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Published: June 23rd 2009
I had been looking so forward to this trip and even more so cause I would have a couple of good travel companions for the trip! Tea picking in Boseong in spring, what a treat!
7am and we were on our way to the Incheon bus terminal soon to be on rout to Gwanju. The buses in Korea as I have mentions so often are fantastic but the half way stops (AKA Engen 1 stop type spots) are even more incredible, in fact I think astounding is a better word! After two hours on the bus we pulled off the road at the 1 stop and you have 15 minutes to have a loo and snack break a big challenging when 500 buses carrying 40+ passengers all stop at the same time. We were nervous cause the loo line was just insane to say the least. Now I know this is hardly something that should warrant discussion in my blog but let me just tell you the reason it gets mention is cause I have never ever seen that many woman move in and out of a bathroom so rapidly in my life and to top it off it was
absolutely spotless. I tell you South Africa has something to learn and they most certainly could take a leaf out of this spots book especially during December. We went from thinking we were either going to miss the bus or really die on the last two hours to Gwanju to being in and out of the loo queue with enough time to buy a snack.
One top and two hours later and we were safely deposited at Gwanju bus terminal, next on the agenda Gwanju to Boseong. Again the first world bus system was a breeze to navigate and in no time we had booked tickets to Boseong and we’d also managed to secure tickets for the following days drive back to Incheon.
Engrossed in conversation and sitting on the right side of the bus mom and I were blissfully unaware of the way the driver was navigating the bus. It was not until we got off the bus and saw the green look on dads face that we realized we should be lucky we even made it Boseong in one piece. Apparently the bus driver was playing chicken with oncoming traffic and was navigating a Putko type
bus in a weaving motion down a very narrow two lane road the entire hour’s journey. I think we were wall grateful to arrive in Boseong but I think dad even more so. Indecently at one point the bus came to a halt and the bus driver was hooting and madly gesticulating so we all looked out the window and some poor car had been run off the road into the ditch. Another car had stopped to help but cause of the narrow road it meant I bus had to stop momentarily to let an on coming car go by before he could over take. Let me tell you this bus driver was a manic and he was stopping for nothing!
While thankful for out safe arriving at Boseong terminal, we still needed to figure out how on earth we were going to get to the tea plantations. Arriving in Bosong, as was the case in Nonsan, was like stepping into a different world where the only words to describe it are lost in translation. Luckily we managed to befriend a lovely Korean lady and her three children and she very kindly attempted help us find out how the
bus system worked or how much a taxi would cost to get us to the plantations but even she was battling to get any answers. In the middle of helping us try and get to the bottom of the transport between Boseong terminal and the tea plantation her father arrived to fetch the family and next thing you know nine people and luggage were being crammed into his massive back car (aptly named the horse by dad) and we were privately escorted to the tea plantations. The friendliness of the Korean people never ceases to amaze!
2pm and I think we, and dad in particular, couldn’t have been happier to be on firm ground and finally off of any form of transportation vehicle. After the exhausting and hairy few hour we though it only apt to reward ourselves with a green tea ice cream….or two (we had to sample from both the stalls, its would have been rude not too ). Green Tea ice cream is highly recommended.
Boseong is by far the most beautiful place I have been to in South Korea so far it is breath taking. The green tea fields set against the back
drop of forested mountains on one side and the sea on the other is stunning to say the least. We spent hours wondering the plantations with the hoards of other people just taking in the scenery and enjoying some time out of the city.
After a hefty climb to the vantage point at the top of the plantations we took a walk down to the festival grounds to catch a brief glimpse of some of the festivities and to try some green tea, after all you can’t go all that way to the nok cha chuktche and not sample some green tea. Some hours later and we figured we best make our way in the direction of a motel.
An executive decision was made, AKA the girls decided, that we would head to Yulpo (a little town 15 minutes down the drag on the sea front) to find a motel for the night. Yet another one horse town in the South Korea Yulpo was fairly quiet but quaint. Dinner time and now the fun begins ordering food calls on a whole bunch of patience specially when your reading skills are at best limited and even when you have
read it, doesn’t mean you have a single clue what exactly will arrive on your table. Now in the city I can head to a local Korean restaurant and I know what to order and there isn’t a problem however in out back Korea I’m completely lost and to top it off I was feeling a little pressure to find some form of Korean cuisine that would change dads initial preconception of this countries culinary offerings. Slightly challenging when we weren’t exactly spoiled for choice: hue (AKA raw fish), hue, hue, BBQ and one lonely traditional Korean spot….choices choices. We’d eaten meat the previous night and I was slightly concerned about the hue option since I wasn’t sure if it was just going to be like sashimi or weather hue would turn out to be some dodgily treated raw fish so we settled for what I thought would be a safe choice, regular Korean food. The meal turned out to be less than average and I hadn’t managed to change dad’s initial impression of Korean food but at least we were all fed.
In true South African style we went in search of a coffee shop after dinner. I’d
spotted a sign earlier but as is so often the case the sign still existed but the establishment itself was no longer. We were about to settle for some of the dodge packet coffee that you can buy at the family mart when someone told us that we could get a cup of coffee at Da Vinci and they sort of pointed in the general right direction. So we decided that even though we were weary we had to keep going till it was really time to hit the sack so the search for Da Vinci coffee shop began. Walking in the general direction pointed to us we appeared to be heading into doge ville and we were also wondering why we were met with amused looks when we asked two, different, sets of people were we could find this infamous coffee offering Da Vinci spot, on arrival however we realized why. “Da Vinci was in fact a massive “hotel” and it was not called Da Vinci at all it was actually called Da Beach but since Koreans love to add an e to the end of words apparently what we were being directed to was Da Beachie very amusing!
We managed to find the Coffee and Hoff inside and after a very substandard cup of instant coffee and an undrinkable cup of syrupy tea we decided that it was time to call it a night!
The following morning we quite easily stumbled upon the bus that would take us all the way from Yulpo to Boseong and then onto Gwanju in fairly good time and without dicing oncoming traffic this time.
We arrived in Gwanju with a good few hours to spare before we needed to get on the bus to Incheon so we headed to the “near by” nature park to have a walk around. Frommer’s guide in hand we found the bus headed for Mudeungsan. The bus was pretty full with avid hikers so we had no option but to stand but since we the book said it was a short way off we weren’t phased (Weren’t being the operative word). Now ordinarily when the seats in a bus are all take and the bus is pretty full with people standing you don’t stop and collect more passengers (well at least this is the case everywhere except for in Africa or at least so I
thought) but apparently I was mistaken. Without fail the rude bus driver stopped at each and every bus stop managing only to collect more and more hikers. At one point we were so squashed and the bus was so filled to capacity that the bus driver could barely open the doors but low and behold he still stopped the buss and allowed a very very rude and annoying man and his wife to push and push till they somehow managed to get the entire crowd on the bus to squash that much more so that they could get on. Thank goodness after that stop the obstinate bus driver realized that there was absolutely no way we were squashing another person on the bus so he didn’t stop at the last bus stop (Mad gesticulating from the hikers waiting for the bus at that stop) and he rather started the uphill assent to the mountain. It sure was turning out to be a weekend of interesting bus rides.
Quick bus schedule check and we made our way for a little walk in amongst nature. Mudeungsan is stunning and it’s also so nice to actually see some blue sky for a
change (rather than the dull grey-blue sky of in Seoul) but there was still a distinct lack of nature much to my folk’s disappointment. The walk turned out to be nice but after just thirty minutes we had to turn back if we wanted to get the bus back in time. It would take about 50 minutes to get us back to the terminal and we needed to be back in time to get our 2:24 bus back to Incheon so we had to get on the 1pm bus. I swear we were there by 1pm but somehow we either missed the 1pm bus or the drivers had decided that lunch was more important and that the passengers could suck it up and wait till the 1:20 bus so that they could have lunch (my suspicion was the latter) Now mode, we not only had to make it to the terminal but we had to retrieve our bags from the lockers and then make it to the platform and we now only had an hour, it was very nerve racking. There happened to be another two South African on the bus with us, they were living in Gwanju, and were
nice enough to tell us about the under pass from the bus drop off to the terminal so as soon as the bus stopped at the bus stop at 2:15 I had to put foot to try and plead with the bus driver to please wait just five minutes for us, folks hot on my pursuit. I was grateful that I had done some carbo-loading at the green tea ice cream parlor the day before. While they weren’t amused we, managed to retrieve our bags and make it onto the bus not 5 minutes late boy were we thankful!
Five hours later and we were back at Incheon bus terminal. Yet again dinner time, what to eat? This time I was right on the money a little trip to Bupyeong for a chicken wrap at Khans Pakistani restaurant and there were smiles all round! Pakistani kebabs rounded off a fun filled first weekend with my folks.
P.S if you ever get yourself to forever 21 try and get serviced with a pink travel pillow its a real win....well at least do dad assures me....nothing like a good service, Dunking cappuccino and a reclining bus seat when traveling :-)
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