Hwaam Mineral Water Springs

8 05 2009

Exam season again. What does this mean for Korean schools? The obligatory teachers “trip” is what.

Usually this consists of all teachers and staff (unless you have an excellent excuse) piling into a bus after the first day of exams is complete, usually around 2pm, and heading off to a mountain or other scenic location for a bit of climbing or walking.

This year was no exception. I really don’t know where we initially were headed except I know we never got there. It was supposed to be an easy mountain to climb, except that today there was a fire burning, so the mountain was out.

Instead, we headed deep into Jeongseon county, past the Cave we had visited previously and onto the Hwaam Mineral water springs.

Here, naturally carbonated mineral water bubbles up out of the ground. They have actually built “pools” for this, where you can “harvest” the water for drinking or bottling for later.

From Hwaam Mineral Water Springs

After sampling the water we continued walking uphill, following the road and then off into a temple that was up in the mountains.

From Hwaam Mineral Water Springs

Following the walk/climng it then is time to sit down for the serious part of the trip. The food and drink.

Sorry but no photo’s of this, suffice to say we ate copious amounts of “mountain vegetables”. Steamed, cooked in pancakes, deep fried, you name it, we ate it. All washed down with DongDongJu, a kind of wine produced by fermenting corn. Not the best stuff.

Lots of drinking later the teachers and I all piled back into the bus where the hell really began. Yes, I’m talking about the NoRay Bus (Karaoke bus). Very loud music with singing and dancing the whole way home. Pretty painful 🙂

From Hwaam Mineral Water Springs

Still, worth doing? Yes.





The Mini-Monks of JeongamSa Temple

6 04 2009

Under a broad spreading tree in JeongamSa Temple, next to the main prayer hut people leave little Mini-Monk characters, along with money and/or candy to wish for good luck.

There are probably over 20 of the little guys there now, and they are really cute. Some of them are highly amusing too, look out for the boy getting bitten by the crab.

JeongamSa Characters

JeongamSa Characters

JeongamSa Characters

JeongamSa Characters

JeongamSa Characters

JeongamSa Characters

JeongamSa Characters

JeongamSa Characters





JeongamSa Temple in Gohan

5 04 2009

More local tourism, this time to the beautiful JeongamSa temple in Gohan, Jeongseon.

From JeongamSa Temple

This must be one of my favourite places in Korea. Its small, very peaceful and not at all crowded, a bit of a local secret I think.

I was first brought here by a Korean friend, May, and have visited a few times since.

First we had a delicious lunch of odeng and Kamjajeon at a famous restaurant at the junction point of Taebaek, Yeongwol and Jeongseon counties.

From JeongamSa Temple

The onto the temple. Parking in the carpark below the actual temple we walked up into the temple complex, stopping at the large carved granite Buddha on the way to wish for luck.

From JeongamSa Temple
From JeongamSa Temple

There is still a small amount of snow and ice floating around, giving the stream a beautiful look as well as making the whole place look great.

From JeongamSa Temple
From JeongamSa Temple
From JeongamSa Temple

A short walk, around 5 or so minutes, and you reach the seven tiered pagoda made of stone imported from India. It was constructed 645 years ago (info from a friendly guy at the top) and contains one of Buddha’s bones making it a proper pagoda. Like most, its a shoes off affair with prayer mats provided for the devoted.

From JeongamSa Temple
From JeongamSa Temple
From JeongamSa Temple
From JeongamSa Temple

Also like most temples, people make stupas of small rocks, as well as jamming rocks into anywhere they can.

From JeongamSa Temple

I think I’ve been here 4 or so times so far and still enjoy each and every time I visit. Being only 20 mins from home also helps. If you happen to be in the area, give it a visit.

I’ve heard that you get extra good luck if you tweak Buddha’s nipples.

From JeongamSa Temple




Accidental trip to Hwaam Cave, Jeongseon.

31 03 2009

Saturday 28th of March. No school. No rain. Perfect time to head out and do something a bit touristy.

The plan was to leave Taebaek and head north, looking for the mysterious Gwandong Dam, the source (or lack of) all the water in our area. I must have shrunk more than we thought as it was nowhere to be found.

Still, not all bad news. Instead of the Dam we stumbled upon Hwaam Cave in Jeongseon Country.

First stop was actually lunch at one of the many restaurants that surround the carpark. Some of the most delicious Naengmyeon (cold noodles) and KamjaJeon (potato pancake) that I’ve eaten in quite a while.

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Next we bought tickets (W2000 for the monorail, and W5000 for entry) and climbed onto the monorail for the trip up the mountain. About 5 minutes of slooooow monorail action later we arrived at the entrance to the cave. A wooden building that contained a tunnel heading straight into the mountain.

It turns out that this “cave” is more of an old mine that joins up with some natural cave systems, and has been turned into both a Mining museum, museum of natural caves, and a display of, in typical Korean style, Jeongseon.

The first half, or upper tunnel was the mining museum, interspaced with relics from various years of mining.

From Hwaam Cave
From Hwaam Cave
From Hwaam Cave

More bizzare, and hopefully restricted to Korea was the presence of mobile phone antennae spaced throughout the whole complex. These Korean can’t be without reception for even an hour. Crazy.

From Hwaam Cave
From Hwaam Cave

The cave itself was beautifully done, with great lighting, stairs, even space so only in 1 or 2 places could I possibly hit my head.

From Hwaam Cave
From Hwaam Cave

Even a “batman” style statue, much creepier than it looks here in the picture as it was much darker.

From Hwaam Cave

All of this was great, amazing and much better than expected. But still, not bizzare enough for Korea? Ok, time for the animated Jeongseonites.

From Hwaam Cave

These little fella’s seem to represent the peoples of Jeongseon county and the daily activities that they take part in.

From Hwaam Cave
From Hwaam Cave
From Hwaam Cave

Overall, a great day out. Not at all what we expected to find, especially after missing the dam, but a great experience. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a day out in the area. It seems to be around 40km from Taebaek, so easily doable as a day trip.