Ganghwa-do


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Asia » South Korea » Gyeonggi-do » Ganghwa
April 21st 2013
Published: April 27th 2013
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We left Suwon at 8 am, and headed into Seoul to pick up people from there. We then drove to Ganghwa Island. Ganghwa Island is in Incheon. The island is massive, it makes up about 40 percent of Incheon, and is spread over 400 squared kilometres. I did absolutely no research beofre this trip. so I was expecting a cute, quaint little island, kind of like the little islands, I had been to a few weeks ago. But no, Ganghwa has a much more urban feel to it. There are actual towns with real shopping areas, and of course high-rise apartment buildings. It is also the largest island in the Seoul Metropolitan area. So not at all what I had imagined.

Our first stop was Gwangseongbo Fortress. The fortress was renovated in 1658, during the 9th year of the reign of King Hyojong of the Joseon Dynasty. The outer wall was already in place. The rennovations occured due to the fortress having sustained a lot of damage in past battles. It dates back to the Goryeo era. It was remodelled in 1745, to look more like a castlewith gates. The Battle of Sinmiyangyo, which took place in 1871, was the fiercest battle to take place there. On 24th April, 1871 Rear Admiral John Rodgers led an American naval forces fleet of 1,230 men. They landed on Ganghwa-do, demanding the opening of Korea's port and commerce.

We took a walk around the fortress, it wasn't that big, which was good as we didn't have much time there. We alos managed to avoid the huge Korean tour party that was there. We saw the tombs of General Eo Jae-Yeon and his brother Eo Jae-Seon. Gotta love when Koreans name their children, only one letter different. It was and still is popular to use the same first syllable sound for all your children. There is also the Ssangchung Stone Monuments that honour the two brothers. The views out to sea, and along the opposite coastline were beautiful.

Next on the agenda was Yeonmijeong Pavilion. The pavilion area was cute. You have to walk up a path to it, and it is surrounded by a wall. King Gojong of the Goryeo Dynasty used to gather students and study in the pavilion. It would of been a beautiful location to study in. The pavilion got its name because of its views. You can see the Hangang and the Imjingang rivers merging there, and this merging of the rivers resembles a swallow's tail. We had a wander around the pavilion's grounds. The views were really nice and we could see North Korea in the distance. There was a soldier on guard at the edge of the pavilion. He was in a little hut out on a platform, looking out to sea, to maek sure North Korea didn't attack. Although he has a gun, he wouldn't be able to do much by himself. We spent a while getting sneaky phots of the soldier and his lookout post. Well in our defence the signs were only in Korean. Then we lazed on the grass for a bit, soaking up some of the sun. Some families were having picnics there, the perfect spot for it.

We drove to the Dolmen site, but the drive took forever as we got stuck in bad traffic. Islands aren't meant to have traffic jams! We went to the Ganghwa History Museum, and had a quick look around there. Ganghwa was quite an important place back in the day. It was used by the Goryeo Dynasty as a summer retreat, and the capital was relocated there, if I remember correctly. Then we had a wander around the dolmen site. I was ignorant before as to what a dolmen is. It's just a big rock really, like Stonehenge. Dolmens are tombs and Korea has the largest concentration (40%) of dolmens in the world.

Around half two three ish we started our hike. We had to walk through a village first. Loads of Koreans were in the fields picking stuff. We later found out they were picking mugwort, and that's what all the other random Korean we saw picking stuff in random places were picking. We started walking up a paved road, but at one point the trail splits, and you can keep going up the road, or head on a trail through the forest. We decided to take the route through the forest. We think this route was a lot longer as we seemed to climb several peaks, beofre we finally arrived a bit hot and sweaty at Mt. Goryeosan. The walk was beautiful and it felt like we were in an enchanted forest with all the pretty flowers around us. Also there weren't too many people. So we had patches
Ssangchung Stone MonumentsSsangchung Stone MonumentsSsangchung Stone Monuments

Gwangseongbo Fortress, Ganghwa-do
of peace and quiet, and not the usual hordes that can be found on hiking trails in Korea. At the top the views were great, but a bit hazy. We could hear the sounds from a temple nearby, that was a bit further down on another trail, but we couldn't see it. So it added an air of mystery. We could also see a walkway across the mountain, kind of reminded me of the Great Wall in China. The mountain was meant to be covered in Azalea flowers, so it would look pinky-red. But the weather had beena bit too cold, so most of the flowers hadn't bloomed yet. There was aso a helipad at the top of the mountain and an army base. I can't remember if it was for ROK or US soldiers.

The walk down wasn't too bad and we took the path way instead of back through the forest, the way we came. Well we did go a little bit into the forest, but it was a different route. I wish I had longer legs, I am so slow at walking! We got back on the bus and got stuck in more traffic in downtown Ganghwa-do. So it took well over an hour to get to the restaurant. It was around seven, when we got to the restaurant. We were ravenous, having only really ate snacks all day. We had a mushroom and tofu soup, it was made with a fishy stock. It was okay, but I could of ate about twenty bowls of it. Then after scoffing that it was back on the bus for the journey to Seoul.


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Gwangseongbo Fortress, Ganghwa-do


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