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Suncheon: Open Film Set

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I visited the Suncheon Open Film Set several years back which I have not blogged about and I just feel like doing so now!  Lots of my friends like to ask me for recommendations on where to go outside Seoul, besides Jeju and Busan.  I always say ‘Go to Suncheon!  It is a really nice place’.  So far, no one I know has taken me up on my suggestion. Boooo.

After going to the Suncheon Bay, Songgwangsa Temple and Seonamsa Temple, I had a spare morning before heading back to Seoul.  I was torn between the Naganeupseong Folk Village and the Open Film Set, and had only time for one.  I picked the latter because the city bus schedule to and from the folk village was not good for me.  No regrets ‘cos the Open Film Set is one of the most interesting places that I have been to.  Highly recommended especially if you are a photography buff.   

I took a cab to the Open Film Set (it is just a short ride away from the Suncheon city centre).  The location is a little out of the way to hail a cab back to the city centre, so what I did was to ask the staff of the ticket office to call a cab for me when I was ready to leave.  I have done this many times while visiting out-of-the-way places in various parts of Korea and the Koreans have always been very helpful in getting me a cab.  There is a small entrance fee to the the Open Film Set, though I cannot remember how much it is now.  

 photo DSC_0092-2-101121-v2__zps5b659fac.jpgThis film set is fairly huge and very nice.  They re-created the streets of Korea from the 1950s to the 1970s in this place.  It is akin to being in an open-air historical museum, and  a good place for young Koreans and foreigners to learn more about the history of the country.  I remember being glued to Sandglass, a highly popular drama set in the 1960s and 1970s, portraying the political situation in Korea at that time including the events around the Gwangju uprising.  

There were several groups of photography buffs taking photos with their friends posing with the buildings.  I was alone so I tried to snap photographs whenever someone in this group posed for a photo; otherwise, I would only have photos of the buildings and streets.

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Korea: Suncheon Bay In South Jeolla

Suncheon Bay photo DSC_0895-1-101120-v2__zps376a87f1.jpgSuncheon Bay is an ecological wetland comprising a long stream, a wide tideland and wide fields of reeds.  It is the habitat of migratory birds, plants and animals.  I knew I wanted to visit this place when I first read about it.

I stayed 3D2N in downtown Suncheon, just enough time for me to visit the Songgwangsa Temple, Suncheon Bay, the Seonamsa Temple, and the Suncheon Open Film Set before taking the bus back to Seoul.  Most of the city buses heading to the attractions in Suncheon leave from the city centre, in front or close to the train station.  Suncheon Bay is about 20 minutes away by the city bus which stops just across the road from the entrance of the park, and entry to the park is free.

Suncheon Bay photo DSC_0764-1-101120-v2__zpsf12eecb9.jpg photo DSC_0770-1-101120-v2__zps9aed66fe.jpgI fell in love with this park the minute I stepped foot into the sprawling park. It was late autumn and the park was bathed in a sea of golden reeds.

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Korea: Songgwangsa Temple In South Jeolla

Every photo decluttering exercise is an opportunity to reminisce about my trips. This time, I am cleaning up the folders containing photographs of my 5-week trip to Korea in late autumn of 2010.  I dugged out some photos of my favourite places to put up here.  I have no idea why it has taken me several years to do so, but as they always say, better late than never.

I love visiting Korea, and I have gone back every year since 2007.  With the exception of the 5-week trip, the rest of my visits were short trips lasting between 4 days to 10 days.  I have been there in all four seasons and autumn is my favorite time of the year to visit because the fall colours are beautiful.  Despite having been there so many times, there are still so many parts of the country that I have not seen.  I haven’t been to the DMZ, for example; or gone to Andong, or seen the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

I cannot exactly explain what about the country that I am besotted with. I like the scenery.  Both the urban and countryside landscope. I like the culture. I like the food.  I have no problems eating Korean food three times a day, or kimchi everyday.  I suppose it is also largely due the fact that it is a place that I feel comfortable travelling around on my own even though I cannot speak the language.

People have asked how I manage to get around the country, especially in the countryside, when I don’t speak the language.  I bring along Korean versions of maps of the city or town that I am in, circle the places that I want to go to on the maps, so that I can show them to cab-drivers or to anyone whom I may be seeking directions from.  I also copy down names and addresses of the hotels or motels that I would be staying at, in Hangeul, to reduce the difficulty of getting understood (or misunderstood) by the locals.

My preferred mode of traveling between cities or towns is by coach, and by cab within the area.  Getting around Korea by bus is very easy, convenient and affordable even if you don’t speak the language.  All I have to do is to take a cab to the city or town bus terminal, buy a coach ticket, stick my suitcase in the luggage compartment, board the bus, go to sleep and wake up at my destination several hours later.  I have taken the KTX and comparing the train and coach, I find the coach a much easier way to travel between cities or towns because coach travel rarely requires me to change coaches, or lug my luggage up and down platforms.  I never have to worry about missing the connecting train, or getting off at the wrong station.

During the 5 week trip, I started out in Seoul, then travelled to Gangneung, Jeju, Jeonju, Gwangju, Suncheon and Gyeongju.  I liked Suncheon alot, especially Suncheon Bay and the Songgwangsa Temple.
 photo SonggwangsaTemple_zps5ba23cf7.jpgPrior to Suncheon, I was in Gwangju.  I took an early morning coach from Gwangju to Suncheon, arrived just before noon, checked into the motel, dropped my bags and went out to Songgwangsa Temple.

Songgwangsa is about an hour-half away by bus from the city center of Suncheon. I boarded the bus outside the Suncheon Station, and the scenic bus ride took me along the streets of Suncheon, into the outskirts, then the countryside before climbing up winding roads of a mountain to reach its final destination at Songgwangsa Temple.  It is a short walk to the entrance of the temple from the bus stop.  I recall paying a small fee – nothing more than 5,000 Won – to enter the temple.  

 photo DSC_0502-1-101119-v2__zps33040b2b.jpgDotted with tall, beautiful trees, and some of these crowned in fall colors, the grounds of Songgwangsa were beautiful, tranquil and peaceful.  The whole place is as pretty as a picture.  I imagine how green and lush the place will be during spring and summer.

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Postcard From Korea: Suncheon Bay Hike To The Yongsan Observatory

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I don’t remember taking this photograph in Suncheon Bay. So I was quite happy when I came across it in my photo archives tonight. I like the composition and the mood of the photo.

The bridge is the start of a 30-minute hike from Suncheon Bay to the Yongsan Observatory. The hike takes one up some fairly inclined slopes, and I started panting shortly after I started. πŸ™‚

But the views of the bay seen at the top of the observatory are amazing. Makes all the panting and sweating up the slopes worthwhile.

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Gaejang

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Raw crabs marinated with soybean sauce and/or red pepper and served cold.

I tried this for the first time in an eatery in Suncheon. I understand that this dish is usually served as a banchan but this eatery serves it as a main.

And it was lovely.

Cold, crunchy, salty, spicy, slightly sweet. So many different tastes in one dish. But salty predominates.

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