Overnight Trip to Gangchon Resort: Rail Bikes and Sky Walk {09/25/18} NSLI-Y AY

09/25/18

Today was a confusing day from the start. But it was the sort of confusion that didn’t lead to frustration or anger but to an elevated sense of happiness when you realize what’s going on. At first, today, I thought we were going to visit more relatives. I didn’t realize that we were actually taking a two day and one-night mini vacation.

The whole 1.5 car ride to our final destination was spent sleeping and wondering how I would manage the many hours with my host family’s Korean relatives. It wasn’t until we were driving down a windy road near the mountains with the signs “Elysian Gangchon Resort” did I realize that we were really on a ‍추석 trip! I was ecstatic! I haven’t stayed at a hotel or resort since I was a child, so as we approached the huge building and the scenic paths guided with trees already changing colors, I was in awe.

The first thing on our agenda was hiking 구곡폭포 {Gugok Falls}. We drove up to the entrance and to my host dad’s surprise parking {or maybe the entrance fee?} was free because it was the 추석 holidays. My host dad literally did a happy dance when he figured that out. The hiking trail was marked with nine markers that all represented something with a deeper meaning like 꿈 (dream) and such {Though the 9th market up by the waterfall was just 끝}

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Hiking was something I never really dabbled in prior to this experience, but it was really fun. There wasn’t too much of an incline so the walking wasn’t hard on my legs, and the weather was cooler in comparison to 서울 which made everything more enjoyable.

While hiking, I talked with my host mom and sisters on a variety of topics. {I also just breathed in the fresh air and enjoyed the nature— something that I had missed!} My host mom taught me the word 산림욕 which translated to a forest bath. I am assuming it is like a break from city living by getting out into nature.

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After our hike, we were all terribly hungry and no one seemed to be able to wait until lunch. So at the entrance of the trail, I got to try two foods I have never eaten before: 번데기 (silkworm larva) and 다슬기 (marsh snails). To be honest, I was so scared to try both of them but my host sisters were really convincing because they found them both so delicious. I first tried the snails because they seemed friendlier? Honestly, they did not taste like much, just like a lot of other seafood (to me). Now, the silkworm larva… hmmm, they were strange. Like the taste itself was not bad (not gag-inducing like how I have seen people describe it). The texture was a bit weird and I could not get it out of my head that I was eating a bug but other than that, they were not bad. Would I get it again? No. But it was an experience!

We made a stop at an eatery for 닭갈비 (spicy stir-fried chicken) for lunch. Apparently, 춘천 is famous for their 닭갈비 and I could get a sense of that since nearly every restaurant had 닭갈비 in big, bold letters. {Also 막국수 (buckwheat noodles) is also very popular according to my host dad}

We went to this grilling place that had such a great atmosphere. We had to take our shoes off and sit on mats on a raised platform. And let me tell you, I can understand why it was famous! The food was delicious! They even had the thin radish slices to wrap up the meat which is my favorite way to eat any grilled meat. Also, though this may seem trivial, I felt so included in the family during this meal. My host mom was grilling the meat on one side of the table while my host dad focused on the other. My host mom kept placing meat on the part of the grill closest to me to make sure I was getting some. And then, she proceeded to place more in my actual dish. This made me feel so warm inside because not only were they including me in their meal, she was taking care of me— making sure I was fed. It was very sweet.

After lunch, we drove back to the resort to get some rest in before we continued our day filled with activities. We got into our room and I was so shocked; it was so nice! I haven’t stayed in a hotel in several years so I really saw this as a special treat. I would be sleeping in the same room as my host sisters on futon style beds on the floor. We relaxed for about 30 minutes and then we’re out the door as quickly as the resting time seemed to pass.

 

The week leading up to 추석, I heard a lot about 레일바이크 {Railbikes}. This was a term I have never heard previously and decided to let it be a surprise. We drove out to the 강촌 레일바이크 파크 (RailBike Park) and I saw them. The rail bikes were these large 4 seater bikes {?? I wouldn’t call them bikes but I do not know what else to call them} that were placed on a railroad {a railroad that I later found out had been abandoned; it is no longer in use. {Which is obvious but thought that it was cool. They didn’t just create this structure for the park, but instead, they repurposed an old one.}

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Riding the rail bikes was pretty tiring because we were pedaling non- stop mostly for around 45 minutes with a short break and then back to pedaling for 45 minutes. {or actually probably a bit less since it was more downhill coming back} And although I’m making it seem like a lot, it was so much fun. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing with my host mom and sisters {I rode the bike with them} while taking in all the beautiful views too. The best part was when the rail bike went over the river; it was beautiful. I love 서울 but these views have definitely got it beat! Nature is just so different than tall buildings {though I love me a good skyline}.

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After our endeavor with the rail bikes, we got into the car and drove to another place. {I know! We did so much. They truly spoiled me… us!}

We visited the 소양강 스카이워크 (Soyang River Sky Walk) which is basically this giant glass bridge suspended over the river. So as you are walking on the bridge, you can look down to see the water underneath your feet. It was pretty scary at first because thoughts of death would not leave my mind, but after a while, all I could think about was how beautiful the view was and how cool the walk was. My youngest host sister and brother were not having it at all so they sat while my host sister and I took lots of pictures and posed for some as well. We even sat down on the glass (we were such daredevils.)

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For dinner, we picked up some 닭강정 (sweet crispy chicken — another specialty of 춘천 apparently) and ate it in our room along with some 라면 (ramen) and instant 밥 (rice). We quietly ate as we were all hungry and tired and just wanted to fill our bellies! (We also watched a Korean children’s tv show while eating. I am happy to say that I understood some of it… I would not say most… but a good amount?)

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The rest of the night was spent relaxing. I wrote a blog post on the couch while my host sisters were sitting next to me either reading or playing on their parents’ phone. I felt bad for not studying but I wanted to enjoy these moments, these conversations so I let myself be in the moment. The second day of 추석 was amazing! I am so grateful and blessed~

Thanks for reading this post! I hope you had/have a great day! I have been pretty bad at posting regularly for this past week… I ran out of edited posts and this week was too hectic (due to school work, huge Korean test, and my birthday/hangouts with friends) for me to edit and schedule more. I hope I can get back to posting 2-3 times a week! Stay tuned for more! 

  • Emma 엠마

 

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