We woke up early the next morning (after our visit to the Garden of Morning Calm) and decided to explore the area around our B&B. Basil and I walked along the road that ran parallel to the river and mountainside. It was a cloudy day with a strong possibility of rain and the mountains were covered with fog. This route also turned out to be a popular cycling trail and we saw many cyclists head out early in the morning. Few locals jogged and exercised along this path. But other than that — we were the only ones there.
The sidewalk was dotted with pension houses (perfect for big groups), quaint restaurants, bike rental shops, water sports equipment, wooden benches, and barbecue stands. We were tempted to ditch our original plan to visit Petite France and spend the day cycling or hiking around Cheongpyeong. The river attracted local birds and fishing enthusiasts. On the earlier evening, we had seen men patiently wait in knee-deep water with their fishing rods. There was also a campsite (a favourite for holidaying families) for those who wanted to be closer to nature. This spot turned out to be a hidden gem.
Route to Cheongpyeong Station
After a quick breakfast, we tried to figure the route to Cheongpyeong Station. We found a shortcut to the main road and walked back to the station. The local guard dogs were more friendly in the morning. The leaves of the ginkgo trees had started turning pale yellow.
We came across a patch of wildflowers, growing alongside a vegetable garden, as we approached Cheongpyeong station. We could see the clouds move above us. It was a truly beautiful scene. We didn’t have to wait for too long for the Gapyeong Shuttle Bus.
Petite France is a French themed cultural village. It’s not uncommon to see tourist attractions like these across Korea and they are quite popular with families with kids and young couples. These attractions are rarely our first choice. But we had come to Chyeongpyeong and France was a really long way from here (South Korea); we decided to play along.
We were just in time for the puppet show. I hadn’t watched a puppet show in years and thought it would be good fun to join the excited crowd. Basil didn’t share my enthusiasm and reluctantly sat down. The energy of the puppeteers was fantastic and translated in the moves of their puppets. The puppets danced to the songs of Michael Jackson and Abba. Few unsuspecting members, in the front row, also got some real-time interaction with the puppets.
As I sat there and laughed like a kid, I realised how escapism can help you get through anything. Sometimes, it’s easier to let go of reality and the things that aren’t in your control and just have fun — while you can.
We walked around and entered one of the coloured buildings. The collection inside showcased porcelain wares and collectibles. But it was the doll collection that really spooked me. Anyone who remembers the movie about the scary doll (Child’s Play) will know what I mean. I could never watch that movie as a child and it brought back those memories.
We wandered around and kept exploring different themes. It was fun to look at antiques, old games, musical instruments and even carefully preserved rooms.
KDrama Filming Location
There’s no real route to follow inside Petite France. It’s fun to just figure things as you walk. Petite France also happens to be a popular location for KDramas (Korean dramas). We got hooked to KDramas last year, but we still can’t compete with hardcore fans who actually set on a trail across Korea — tracing the locations of their favourite KDrama. We hadn’t heard of ‘Beethoven Virus’ before we entered the building that had its posters pasted all over. I was more impressed by the view outside the window.
It was around noon and we couldn’t find a place to have lunch. So Basil ordered coffee and I munched on some snacks we had carried along. Cheongpyeong Lake looked fantastic from this side.
We followed an easy trail that goes through a thick patch of trees. The views from the vantage point (at the end of the trail) are quite nice. We could see water sporting activity in Cheongpyeong Lake.
More Tunnels and More views…
Our walk around Petite France was cut short when it started drizzling. We did manage to cover a lot of ground and enter some galleries. And then we decided to look for eating options.
There weren’t many eating options outside and we settled for a meal at the local convenience store. The drizzle was slowly building up and we waited at the bus stop for the tour bus to take us to the next stop.
We were the only ones to get down at Jaraseom Island. The rain had gradually picked up and we had to find a place to seek shelter. The grounds were deserted and only after walking deeper inside did we see campsites.
The island gets its name from a peak that resembles a turtle. One of the entrances has a giant metallic structure of the turtle.
We found a lone coffee stall inside and took temporary refuge from the rain on a bench. We continued exploring once the rain stopped.
Jaraseom Jazz Festival is quite popular and attracts crowds from all over. The lady at the information centre (at Cheongpyeong Station) had said that all the campsites had been prebooked for the month of October.
We continued exploring and taking in the natural beauty around us. The silence was perfect. Once the rain stopped, we saw few families venture outside.
After a while we turned and started walking back to the entrance. This time, we chose a different route and we passed by a small lake. Jara island had a variety of campsites to choose from. We knew we had to come back someday.