Hayley and Ben's adventures!
26th May 2012 - A South Korean Summer...
The West Country of Korea!
For Buddha’s birthday celebration we had the Monday off school as a National holiday so we decided to head west for the long weekend. So on Saturday morning we went to the Jeollanam-do province in the south west of the country; we haven’t been here before and it is supposed to be the least developed province in Korea; mainly rural villages and towns with a few mountain ranges and national parks so we thought it would be nice to get out away from the crowded city! It’s starting to get really hot now, summer has arrived and it has been about 28degrees all week! Lovely but also quite humid which is a struggle at work!
First stop was Damyang; 4 hours away on a bus. Buses in Korea are awesome and probably the most luxurious buses we have ever seen; big reclining seats, aircon, and of course narrow strips of neon lights on the ceiling for the evenings!
Damyang is famous for its wild bamboo forest and strawberries (very random)! We took a taxi to the start of the bamboo park, queue jumped to the front and went in pretty quick! It was refreshingly cool walking through the bamboo forest; the plants reached about 10metres tall so the walkways were shady. Typically Korean there were some tacky models of panda bears placed around the forest and a random drumming concert going in a clearing of the forest! We got some strawberry smoothies from an old granny and briefly went round the bamboo product stalls. It seems there isn’t much you can’t make from bamboo! Along the side of the roads were old ladies peeling back the bamboo shoots and selling them to eat; I’d never seen bamboo shoots this fresh before they were huge; not like the tiny ones in a tin from Asda that we used to put in our stir-fries!!
After cooling off in the forest we walked back to the bus station and decided on going to Gwangju for the rest of the afternoon and the night. Gwangju is the largest city in the south west and the sixth largest in Korea. We were told it is a city renowned for its political uprisings and demonstrations; it was here that one of the first major resistances against the Japanese rule during the colonial period (1929). There was another massive protest here in 1980; civil demonstrations against the military government that resulted in hundreds of civilians being killed by the Korean Military – Gwangju is called the ‘shrine of Korean democracy’ because of this movement and is nowadays quite a modern and young, fashionable city. We found a love motel close to the bus station and spent the evening shopping in the huge mall next door!
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