Day 5 Part 2: Metasequoia Road and Yonghwasa

In my grand plan for the day, I had only wanted to take a walk at the Metasequoia Road nearby before heading out of Damyang to maybe another town for a walk or something, but I got lost while searching for the tree lined road. And I’m glad I did. It was then that I got to experience the most serene walk I ever got to in South Korea.

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Stepping out of the Bamboo forest, I headed left to search for the Metasequoia Road as depicted on the map I had on hand. The things that first came into sight was this stone steps across the river, followed by some street stalls. Without knowing that the walk would end up being such a long one, I strolled on, passing by bridges, and other buildings I have no idea what they were. School or hospital perhaps, but they were quite out of town.

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A sleeping fisherman.

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No idea what that is. A cemetry?

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The fisherman woke up! oh, and I love the view of those mountains and clouds in the background.

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Schools? Hospitals???

These were probably the last of the buildings I saw for awhile, until I reach this farm.

Dog guarding the farm's entrance.

Dog guarding the farm’s entrance.

Dog guarding the farm's entrance.

Dog guarding the farm’s entrance.

Cow and Cat.

Cows and Cat.

Right after the farm, a little flyover appeared and I crossed it to the other side of the little river, where I found myself in the middle of the Metasequoia Road. Peculiarly though, the ticketing office was there, at the middle. Initially I didn’t know we had to get a ticket, until the guy inside it pushed open the window and called out to me.

On one side,

On one side,

and on the other.

and on the other.

After snapping some photos and taking some walk around, I left the place walking toward Damyang town as depicted on the map. The tree-lined road started to die down into a small road, which stretches out quite long before I reach the Yonghwasa temple, with the only sights to be some small vegetable farms.

How farms look like during winter.

How farms look like during winter.

Little village(?) nearby Damyang.

Little village(?) nearby Damyang, with the sign that directs people to the temple.

Finally, the sign to the temple. So how does the temple look like within?

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Sign right outside the temple.

A very big statue/monument that seems to overlook the town and the bamboo forest.

A very big statue/monument that seems to overlook the town and the bamboo forest.

Colorful structures within the temple

Colorful structures within the temple

Colorful structures within the temple

Colorful structures within the temple

Today was a day I kept getting lost. A day where I got lost while finding the tree-lined road, and got lost again after that before finding yonghwasa (the temple), and then again later looking for a way back to the bus terminal.
An ahjumma approached me and asked if I was a student on a project. I explained that I was a student, but from Singapore and not on any project. I took the chance to ask her about how I could get to Damyang bus terminal, and when she replied to my query, she grabbed my hands and explained to me how to get to the bus terminal. Such act of warmth. Probably something I’ll not forget anytime soon.

Later on, on the way toward the bus terminal, which had started to seem quite far after a 15minutes walk, I chanced upon a bus stop that had the bus which I needed to get to Damyang terminal. So I waited there for The Bus to get me back to Gwangju and the Namdo Hostel where I was staying at.

Day 5 Part 1: Damyang Bamboo Forest

Leaving Gwangju

The view in Gwangju itself was already spectacular, with the really long straight roads through the city.

Long road that stretches out.

Long road that stretches out.

Just a quiet roadside in the morning.

Just a quiet roadside in the morning.

I’m already missing this kind of scenery. Its fine though, I will be back in Korea for a semester exchange in Pohang in a few months time. I wonder if Pohang looks somewhat like this. According to one of Mr Park’s recommendation and a little guide pasted on his walls, I decided to head to Damyang. Continue reading

Day 4: On the Road to Gwangju City

Gwangju Uprising, and Gwangju being at or near the location of Baekje have led me to want to visit the city at least once. The surrounding towns are also beautiful and less crowded places to visit, which I had to Damyang and Suncheon, and I’m glad I did!

First of all, even the KTX trip down to Gwangju was an eye-opener for a small-city dweller like me, who has never taken a train cross country. I think a ride across the country is always a better experience, no matter which mode of transport (maybe except flying), so that we can view the landscape of the rural countryside.

Cheonan

Cheonan

Farm(?) at Cheonan

Farm(?) at Cheonan

As the KTX train approached the southern area, the scenery took a turn. the southern areas aren’t as cold as the nothern areas, so there weren’t much snow. Continue reading

Korea Day 3 Part 2: Kyobo Bookstore and Gwanghwamun

After the little stroll around and near Ehwa Women’s University, I took the metro to gyungbukgong station, hoping to visit the palace and maybe the bukchon alley that is one of the most famous tourist spots around that area.

As I walked out of the exit, I saw an entrance to a bookstore. Being someone who has a penchant for books, even without knowing which bookstore it was since it was an impromptu itinerary for that day, I went ahead and walked into it. As I approached the entrance, the place started to look strangely familiar. And as I stepped inside, I instantly recognised the place! It is the bookstore that appeared many times in several variety shows! I most remember it from The Human Condition, the episodes on reading books. Being able to read some Korean, it took me no time to become so immersed in the books until an hour and half has passed.

These are the books I bought: (from the right)

1. 멈추면, 비로소 보이는 것들 ( Things that you finally see when you stop)

2. 1cm+

3. 오늘, 또 사랑을 미뤘다 (Today, Love was Postponed Again)

4. 인생의 수업 (Life’s Lesson)

5. 엄마를 부탁해 ( Please Take Care of Mom) [This one was bought a long time ago through an online shop.]

2014-05-05 16.01.23As of now, I have only read about two thirds of the first book on the list. oops. Shall start reading them again maybe during my Korea exchange trip in Pohang University.

20131221-DSC_0169Up the stairs of one of the exits (the one with the stairs right outside the glass door) was this set of stones with a quote carved onto them, saying:

사람은 책을 만들고

Saram-eun chaeg-eul mandeul-go

Men make (write) books and

책은 사람을 만든다

chaeg-eun saram-eul mandeunda

Books make a man.

I have seen this quote from some Koreans’ instagram before, but seeing it firsthand was a different feel. More beautiful. More magnificent. More resonant.

A short walk away was gwanghwamun square, which on the day I was there, had a small scale exhibition on the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. All the flags of the countries which took part in the war were there standing proud in the wind. 20131221-DSC_0182I always have a soft spot for such topics on War and such, and so while reading one of the passages on one of those boards about soldiers from the different countries coming together to defend the South, I got so touched I think I teared a little. Maybe not. Can’t remember 😛

Continue reading

Day 3 Morning: Ewha Women’s University

3rd day in Seoul, I had planned to visit one of the mountains, maybe Bukhansan, that day, but made a last minute change of mind. Reason was the slippery roadw covered with snow, and the under equipped me to hike up the mountains. Almost slipped and fell so many times during the Suwon Fortress walk.

So I headed out to one of the more popular Universities in Seoul, the Ewha Women’s University! I’ve heard a lot about the school, about how pretty it is and its students are. (:D)

20131221-DSC_0160The wall art right at the entrance of the school. So colourful~

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The view of the school once you step through the entrance. Not much of a crowd, since it was during the winter break.

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If my college ever had such beautiful gardens, my motivation to go to school might be prolonged.. for a few weeks maybe 😛   Continue reading

Transport Tips

In South Korea, especially in Seoul, the public transport system, metro and bus, is so well connected you can really travel to anywhere quite easily. So, being in Seoul, you’re likely to be using the public transport a real lot, I’ll try to give everyone some tips about using the public transport there.

Practical

T-money:

  • I highly recommend to get the T-money card if staying in Seoul for a few days or more and will be travelling a lot. It gives a 100 won discount in all your travels, be it by bus or the metro, and it is cheap to buy, about 2500 won, and easy to charge (top up).
  • There is an option for English on all the machines to buy the card.
  • If you decide to top up your card in convenience stores, say “charge” instead of “top up”. I learnt that after trying to say “top up” because I didn’t know the Korean equivalent of top up.
  • You can pay for buses using notes if your T-money runs out of credits! Not too sure about 10k won notes, but 1k won notes are fine. Lastly, if you’re going to be travelling outside of Seoul, remember to check if the city uses T-money card or other cards. Some cities, like Gwangju, do not use T-money. Or like in Daegu, you can use the T-money, but there is no way to top it up there.
  • Finally, you can pay vending machines via T-money.

Metro:

While on the metro, make sure to know Continue reading