AndromedHa

Korea trip – day 4

Posted on: May 25, 2011

We began our day with breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast was a combination of western and asian dishes – and yes, it had kimchi too! It seemed like Seorak Daemyong Resort is a very popular resort for tourists. The hotel restaurant was pretty cramped and we didn’t even get fruits for dessert 😦

Oh yeah, for you with hi-tech gadget, the Wi-Fi is only available at the lobby. The room doesn’t provide LAN internet neither, so you have to go down to the lobby to browse with your laptop/ iPad/ iPhone – which was a bit hassle for us.

Since we arrived at the hotel around 9 pm the day before, we didn’t really realize that the hotel was actually pretty close to Mt. Seorak. The view was pretty breathtaking. Near the hotel, there is another Teddy Bear Museum! I didn’t know this until I noticed the sign when we exited the hotel gate :S Maybe that’s why there were 2 stuffed bears at the lobby.

 

View of mountains from the hotel; The stuffed teddy bear at the lobby

MT. SEORAK NATIONAL PARK
Mt. Seorak (Seoraksan) is one of the highest mountains in South Korea. The perfect time to visit Seorak is actually during fall/ autum when the leaves turn red and yellow. Perfect for pictures! Its famous granite peaks, Ulsanbawi, is a popular hiking site for tourists and even locals.  Ulsanbawi is a pretty tough trail, i.e. for advance hikers. But no worries, there are several other trails ranging from beginner to advance.

It only took us about 30 minutes from the hotel to Mt. Seorak. The tour guide said that couple days prior, it was snowing at Mt. Seorak, so it might be chilly when we visited. I prepared myself with sweater, jeans, and sneakers. It turned out that the weather wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was perfect for hiking and taking picture of course! 😛 The cherry trees were still blossoming at that time and again, we saw a lot of students having field trip in the park.

 

Mt. Seorak entrance ; Maps of area in Korean 😦

 

Cherry blossom Mt. Seorak

Beside hiking trails, there are other attractions inside the park: Sinheungsa Temple with its bronze Buddha statue, Baekdamsa Temple, Gwongeumseong Fortress on top of the mountain, and beautiful waterfalls.

 

Random thing: a water with no pipe?! ; The gate to Sinheungsa Temple

Sinheungsa Temple
Before reaching the temple, there is a big bronze Buddha statue (over 10 meter tall). Buddhists can pray, lit candles, or donate their money by buying rice for the monks or buying roof for the temple.

  

The Great Bronze Buddha Statue ; Wishes on the temple roof

There is a granite bridge over a small stream to get to the temple. Like any traditional Korean houses, the temple area is surrounded by 4 walls with one entrance in the front. Once you pass the front door, there are a space with 4 statues at the right and left hand sides representing the Gods of earth, water, air, and fire. Once you get to the garden area, there is a water fountain on the right – where a lot of people seemed to drink the water. It is believed that if you drink the water, your age will be prolonged by 8 years – if I’m not mistaken. In the middle of the garden, you can see a big house with an underpass. Koreans believe that in order to enter a sacred area, you have to bow down to the god, so that’s why you have to pass through the underpass to get to the temple at the back. Once you pass it, you’ll see the temple. We only took pictures there and wait for other people from the group who wanted to pray.

  

Granite bridge to the temple ; The ‘fountain of youth’

   

 Sinheungsa temple ; Took a peak inside ; Beautiful details on the roof

I guess it’s where they bake the clay roof?

Gwongeumseong Fortress
In order to reach the Gwongeumseong Fortress, you need to ride a cable car, then hike a short trail (about 15 minutes up the stairssss – yes, it was a LOT of stairs and it was muddy due to snow the previous day), and finally climb a steep peak at the top of the mountain. I, myself, didn’t have a gut to climb the steep peak. I just waited my fiance who was brave enough to climb the rocky slope. He said that the climb was pretty tough and scary since there was no rail once you get to the top peak. So yeah, it was pretty much a free fall to the bottom of the mountain if you slipped :S

 

The cable car

 

The snow! ; Biseondae (Flying Fairy Platform)

 

The rocky mountains ; looking down from the mountain

 

The Fortress is at the top where the Korean flag is ; some people wrote their name on the rock

  

After an hour hike, we had lunch for the day: BBQ fish!

OCEAN WORLD at Vivaldi Park
The next activity for us was swimming! YEAY! The trip from Mt. Seorak to Vivaldi Park took quite some time, about 4 hours? So I took a nap at the bus and dreamt about my comfy bed 😦 When we arrived at the Vivaldi Park Resort, it was around 4 pm. There are several buildings in the area and our hotel was happened to be in front of the ski area. Since it was spring, the ski area was closed, but the gondola was still opened. The Ocean World itself was only couple blocks away but we took the tour bus anyway 😛

Ocean World was a COOL place! Not only for children, it’s fun for adult too. It seemed like it has Egyptian theme. Once you purchase your entry ticket, you are required to put a deposit to the cashier (the amount is up to you). This deposit can be used to buy food inside the swimming area, which I think is a great idea so you don’t have to worry to bring a wallet with you. They will then give you your locker key that resembling a watch with number on it. You can get your deposit back by returning the locker key before leaving the facility. First thing to do before entering the changing area is to store your sandals/ shoes at the shoe locker area with corresponding number on your keys. To open the locker, just swipe the keys in front of the sensor until the light turns green and to close, just push the door until the small light turns red.

Afterward, men and women will enter separate changing area. Here, there are more lockers for your clothes and bags. Again, find the corresponding locker number as on your key. In case you wondering why they have separate changing room for men and women? This facility has separate men and women sauna near the clothing locker area in which NO clothes are allowed. For Koreans, it’s a common thing – if you’re uncomfortable, then maybe swimming is a better idea. Once you exit the changing room, you’ll be able to gather with your friends to enjoy fun swimming!

During summer or peak season, you can enjoy both indoor and outdoor games. However, when we visited, only the indoor area was open. Don’t get me wrong, the indoor swimming area itself has lots of different FUN things. From water massage systems, “Water Flex”- where a huge bucket of water falls on you, current pool, wave pool resembling beach shore, hot tub with different water temperatures, and TUBE SLIDE! At first, I was scared to do the tube slide, but after the first time, I was kinda addicted to it! And yes, I sled for SIX times! hahaha… Don’t forget to wear your swimming cap before entering any pool, or else the life guard will whistle and scream at you hahahaa… If you don’t have a cap, you can buy it for 1500 won.

One thing you don’t have to worry is bringing towel with you. The shower area provides dry towels for you – and you can use as much as you want. It also equips with drying machine for your bathing suit! How convenience! In the ladies shower room, they even provides hair dryers and Lancome body lotion for you!

The gate to Ocean World

The ticketing price

 

So, after long day of hiking and swimming, we expect a good dinner for our stomach. However, the menu for that night was traditional vegetarian meal 😦 Not that they weren’t delicious, but I needed some meat for replacing all the calories I lost hahhaa….

  

   

 

Various vegetarian meal

When we got back to the hotel, it was about 7 pm. We decided to check out the underground mall below the hotel. We found a supermarket and yes, I bought lots of Lotte chocolates and Korean crackers 🙂 We also walked toward the ski area, but since it was pretty dark and quiet, we decided to go to bed early.

 

Cheers,
M.a.J

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