Wednesday, May 1, 2013

hwagae junction: a weekend away from it all

Spring is here! It sure took a while. Wonju, being up north and all, still has its chilly days, but here too the trees are blooming. 

In mid-April, the gang gathered in Gyeongnam for a weekend getaway in the countryside of Hwagae, just north of Hadong-gun. I met most of the group at Ginna's place in Jinju to crash Friday night. Jams & doodles ensued.

The funniest foot massager thing
A deck of Bali cards

The next morning, we took the two buses to get to the marketplace in Hwagae (화개장터).
The day was beautiful and hot, and the market was bustling.

Hahaha this kid 
Ummm.. Korea's stance on sex really confuses me. It seems to flip-flop (flap) between two extremes.
Oyster shucker shucking the biggest oysters ever
This man wanted a picture with Kat sooo badly
Celeb status
Cutest old halabujis and halmuni having a makgeolli hangout sesh
Lethal weapons at your family-friendly market
Demo model only
Selcas always

After perusing the busy marketplace, we started our walk towards the temple. It ended up being a longer trek than we had expected, but the views that flanked both sides of the road the whole way up were worth the trip.

Something about the church/cathedral in the hills reminded me of Lord of the Rings
Being silly
Everything was super green, even the spiders!
Erick hopped over to the other side of the river-creek
Hwagae has tea fields too!
The entire length of "blossom road" is lined with cherry blossom trees. I imagine it must've been even more beautiful when they were in full bloom the week before. 
One of the super western looking houses
Greenest tree
Village on the hill

Midway to the temple, we stumbled upon Planet 1020, a picturesque little cafe seemingly in the middle of nowhere. This spot is a Hwagae gem. Its interior is straight out of a decor magazine.

Love the stark white and blue
Super cool owner-barista, Mr. Min!

As the sun began to set, we said our goodbyes to Planet 1020 and continued on our temple-bound journey.

See the creepy looking scarecrow? Would scare more people away than birds I think.

Erick and I fell behind the crowd while taking pictures, but when I saw this in the distance, I knew my friends would be there.

An abandoned shell of a resort, it looked like they'd run out of funds while they were still constructing the building. 
Sad, ugly, and creepy... but cool to look at, as most abandoned buildings are.

J, Gins, and Tay. They made it all the way up to the roof at one point!
Giant teapot sculptures amidst the tea brush

We made it to the temple by sunset. The grounds were extensive and incredibly peaceful.

Saturday Night Feverin' Buddha?
These used to scare the living daylights out of me as a child. You see them at almost every temple.
Beautiful marbled roses
As we left, I saw this "bath" house... hm.
Giant hand sculpture pouring a cup of tea-flowers

After purchasing our goods from the market, we made our way to our "pension" (what Koreans call rented cottages/cabins/vacation houses here), which was truly far removed from anything and everything. Kevin, our forever-chef, got cooking.

Tay was our main-man-griller - look how serious he is about his job lol. And Erick is all-smiles as he warms up his hands.
Ugh, yummm. Want some of this right now!
Kev's yummy udon

Naturally, music followed dinner.

There was no light pollution where we were and the sky was a deep, deep black. 
We went star-gazing on the hill behind our pension - we could see so many!

We woke up to a beautiful morning the next day.

Jaimie's home-baked loaf

Just before our cabs into town arrived, it began to rain heavily. 
It was amazing to see both a clear sky and an equally alluring stormy sky, all in one morning.

Looking back on our property

Overall, an incredible weekend, away from city life, away from the sound of traffic, away from the neon lights. Couldn't have been more perfect! The return to Wonju was a four-bus trip from Hwagae to Hadong to Jinju to Daejeon to Wonju. Yikes. But again, entirely worth it. Such an amazing time with amazing people.

Lunch in Jinju

Next up, a honeymoon weekend on the beaches of Gangneung with my gal J.

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