Let me start off by saying that Korean’s love their weekend festivals. I’ve been to quite a few and have felt both awe and disappointment. Some festivals, like the Jinhae cherry blossom festival and Jinju lantern festival, typically draw huge crowds from all over Korea. These are the ones that I typically try to avoid, due to the near IMPOSSIBILITY to find shelter and transportation along with the entire population of Korea (or so it seems). That being said, I love going to the smaller festivals that are more local to my home in Jeollanam-do.
A few of my friends from Mokpo decided to move Suncheon after their JLP contract ended, drawn by the bigger foreign community and change of scenery. While I was sad to see them go, they frequently return on weekends since it’s only an hour and a half long bus ride to Mokpo. 2 weeks ago one of those friends had mentioned something about a small festival in their new city and how they were thinking about going. I immediately jumped in, being almost 5 months since exploring anywhere new, and asked about the festival and their new home.
Apparently, Suncheon is known as being one of the most ecologically preserved wetland sites and the 5th largest tideland world.
Because it has such little pollution it attracts many rare, endangered, preserved, and migratory bird species every year. Not only is this site great for biological research, it attracts thousands of tourists each year.
*Disclosure* That little bit above I had to google, I didn’t know these facts off hand ;).
Having heard all these great things, I had to see it for myself! I dragged my boyfriend along, even though he’s not the adventurous type, and we hopped on the bus at around 10am.
~We regretted this later, should have taken the car~
Upon arrival at the Bus terminal our first impression of Suncheon, was not very great. The buildings looked run-down and the city felt a bit deserted and industrial. We managed to find a taxi easily, and in about 15 minutes we arrived at the ecological park. I was pretty hopeful at this point that maybe we wouldn’t have a problem with crowds of people and traffic, since it seemed smooth so far.
Important note: Bring food with you or eat before you go!
Unlike many festivals, there was a lack of the typical Korean food stands.And the lines for the 3 restaurants, with the exception of Lotteria, were ridiculously long.
Before you enter you must visit the ticket office and pay 8,000W per person.
The first thing you’ll see is the stage where they have the performances, and the Echo Park Museum. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to visit the museum due to my achy knee from the long hike to the bay view point. I’m sure it would have been fantastic, though so make sure to check it out (preferably before you venture into the reeds)!
There are many different paths to take, but we followed the one with all of the people which led us straight to the wooden bridge/path that is hovering above the mud. It really was a beautiful sight, and thankfully an equally beautiful day, and the reeds were just glistening in the sunlight. Below there are tiny little crabs and crab holes that can be seen, and many of the small children were squatted down to poke them. Poor things.
Of course it wouldn’t be a successful venture without the cheesy photo opportunity! There was even a professional model and 3 photographers using the scenery for their magazine (I think). Unfortunately, I couldn’t snap a pic of her because the creeper that did got yelled at. You gotta pay! So instead, here’s me!
Walking along the path was such a peaceful experience. At one point I told my boyfriend to shut up so I could just listen to the reeds swaying in the wind. It was out of this world.
Then came the hard part.
There was a picture I’d seen online and on the posters at the festival that I was determined to see for myself. The board walk split off into the direction of the viewpoint, which I’d assumed was the one I was looking for, and we began our hike. Needless to say I was completely unprepared and thought it would be much shorter.
It took us about 45 Min to hike up to the top. I know I was going slow because the adjumas were walking faster than me! Also the two options to get to the top are “the hard road” and “the road of meditation”… We decided to avoid the stairs and take “the road of meditation”, it sounds nice in theory, but I definitely wasn’t feeling like meditating.
In conclusion, this is definitely a festival I recommend everyone to come to if they have a chance. The view was absolutely stunning and the atmosphere is probably the cleanest you’ll feel, and see, in all of Korea. Also! Don’t forget to bring a friend, it’s a longgggg walk!
If you want to see the offical “Visit Korea” website with more information, click HERE.