*Your originally scheduled programming has been temporarily interrupted* The “What to eat in Korea” series will be back! Let’s take a break and talk about travel in Korea.
It’s cherry blossom season in Korea!! The weather is getting nicer and I didn’t wear a coat to work today 🙂 Warm weather and sunny skies greatly affect my mood – I just want to get out and do something all the time now! So, some friends and I decided to go on an organized tour outside of Seoul last weekend. I’m not usually a huge fan of group tours, but I’ve been so busy that it was nice having someone else take care of the logistics and transportation. Our trip was through Goh Travel Korea and it was well-organized. Even with chilly, cloudy weather and struggling to find trees that were in full bloom on our first day, our trip leader made the best of it.
Day 1: Suncheon/순천 – Seomjin Riverside Cherry Blossoms Walk
After traveling from Seoul by bus through the night, arriving to chilly, cloudy, and depressing weather at 6:30 in the morning was not ideal. We were dropped off at a nice river park that at this time last year was covered in cherry blossoms. To our dismay, we only found a handful of trees on the trail that had actually blossomed. We were all tired but managed to get a couple of shots before hopping back on the train and heading to our next destination.
I’m not sure how far the temple was from our previous destination, but I definitely napped the entire ride there. By the time we got to the temple, the sun had come out and brightened the tour’s spirits a bit. I did get yelled at by a monk, however, when I accidentally went on a platform with some shoes on. I still feel really guilty about that
Y’know, there are a lot of temples in Korea, and I have kind of developed the sentiment that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But this one was particularly beautiful, and definitely stood out from the ones in Seoul.
Suncheon Bay Wetlands (순천만) and Suncheon Flower Garden
Okay, so Suncheon Bay Wetlands are talked up quite a bit. Maybe it was just the time of year or because the weather got cloudy again, but I was a little underwhelmed. It looked a lot like the picture above, but that was it. All around you. Peaceful, yes, but nothing I would go out of my way to see, I guess. However, there was a museum on the premises with a super cute ajusshi (middle aged man/uncle) that was super excited to show off his English skills. He explained the history and importance of the wetlands, which helped put things into perspective a bit more.
The flower garden is actually quite gorgeous when all of the flowers are in bloom. I know this because I went there 4 years ago during my Sogang University exchange year. There are various gardens, all representing a different country, done in the style of that country. It’s quite well done when you can actually see flowers, but this time around, maybe only 1 out of 20+ gardens was in bloom. A bit of a bummer, but definitely worth going to in May and not early April.
Day 2: Private Green Tea Planation and Chocolate Making
I loved this part of the tour. The weather on day 2 was muuuuch better and with happy weather comes happy Christina. We were hosted by a family who has been running a green tea plantation for 6 generations. We learned how to participate in a traditional Korean tea ceremony (which I didn’t mess up like last time) and tried different kinds of the family’s homegrown tea!
We also got to make our own dark chocolate. The lovely lady taught us about the chocolate making process and history of chocolate. We got to bring home quite a bit and even topped some off with dried green tea leaves.
Boseong Green Tea Plantation/보성 녹차팥
My favorite part of the trip! I had never seen such vast green tea fields and my eyes were very happy. My friends and I also hiked to the top of the mountain (about 30 minutes, one way) and got gorgeous views of green tea fields, mountains, and even the ocean in the distance.
Around the plantation were plenty of places to get different teas and a variety of green tea snacks. I went for green tea ice cream, which is already one of my favorites, and a green tea churro! Dip the churro in the ice cream and voilà! You have a heavenly combination of green tea goodness.
After this, Mr. Goh, the tour guide, took us a to a beautiful spot covered in fully-bloomed cherry blossom trees. This was not originally part of the tour, but he wanted us to be able to take some nice pictures, as promised. Cool dude.
That’s all for today, folks. Should I get back to food-stuffs next week or would you like to hear about other things? Leave comments for feedback and recommendations! The weather is lovely in Seoul these days, so I’ll be happy to explore more for y’all.