Leaving the concrete jungle that is Seoul and traveling east to the luscious, green mountains and valleys of Gangwon-do can be a spiritual experience. While the experience is spiritual, being transported there is most definitely not. Every time I travel a long distance in South Korea I am always met with unbelievable disgust. The idea that I must be stuck in a small, cramped and quite smelly sardine can for hours on end is revolting to me. But without a doubt I always find my way into the van or onto the bus and make my way to my destination. Once I arrive, I am without a doubt as happy as can be. My latest trip to Hongcheon, Gangwon-d0, South Korea was no different.
Pensions in Korea have a very unique charm to them. They are always quaint, meticulous, and efficient. Often too efficient at times considering the pension I went to recently only had one bathroom….for twenty people. Now, thankful the twenty people I shared the bathroom with were also my friends and co-pensioners. Strangely enough, everything went as smooth as can be and no one had any problems at all. We brought a long with us a great deal of food, beer and soju to hold us over for the evening. The price was steep but the pleasure was high. A weekend full of fun in the sun, a brook of beauty blue water, plenty of food and beer, and absolutely shockingly wonderful scenery. I can’t express enough how much of a necessity pensions are needed in South Korea. City life in Seoul is very stressful and chaotic. Between the smog, taxis and crowded subways one might go mad without a nice getaway. I can see why pensions in the most uninhabited parts of Korea are booming. Fresh air and freedom are a necessity for mental survival.
The best part about this pension was that it was nestled between a babbling brook and a gorgeous mountain side. The charm of the pension was only amplified by its location. I could not have asked for a more peaceful location. I love the sounds of brooks, streams or rivers. It is extremely relaxing to me and tends to push the stress out of my body. In fact, I took a very nice nap by the side of the brook. It is a great pleasure for me to close my eyes and hear the brook meandering down the bed. There was also some beautiful cranes that made their home in this cute little area. This pension was wonderfully untainted and clean of commercialized bullshit that tends to ruin so many perfect destinations today.
Just like with everything in life, friends tend to help put the moments in perspective. I was able to share this great time with some friends that I have met over the course of this year in South Korea. I only have one month left in South Korea and I am coming to realize just how quickly time flies by and just how much you need to appreciate every moment. I finally understand just how long one year feels. I hope my long journey ahead blesses me with such quality humans in my life again. Beautiful moments are always created when you can share an amazing experience with great friends no matter where you are in the world. Sometimes beautiful scenery and wonderful landscapes just aren’t enough and the missing ingredient tends to be quality friends to share exceptional moments with. Push it!