Located about an hour and a half from Seoul, Cheongpyeong Lake offers the chance to truly get away from it all and be at peace with nature. Complete with green mountains, traditional Korean houses, a beach / open field, and of course Cheongpyeong Lake, there’s plenty available for a group.
The group in question (and the group sponsoring this trip) was Club Symposia, a group of mostly Koreans hailing from the foodservice, journalism, and educational industries. Their aim is to become an important channel for exchanging “high quality information on the Food & Culture industry” to promote the globalization of Korean food. A number of foreigners were invited, and I learned about it through Korea4Expats.com, which has served as an excellent source of information about and events around Korea. Thanks to the aforementioned organizers / sponsors for a wonderful event!
My day started at 6:00am on a Saturday morning – and I groaned… more than a little bit… Me getting up early voluntarily on a weekend is not something I do easily, but the bus to Cheongpyeong Lake left at 7:45am and there’s a subway ride to take as well. In any case, I arrived on time at the Hyundai Department Store (yes, the same Hyundai that makes cars makes lots of other things), and left on a bus with a handful of other expats and about 20 Koreans. The other bus had a similar ratio, I believe. After an hour and a half bus ride, we arrived at a building near the lake, which served as both a brief resting place and a welcome center of sorts near the Cheongpyeong Dam.
Hundreds of wine bottles (and one plastic bottle) stacked together to make an interesting scene.
Our noble steed – also known as the ferry making our trip to Sunday Beach possible.
After a brief respite and touring the welcome center, we found our way to the ferry – the way to Sunday Beach, where all of our activities would take place. A 20 kilometer (12.4 mile) ferry ride took us from Cheongpyeong Lake (which splits into the North Han river and the Hongcheon river) about an hour to reach our final destination, although the ride was quite enjoyable. You really begin to take in the sights of the river after a few minutes – complete with the aforementioned green mountains, some newer buildings, a few houses built alongside the river, and waterskiers.
The crowd on board the top deck of the ferry – also the best place to see the sights or enjoy some conversation.
Plenty of places to rent a boat or otherwise enjoy the river along the way.
Just one of the several waterskiers seen while ferrying down the river.
After landing at Sunday Beach, the first of many gifts were offered – a hat supporting Korean football (that’s soccer to Americans!). After settling down into chairs underneath a tent, we were welcomed by several of the organizers / sponsors, then informed of a slight schedule change. The free time and scavenger hunt (which had been planned for after lunch) would begin shortly, since the food was taking a little longer to prepare – quite acceptable considering the amount of dishes to prepare. I always wondered how Mom made everything on Thanksgiving…
While out and about, I realized how sociable Koreans and expats can be. While most Koreans and expats tended to clump together, I noticed several from each group going out of their way to socialize with the other group. This free time coincided nicely with the next event.
The scavenger hunt, as it was explained, was more like a treasure hunt. Get out into the field (partially untouched land, partially an overlook to the river), enjoy walking around the land, and bring back small orange or blue pieces of paper for prizes. Hidden under rocks or in tree branches, it was like an adult Easter egg hunt – and a bit more difficult than you think. You’d think finding orange or blue colored paper in the midst of the greens of browns of mostly untouched land would be easy, right? Wrong – especially when folded up small, hidden in non-obvious places, and so on – I loved it. I ended up finding four, by the way 🙂
The view from near the river – complete with green mountains and overhanging trees.
The look down one way…
…and the look down the other. The lady is pointing to some Korean pancakes (see the list of foods below)
Barbecued pork being cooked (and cut into bite-sized pieces with scissors).
Lunch was spectacular – possibly the most Korean food I’ve seen in one place (outside of perhaps a buffet line). Dozens of dishes and several different beverages (see the list below) left me full and enjoying life:
- Steamed rice (a part of any proper Korean meal – morning, noon, or night)
- Several kinds of kimchi (fermented and spiced vegetables that Korea is famous for)
- Wild vegetables collected from around the mountain area
- Country style sausage with Korean seasoning
- Grilled fresh fish
- Barbecued pork (my personal favorite here in Korea)
- Rice cakes
- Several kinds of Korean pancakes (including pumpkin, fish, mushroom, and lotus roots)
- Several different kinds of fruits
- Several different kinds of Korean wine (including a rice wine, and a plum wine)
Next up was giving out prizes to those who played in the scavenger hunt. The ones with the most got to pick first, although the assortment of boxes were various sizes – and all wrapped. I was given the clue to avoid the biggest box, so I chose a medium-sized one. It ended up being a very nice tea set:
Other gifts included a cup set… and a bra and panties – won by a guy no less! The big box, in case you were wondering, held this set of items:
A wire top hat and long smoking pipe! I have NO idea what it’ll be used for, but it’ll certanly be a good conversation starter for this guy 🙂
A little later on, we took the ferry across the river to the area with the Korean traditional houses. Here’s a few pictures:
Although the structures are over 200 years old, some of the furnishings inside certainly aren’t. It’s sort of comforting to know that one can be traditional without giving up all the comforts of modern life…No telling where the TV plugs in, however – I didn’t look that closely.
A natural spring from the mountain – very clean 🙂
Later on, we began the process of wrapping up the afternoon and returning to the ferry towards our buses. This process took a bit of time, as we weren’t ready for the day to end! I look forward to any events organized by these groups I may be invited to in the future (Jackie, Mr. Noh?? Hint, hint!).