Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spleunking in Gosu Cave, and relaxing on Chungju Lake

    See more pictures of Gosu Cave and Chungju Lake here.

    These two spectacular sites make up one exciting and unforgettable tour of the North Chungcheong province. South of Seoul about two hours by bus or car, this region of Korea specializes in producing ginseng and tobacco. Within the Eastern part of this province lies the mountainous and rugged Danyang county.
   Witnessing "the eight views of Danyang" is a hard task for a one day trip from Seoul. But don't worry because many of the eight famous rocks and peaks can be seen on your drive through Woraksan National Park to Gosu Cave.You cannot miss Dodam Sambong (3 Peak Island) which represents Korea's love triangle between a man, his wife, and his mistress. This peak was by far my favorite view of Danyang and I wish there was more time in my day to have stopped here.
This picture was taken while aboard a ferry at Chungju Lake.
    Upon arriving to Gosu Cave there is little excitement. There is an ordinary ticket counter and a giant parking lot nestled at the foot of a small hill. After purchasing a ticket I was taken to a steep yet inspiring stone stairway. Finally at the top, the caves opening suddenly reveals the magnificent beauty that is hidden deep inside the earths surface. Gosu Gave bears thousands of stalactites and stalagmites lit up with a dim gold light. The views from inside are deceivingly beautiful. The picture to the left looks like a giant lake surrounded by gold reflections. But when one looks closer, the mind notices that there is simply a small opening in the cave about the size of a mini fridge.

Tons of fresh ginseng for sale around Gosu Cave.
    This cave is definitely not for those who are claustrophobic or out of shape. There is a very narrow walkway which guides you through to the other side of the mountain. Much of the time, I found myself forced to duck down and almost crawl through very narrow and low passageways. There are also numerous stairways, so be ready to do a little exercise while exploring this cave.
     After burning off some calories it was clearly time to take a break. Thank god the walk back down to the parking lot wound past many restaurants and stalls. I recommend purchasing some of the fresh ginseng root here, and eating some local traditional Korean food to restore your energy.

My new Korean family who hooked me up with soju and chesnuts!
     Chungju Lake is a perfect stop after visiting Gosu Gave. About thirty minutes away from Gosu, there are many areas to hop on a ferry and take a relaxing tour of the lake and surrounding areas. The ferry ride costs 10,000 won for a one hour ride. Get in the front of the line asap to beat the crowd, or else you will be stuck on the inside of the ferry boat with a less than stellar view.
     Many Koreans will be eating snacks and drinking soju as usual. My friend Andrea and I met a group of older Koreans who insisted on shoving steamed chestnuts and soju down our throats! After the second shot of soju I turned away to pay attention to the beautiful views of the lake.

A traditional Korean meal at Gosu Cave.
     Overall the trek to Chungju from Seoul is not too difficult for a beautiful day. Once on the lake you will feel completely relaxed and in awe at the surrounding beauty. Bring along some snacks and soju or makeoli for an even better ferry ride! Be prepared for a crazy ride home to Seoul in traffic. Our private bus driver gave up taking the highway and started winding down some crazy narrow roads. At one point we were whizzing through the middle of a farmers market and I could have stuck my hand outside and grabbed a pickle!

    Directions to Chungju Lake: I recommend taking some kind of tour for this day trip to save time. I went on an RAS Korea Branch Tour to this location. However, it isn't very difficult to take a bus from Seoul. Simply to to the biggest bus terminal nearest to you. Make sure to ask for a ticket to Chungju (in Hangul: 충주) not Cheongju: (청주)! This pronunciation mistake will cost you an extra hour and thirty minutes and a 14,000 won pay increase for a bus to the wrong place! Once at the bus terminal in Chungju be sure to go to the tourist information center to double check the bus number to the lake. Bus #301 leaves across the street from the bus terminal and will take 30 minutes for a lousy 950 won. You can also take a fifteen minute cab ride to the lake for around 20,000 won.

If you have any questions or comments about "Spleunking in Gosu Cave, and relaxing on Chungju Lake" please leave them in the comment box below or email them to goneseoulsearching@gmail.com.

Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at goneseoulsearching@gmail.com.

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Creative Commons License
Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at goneseoulsearching@gmail.com.
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