On the third and final day of our Suncheon trip, we had half a morning to spare before we head back to Seoul. The first two days had been chaotic with finicky weather. Waiting for local buses, searching for top sights, and speed walking were the highlights of the trip so far. So, on the last day, I wanted to wake up late and watch TV before we caught the bus back. Basil had other plans.
He coaxed me to take a ‘relaxing’ walk by the river. It was a lazy Sunday morning and the walking paths were deserted. The sun was out and lit every shade of the riverside landscape. Thankfully, there was a gentle breeze and under the cover of trees — the heat wasn’t too bad.
Like most of our walks, we didn’t have a particular place to reach, and we kept walking along the paved path. We tried to make the most of the sights we saw and to appreciate them for what they were.
After reaching the end of the river, we crossed the street, and found a beautiful garden at the base of a small mountain of sorts. The sharp rays of the sun and little tree cover made it impossible to stay here for long. We followed a bridge that connected the garden to a sleepy residential area.
It’s rare to see traditional tiled rooftops in Korea. On the opposite side flowers grew in abundance and greenery engulfed modern houses.
A small elevation indicated a route upwards. It looked like a dirt trail and we weren’t sure if we were allowed to hike here. It’s rare to see unkempt trails like these and from our past experience (in Pyeongchang), we’ve learned that some of these trails can lead to private property and barking dogs. We had an hour before checkout, leaving us with a narrow window, to explore this route. The path was narrow and littered with dead leaves.
As we climbed higher, we were surrounded by towering bamboo culms. Unlike the manicured grove in Boseong, the culms grew wild, and it wasn’t easy to look beyond them. Insects and birds made this nondescript trail alive. And, that’s what made this trail all the more enjoyable. It was wild, natural, and there was no attempt to sanitise it for humans to pass through.
Once we saw the boardwalk, we realised this was some sort of local hiking trail. For some reason we didn’t know about it. Few early hikers has begun descending towards the base. After a flight of steps, we reached a beautiful pavilion.
A small board explained the history of the pavilion. Kang Nam Chong was built as a rest place for locals, to soak the sights of the developing city below. And after making it to the top of the two storied pavilion, we couldn’t have agreed more.
The views of the city, below, were spectacular, making us wonder: why doesn’t Korean Tourism promote vantage viewing points like these enough? There seems to be a greater emphasis on building cutesy figures to attract a particular set of travellers. Sights like these should have been more easy to find and any information would have been useful.
There’s a quaint coffee shop (not surprising considering the country’s addiction to coffee) at the base of the Kangnamchong Pavilion. The owner was preparing to open shop at 11 am. We stepped in for coffee, a lemonade (since I don’t drink coffee), and a slice of the view below.
The cookies and sweets were on the house.
On our way down, we chose to follow another trail. There were many interesting sights on the way, but we didn’t have the time to stop and had to quickly descend.
The stairs lead us through a thick patch of vegetation and into a desolate resting place or shrine of sorts. The trail forked into multiple routes and we chose the route that would get us quickly to the base.
The end of the trail leads to a Buddhist Temple. The pathway was decorated with lanterns marking the birth celebrations of Buddha. Like before, the chirping of birds was the only sound we heard.
We passed by some more coffee shops (even the most rural town will have a local coffee shop) and a beautiful church with a filled parking lot.
Once again, we walked along the river and reached the main street. On Sunday morning, the farmer’s market were selling the best of their produce. Locals were enamoured by the caged birds and I must say, they did look pretty. It was a great way to end our trip in this scenic city.