EXPLORING KOREA: Korean Wave Express Train

by Aaron J JacksonCrabb, 02/02/2011


What do Dakgalbi, Makguksu, Nami and You-Seong all have in common? They are all a part of a one-day experience on board the Korean Wave Express Train on a trip organized by Korea4Expats. Made up of expats from all over the world (Africa, Asia, Europe and North America) our group joined the train bound for Chuncheon city in Gangwon-do on the last Saturday of January. (Thanks to the size of our group, we also had an English-speaking guide).

Over the next eight hours this sightseeing day trip visited the romantic island of Nami, sat down at a table along Myeong-dong dakgalbi street to enjoy the popular fiery cuisine, learned the process of pressing buckwheat noodles, enjoyed a delicious cup of coffee while viewing the city from on top of Mount Gubong and finished the day at the House of Literature.

During the two-hour ten-minute train ride from Seoul station to Gapyeong station all passengers were entertained by three-female traditional musicians and a singer then the quick hands of a young magician, followed by a balloon twisting white faced mime and a reenactment of the famous ‘first kiss scene’ on the Korean television drama “Winter Sonata.”

From the train station,Audemars Piguet Replica Watches we boarded a bus coach for the 20-30 minute drive to the Nami Island ferry. On this day, the ferry traveled at four knots through the thick ice covered waters of the Bukhan River. Departing the ferry, we crossed beneath the white gates stopping briefly to read the warning sign about wild ostriches living on the island. The island is described as a place where human beings, nature and wildlife share an open space enjoying harmony and peacefulness away from civilization during all seasons.

Throughout our fifty-five minutes on the island the only wildlife we came across were black-eared squirrels and magpies. Happily we photographed, walked around and visited the Song Museum with its one hundred and twenty-five different instruments from twenty-three countries. Stopping briefly at the location of the “first kiss” on the famous Korean television series “Winter Sonata” and first kiss-bridge with its numerous glass sculptures. Then we wandered past the amazing outdoor half moon shaped UNICEF eco stage theatre before finding the ginkgo tree lined walking path. Finally we stopped at the “Winter Sonata” photo-gallery before running out of time and heading back to the wharf.

Next on the itinerary was lunch at a restaurant on the famous Dakgalbi Street of Chuncheon (where you can choose from about 25 restaurants all feature the city’s signature ‘spicy chicken’ dish). The cost for each of us was about W10,000 (not including drinks). The restaurant had been pre-selected for the train tour group – the prices on the street range from W8,000 to W12,000.

After lunch, we again boarded our bus and headed for the Makguksu Museum where visitors can enjoy the experience of kneading, extracting, rinsing and tasting fresh buckwheat (makguksu) noodles at the museums’ experience hall. As you arrive on the second floor, we were introduced to an ajumma, who partially explained the process – more through charades than words. She gave those of us who wanted to ‘cook’ some buckwheat flour, then told us to knead it into a dough ball with a bit of lukewarm water. Eventually, we got to press the dough through the extracting machine (a more challenging process than you might image and one that afforded the spectators and participants alike a good laugh). That done, she showed us how long to cook the fresh noodles, how to properly rinse them in icy tap water and then how to properly season them. Everyone had a chance to eat some of the freshly cooked buckwheat (makguksu) despite still being pretty full from all the dakgalbi we had eaten for lunch.

From the museum, Replica Patek Philippe Watches we drove south along route forty-six for a view of Chuncheon from Mount Gubong. As you walk through Santorini’s Café you will immediately take notice of the magnificent mountain ranges surrounding the city. Most of us spent a little time outside before retiring into the Café to enjoy a bowl of gelato or a piping hot cup of coffee, taking advantage of the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city to admire the marvelous view.

On our way to the Chuncheon Rail Station, we stopped at the Literary Village of Kim You-Jeong. Unfortunately for foreign visitors, everything is in Korean only, except one page of a 4x6 pamphlet at the entrance that lets us know a little about Kim You-Jeong. Although he was only 30 years old when he died in 1937, this remarkable author wrote over 30 pieces of work, mostly recounting the lives of ordinary country people.

Within 10 minutes of leaving The Literary Village we were waiting to board the Korean Wave Express Train to arrive back in Seoul at 19:20.

Photo of Kim You-Jeong House of Literature by  Aaron J JacksonCrabb

 

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