17 February 2013

Winter in Chuncheon

From Ice Festival in Hwacheon, I and my friends continued our trip to Chuncheon, the capital city of Gangwon-do province. We took the bus from Hwacheon bus terminal to Chuncheon train station bus stop (30 minutes ride). From there, we took city bus to Myeongdong street (10 minutes ride), a popular street of fashion, foods, and clubs in Chuncheon. The name Myeongdong is the same with the most happening place in Seoul too. Our destination is Dakgalbi Street. Chuncheon is famous for Dakgalbi, a spicy marinated chicken ribs. We had dinner in one of Dakgalbi restaurants over there. The portion was bigger than in Seoul, and it was more delicious. Another famous food from Chuncheon is Makguksu, a spicy cold noodle.

In the Dakgalbi restaurant where we had dinner, we asked the owner where the nearest Jimjilbang (찜질방) was. He then gave us the address, and we took taxi from Myeongdong to there. Jimjilbang is a public bathhouse in Korea that's opened 24 hours. It is usually equipped with uniform (pink for woman, blue for man), hot tub, shower, sauna, spa, massage table, ondol-heating floor and mats for sleeping, snack bar, TV, and so on. People can use all the facilities and sleep overnight for only 6000-10,000 won. That's why it is a favorite place to stay overnight for budget travelers.

That was my first time going to Jimjilbang. Shower, sauna and hot tub were in separated between men and women, while lounging and sleeping area was mixed. In the shower room, I felt so awkward being naked in front of other women and seeing them naked too, but they looked so natural and not really care. Maybe if I visited Jimjilbang more often and already used to it, I wouldn't care anymore. In the sleeping room, it was also awkward laying beside strangers. At night, I was laying besides my friend and a woman, but when I woke up in the morning I found a man beside me. I left my friend who's still sleeping there (she was also shocked waking up to find a man sleeping besides her :P), and went down to the women floor. Apparently there was a sleeping room too in that floor, but unfortunately it was not equipped with heated floor. That's why it was so cold and not so many women sleeping there.

We then checked-out from Jimjilbang, and continued our journey to explore this city. We didn't have any plan, we just walked randomly. After grabbing some breads for breakfast in Family Mart, we walked to the what it seemed like a train station. Apparently our Jimjilbang was located near Chuncheon train station! There was Tourist Information Center outside the station, and we collected some brochures. After quickly reading some of them, we decided that we should check Soyang River Dam, the biggest dam in Korea. We took bus 12-1 from a bus stop in front of train station. About 20 minutes later, we arrived. The dam was located between mountains, and the sky was clear, it was so beautiful!




 We hiked from gate to octagonal pagoda. It was tiring, windy and cold, but it was worth it!


From Soyang Dam, we took the same bus to go to Myeongdong street to have lunch. Last night we didn't look this area thoroughly, only to eat Dakgalbi. Apparently this street was one of shooting locations of Korean drama Winter Sonata.
Myeongdong Street in Chuncheon

Winter Sonata hand prints

Romantic Market (basically it's just a normal market selling clothes, bedsheet, foods, etc :p)

From there, we took taxi to Gangwon-do Drama Gallery. Gangwon-do province is the most popular location of Korean Dramas (other than Jeju Island, of course), because of its beautiful scenery and nature. The dramas that was shooting here include Winter Sonata, My Sassy Girl, and Autumn in My Heart. This museum contains exhibition and pictures of those drama.



From there, we walked looooong way to Chuncheon train station while sightseeing the city. There were many interesting things to see along the way, so we weren't bored at all. There was no festivals in Chuncheon, but like other cities in Gangwon-do province, rivers here were also frozen. I saw many locals playing games, like football, on the icy rivers.





And finally we arrived in Chuncheon train station. Time to go home back to Seoul!

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