picked it as it is the corner room and have side windows as well as a huge balcony door – for the maximum sea view. From the balcony, you have an unblocked view of the sea! The few days that we were there didn’t see super sunlight like what you expected in the summer (as you can see from the photos), but it means the walks we took were so enjoyable and cooling, rather than too warm and humid. It’s amazing to be so close to the sea, to be listening to the waves. And waking up to the waves and the seaview again..
The room is bright and chirpy, so welcoming the moment you step foot in it. It has a double sized bed, air conditioning, small refrigerator, Tv, hairdryer, mirror, kettle and an electronic insect repellent in the room. There is an attached toilet/ bathroom to our room where towels, shampoo, conditional, shower and even facial foam are provided. The room is also of a good size and very reasonably priced.
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The pension is well designed and you can see the hard work and efforts that Jy and her husband put in over 1 year to remodel the place. It has a marina theme throughout the pension, very suiting for a pension by the sea.
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They have rooms suitable for different number of people / family size. There are the rooms for 2, rooms for families, independent houses (besides the main building) good for big groups and even 2 caravans. All are well designed – marina theme, modern, new, well maintained and clean. A great place to relax and spend a few days by the sea. There is a shared kitchen on level 2 – whereby it has all the amenities you are looking for in whipping up a meal (pots and pans, microwave, toaster, rice cooker, cups and wine glass, wine opener) and condiments (oil, wasabi, sesame). We cooked a few meals there (before our hikes and sometimes dinner) and never need anything that we cannot find from the kitchen. On one day there was no booking for the caravan so we went in to take a look. It’s amazingly done up, very modern design and new!
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On the second day we went for our hike, since we saw the signals from our first day walk.. we just kept walking all the way ahead, for 3, 4 hours and came to the Sunrise Park. At the Sunrise Park, Jy’s husband’s mother came to pick us up (she also came with our bag of food and new set of clothing for change) and fetch us to the Sunrise Park Camping Ground. How nice of her, we are really appreciative, as it would be tough carrying all our bags with us. Moreover, we tried to walk from the Sunrise Park to the Sunrise Park Camping Ground, but that’s pretty hard without a car!
After our night stay at the Sunrise Park Camping Ground, we got a taxi to the supermarket, had lunch and Jy’s husband again came to fetch us back to the pension.
We spent the remaining time hanging around/ sitting around enjoying the seaview with our beer and nuts/ soju.
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Jy speaks English so that’s helpful to foreigners. She’s caring and helped make sure we get on a cab to catch the 7am bus ride back to Seoul. When we were there, there were other locals who stayed at the caravans, went for a swim/ dive, bbq and… Jy’s husband was setting up a mobile small swimming pool, possibly for the weekend crowd.
Definitely hope to go back to Yeongdeok again, and definitely going to stay with them ^^ absolutely love this place, and really like this decor stick outside their common toilet!
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영덕 블루로드 YEONGDEOK BLUE ROAD 2017 – the image

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See that yellow spot on the very nice photo (I didn’t take the photo, but it has been my wallpaper for quite some months)? That’s the Changpomal Lighthouse in the Sunrise Park. So apparently I was asking JY, our host at http://www.thestreampension.com to realise that we took the path that started outside of this photo (left of this photo!) all the way to the yellow spot/ lighthouse.

I don’t think this warrants a separate post on its own, but I am so happy to realise that the path I took was just this one in my wallpaper, and the very image I had of Yeongdeok right from the start ^^

[Photo taken from http://www.thestreampension.com%5D

영덕 블루로드 Yeongdeok Blue Road 2017

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In 2014, I read with interest an article about the Haeparang Trail, a 770 km walking route that stretches northward along the East Sea from Oryukdo Park in Busan to the Unification Observatory in Goseong, Gangwon-do. I became interested in the Blue Road footpath walk along the shoreline of Yeongdeok Country, Gyeongsangbuk-do, part of the 770 km Haeparang Trail.

Back then, I probably didn’t imagine that one day I would be walking down the trail myself.. 

영덕군 Yeongdeok is a small fishing town famous for snow crabs, but less accessible by public transport so far. I supposed that is why even though Yeongdeok’s Blue Road came in twelfth in KTO 2013 poll on top 100 tourist sites in South Korea, it might not be known to many.

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영덕 블루로드 Yeongdeok’s Blue Road. Like the famous Jeju Olle Trails, Yeongdeok Blue road, a 64 km hiking trail that runs from Daege Park (Snow Crab Park) in the south nearly to the country border with Uljin in the north, is about “healing”. It’s all about the hills and wind, rustic fishing villages, vast blue sea and beautiful seashore.

There are 4 different trails. We studied it carefully because we didn’t have enough days to do all the trails so we have to pick my most favourite one (actually, I don’t think I can complete the entire 4 trails in one go keke). In the end, we picked the Light & Wind Promenade, a 17.5km trail that takes about 6 hours to complete.

Mountain path dreaming of the sea; walking is to live at the nature speed 

About the Light & Wind Promenade Course. The Light & Wind Promenade starts from the fishing port of Ganggu to the Changpomal Lighthouse in the Sunrise Park, a Yeongdeok landmark: Ganggu Terminal – Ganggu Port – Geumjin Overbridge – Gobul Peak – Sunrise Campsite – Renewable Energy Exhibition Hall – Wind Farm – Sunrise Park

Blue Road - Light & Wind Promenade

I did think of following the entire trail strictly, but I didn’t have confidence to complete 17.5 km in a day, nor even complete 17.5 km of walking since my entire holiday was of 20 days (need to spread the walking to other days hah).

In the end, we probably did only half the trail due to various logistics arrangement (e.g. how are we going to complete the trail with food for a few meals). Hence instead of from Ganggu Port, our trail started at our accommodation, The Stream Pension to the Sunrise Park). Even so, the Yeongdeok Blue Road remains my most favourite part of the 20-days in Korea, and I am so happy and satisfied to have walk down the blue road.

Transport to Yeongdeok. Before Yeongdeok, we were in Juwangsan National Park, which was lovely (though nothing can beat Yeongdeok in my heart). Logistically, it was probably insane. Thanks to KTO for their patience and assistance, as well as the helpful locals/ bus terminal auntie and bus driver uncles who made sure we got on the right buses (I don’t think anyone else would ever need to travel from Juwangsan National Park to Yeongdeok, but still):

We left Juwangsan National Park (815am; thank you Auntie at Bus Terminal, who triple-confirmed with us that we were heading towards Yeongdeok and not Andong), changed a bus, arrived at Jinbo (920am till 1015am – and we “shopped” at another supermarket just opposite of the entrance of Jinbo Bus Terminal (I counted, we probably supermarket shopped 11 times in 20 days hah), and arrived at Yeongdeok Bus Terminal. Took a bus from Yeongdeok Bus Terminal to Ganggu Port (the bus stops near a convenience store, and the Ganggu Market. The Ganggu Market is opposite of the Ganggu Port).

Famous crab for lunch. After much deliberation, we shared a crab for lunch! Eventually we thought it was a right decision because having a crab each would probably be too much a portion for us (though we decided to share one because of price). Must be our most expensive, yet most delicious meal for 20 days. Extremely fresh and tasty crab, side dishes and lunch view. (I didn’t eat in the below restaurant, but it is one of the most fancy one we came upon)

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Our lovely host, JY’s husband, then picked us up at the Ganggu Port, or rather opposite of the Ganggu Pork at the Ganggu Market (entrance of Really Discount Mart), which we picked up more food.

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Accommodation in Yeongdeok – The Stream Pension. I found The Stream Pension (http://www.thestreampension.com & https://www.instagram.com/yd_airstreamer/), a lovely designed pension with seaview and equally lovely hosts JY (who speaks English!) and her husband. I will write about the pension and our stay in another post, but some photos below first. Aside from the lovely design, another reasons I picked The Stream Pension is due to its location, which marks somehow the halfway of the 17.5 km trail between Ganggu Port and Sunrise Park.

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Upon arriving at The Stream Pension, we took a stroll and chanced upon the road sign Sunrise Park is 3.9 km away, and so that’s the trail we followed the next day.

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Our trail started from The Stream Pension, past the National Youth Marine Environment Center of Korea 해양한경체험센터 (which, in my opinion, has one of the loveliest spot for sea-viewing. It has a mobile washroom next to it too, which is important for hikers!), and arrived at the Sunrise Park. We covered some of the Wind Farm, and stayed overnight at the Sunrise Campsite too (will cover that in another post as well).

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Aside from the most lovely coastal scenic view, light sunlight and breeze, another highlight of our hike (ok, more of leisure walk since we probably took 4 hours to complete that small stretch) was being invited to a picnic. We left the Stream Pension pretty late (past 1130am probably), after having a light lunch that we cooked up in the common kitchen in the Stream Pension. Not too long, we decided to take a break at one of the shelters with a great seaview. A group of koreans were having their picnic there, so we didn’t want to disturb. We sat by the edge, catching our breath, and drinking water. One of the ahjumma then offered us a huge tomato (to quest our thirst!) but we were shy to finish it off. So we cut it up to share with them (haha) but they then decided to share with us their lunch of Hoedeopbab/ raw fish with rice and vegetables (really yummy that I wished I wasnt shy and took up their offer for another bowl of it). We chit-chat with whatever-Korean-we-managed, shared the lovely view, took photos and..

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I always love the mountains more than the sea. Germany’s Garmisch Partenkirchen is the image of my favourite mountain town, so much so that I was afraid to revisit the place, for fear that the perfect vision of GAP is no longer in existence.

But now, I have to say that the Blue Road is the image in my heart, in my memory, and I hope to be back some day. One day.

I still cannot imagine, that I’ve walked down the Yeongdeok Blue Road..

“Yeongdeok Blueroad, a road that embraces everything about Yeongdeok. I walked the road of my soul. A mountain path to dream of the ocean, a path of light and wind. Blueroad number 1.”

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[Various information courtesy of KTO, Korea.net and Blueroad website; photos are mine]

Barcelona 2016

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Barcelona was the first European city I visited years ago, and possibly that’s why it was my favourite European city back then, and remained special to me. I didn’t particularly enjoy flying within Europe, for I would have preferred train rides anytime. But we had to fly to Barcelona, and it was fun. It was sunny, vibrant like I remembered, colourful and relatively easier to walk about compared to Florence (the forever-maze to me). The supermarketing had to be really fun too, almost like what I remembered.

Given that I’ve already been there twice and I didn’t enjoy the flying, I wonder if I ever would be back again.

This time, I didn’t have to get any (lousy) chinese food there (for I know I would have Bun Rieu in days to come, and that’s more than enough).

Florence 2016 (2)

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Italy was at the peak of Summer when we were there, even if it could still be chilly in Paris, wet and cold in London, but it was super duper sunny in Italy. Anyway the most traditional family restaurants were all closed for their summer breaks except 1, which we went by twice. It was definitely disappointed, considering that I planned almost the entire of Florence around food. Then again, we still tried to make the best out of it. At least we did manage as much meals at our favourite restaurant in Paris (another post someday).

Chianti, Tuscany 2016 (2)

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It was a public holiday, or rather Italy most important public holiday. Hence it was an understatement to say that trying to arrange for anything on that day (even before and after) was a logistic nightmare, not forgetting the fact that we were car-less, and taxi would have cost a bomb.

We did eventually gone on a vineyard tour, with lunch. Though it was probably way too much of a summer to be in the vineyard, so it was more of a cellars tour. The fact that we were the only 4 people in the tour meant that the staff couldn’t wait to finish the tour, but we still enjoyed our short few hours there. The food’s very great, but if I didn’t have to think of getting back to Florence later the day, I would have drank everything that’s being served.

And, I think I really like Italy, even if all that I’ve seen were some Florence and Tuscany. Maybe it calls for a non-summer Italy holiday, someday, one day.

Chianti, Tuscany 2016 (1)

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Without a car, while in Florence, we still made it to Chianti.

The picture perfect Tuscany – the vibrant blue sky with white fluffy clouds, the green vineyard just outside of the window, the hanging grapes and growing tomatoes that’s about to ripe, the Tuscan cypress trees, and the lack of bustle of a city.

I just wished I would have drank more wine…