Monthly Archives: November 2017

Gohan to Gangwon – South Korea

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Heading off to High 1 Resort at Gohan and it’s about a four-hour’s drive from Seoul to relax and unwind in the countryside for a change. With the highest altitude of 1,345 metres, it’s amongst Korea’s best ski resorts and features clean, puffy snow which is a drawcard for professional skiers from around the world.


Catching a bus is easy enough in Korea and if you’re worried about how to purchase tickets, all bus stations sell on the day of travel and cannot be bought necessarily online. Schedules are frequent between cities and hospitality staff in hotels are eager to assist with information, prices and will advise you to arrive at the terminal with plenty of time to spare.

Transport was fast, efficient and reliable on the journeys I’d taken around the countryside and it included buses and trains as distances were doable on the same day.


Lovely scenery all along the way and heading towards what is known as ski country on the eastern side of Korea, it’s definitely a mecca for all winter sporting experts. Though on this occasion I’m a little early for any snow falls. I don’t mind. Why? Because I can’t ski.


High 1 Resort is a five-star resort and is a destination in itself. Even if you’re not there for the ski season, it’s a retreat for those wishing to have a short break in the superb mountainous region of eastern Korea. Clear, fresh air and an easy bus ride from Seoul makes this area a favourite for holiday makers; both local and from abroad.


Wooden structures are a favourite here amongst children and it highlights the gardens with their portrayal of makeshift animals while recycling old timber branches.


The resort also has a massive garden expanse within its grounds allowing guests the freedom to meander quietly and enjoy the surrounds. See, you don’t have to ski, just walk slowly and smell the dainty flowers instead. Much more sensible for someone like me who cannot stand on two skis if their life depended on it!


No doubt 2018 will be a big year in this region with the Winter Olympics approaching fast. Home to mountains, great skiing and winter sports it should be a huge welcome sign rather than ‘see you again’.


After a few hours on the bus, I’ve discovered Gangwon, but with a fog in tow. Asked why visit this city, I said “why not”? The Gangwon province will be home to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeong Chang and I think it’ll be interesting to see its transformation from being one of the quieter regions of this busy and modern country, and then contrasting to the hustle and bustle of its popular counterparts.


As a traveller and a travel agent, new emerging destinations have always been of interest to me and a curiosity in how they promote their points of difference. However, it’s now on its way, in particular next year in wanting a slice of the tourism dollar and realising many promotional activities are necessary for that to occur. Putting its best foot forward is paramount; particularly when competing with big-brother cities such as Seoul, Suwon and Bussan.


Traditionally known as a city which caters well towards high-tech companies from overseas, Gangwon has realised it’s high time to pull out the beauty kit and showcase itself as a tourist destination rather than its abundance of technological components.


The city epitomises a bike-friendly place and in doing so, creates a means of transport which is faster and more efficient than most other cities around the world – and in that alone they would find enviable. Seven out of ten Koreans own a bicycle and with lycra-clad riders converging on the well-planned pathways each day, it can only be thought of as a sensible way to exercise, save on energy sources (except your own) and be a good-hearted greenie in the process.

In terms of speediness it would leave my own traffic-jammed home city of residence much to learn from.


Yongji Lake in the heart of Gangwon is a place to take yourself or the family to cool off and take a breather.  The crown jewel and feature is the the water show which happens twice a night for 30 minutes; March 15th through November 30th (except rainy days and the third Monday of each month).

Some people bring instruments, some people bring wine and everyone brings their voice but, mostly they enjoy the communal atmosphere.

Buses: 100, 111, 116, 507 go the closest to the lake.


Although Yongji is a very small manmade lake, its soft track and spacious fields behind, gives 1.5 million people a place to play or just hang out.


The lake is also quite close to the ‘Tree-lined Street’ and nearby there’s a myriad of restaurants, cafes and bars.


Large trees align the streets with bright fuchsia-coloured flowers making it come alive with a real pizazz.


Didn’t expect to see a red phone booth in Korea! But, that’s what it used to look like – long before smart phones. How did we ever cope before …


Outside of the Pullman Hotel and Convention Centre, youngsters love these big cats and as they act like a show pony for the little ones to climb all over …


And, whilst you’re at the Pullman Ambassador Hotel, treat yourself to a couple of these – why might you ask?


Because Korea makes a traditional black raspberry wine and it is divine! As you can expect it’s a little sweeter than most long-established vinos, but you really have to try it to appreciate just how unique it really is, and not to mention how tempting it can be to have another glass …


Next stop Bussan.

Seoul – South Korea


If you just happen to be around in South Korea when it’s their national Foundation Day in October and Chuseok Holidays being listed on the calendar, then you’ll be lucky enough to see many of the Korean people adorned in traditional attire over the holiday period. And, they’re very happy to snap photos of each other too!


Having returned to Seoul after a couple of previous visits over the years, on this occasion I’ll be traversing a little further around the country. But for now, a view of the Changdeok Palace which is set within a large park in Jongno-gu, Seoul and is a must see as it’s one of the ‘Five Grand Palaces’ built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897). There’s so much to see within this complex built on a 58-hectare site, so make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes.


Beautifully, the buildings of Changdeokgung blend with the natural topography of the site instead of imposing themselves upon it. All this within the city’s boundaries and it’s easy access to transport and the Anguk subway station is within a couple of minutes walking.


My very willing model for this photo and dressed in her lovely traditional gown showing off a by-gone era.


Ahh of course, did I tell you I’d taken a liking to photographing doors? Yes of course I did! Non of which were going to escape from me on this trip either.


Not too far away is Jongno Tower which is a 33-story office building with its top floor being equipped with a restaurant/bar and famous for its views of Seoul – especially at night.


N. Seoul Tower in the distance built in 1971, it’s South Korea’s first general radio wave tower providing TV and radio broadcasting for the city and surrounds.


Some very interesting architecture within Seoul; most notably swerves, waviness and this one doing the splits … All within an easy walk around the city centre, and if you’re a photographer who likes impressive structures, then Seoul is for you.


Smoking kept within decent shelters seems like a reasonable and fair deal for all.


Sewing machines on display while window shopping along the streets. From my observation, clothing made in South Korea appears to be of a higher quality than from many other Asian countries; with fine materials and stronger threads being used and therefore lasting longer. Everything a sewer could ever possibly need can be found at the ever-popular Dongdaemun Fabric Market.


Shopping, shopping and more shopping. There is no shortage of markets and other precincts for some true retail therapy.

Myeong-dong is Seoul’s prime shopping and entertainment area in downtown which contains some of the city’s top stores and fashion boutiques. Itaewon is another notable shopping area lined with boutiques and stores especially targeted at the large foreign population in Seoul. However, my favourite is Insadong whereby at one time it was the largest market for antiques and artworks in Korea. The Gangnam areas often attract a more well-to-do population of wealthy young Koreans who shop at one of many luxury boutiques and department stores, as well as dining at some of the finest cafes and restaurants in the city.


You don’t have to go too far to find any kind of market, maybe just around the corner of your hotel stay.


Chestnuts are offered by street sellers and are looking very much like they’re calling my name.
While American chestnuts range in size, Korean or Asian chestnuts are slightly bigger and may not be as sweet. Instead they have a neutral, smoky flavour that makes them versatile in many other dishes.


Coffee shops abound everywhere in South Korea! Lucky me. This is one country which appreciates the good bean for its customers to enjoy, more so than any other Asian country I can think of. This little place has survived in a fast-growing metropolis and I think it deserves my patronage.


On the walk home, a stop at Tapgol Park Insadong which is historically important as the site of the origin of the March 1st Movement 1919, an important part of South Korea’s independence as the first location for the reading of the Proclamation of Independence.

Although at the time of writing this post, tensions were at a high level with North Korea’s missile testings. However, I found there wasn’t any shortage of visitors upon arrival with queues of tourists waiting to clear immigration. Obviously people weren’t prepared to ‘wait and see’ and were still willing to flock and visit this wonderful country which is filled with warm-hearted and welcoming South Koreans.