The weekend trip to SunchangIn the weekends of May, with warm winds, it would not be polite to this weather if you stay at home and just study. How about escaping this complex and stuffy daily life to the mountains and fields, even just this weekend? There is a great weekend travel destination waiting for you, not far from Jeonju. Why don’t you go away for the weekend with me? It is okay for even just a day. Let’s leave your problems behind and set out on a trip without a second thought. Do you have no plans or information for the trip? Then, just follow me. I will guide you to Sunchang.
-Where is Sunchang?
Sunchang is famous for population longevity and gochujang, Korean traditional red pepper paste. It is located in the mountain regions of the Noryeong mountain range, so there are magnificent views with high mountains like when hang-gliding. Also, there are great and small rivers like Sunjin and Jeokseong. These rivers have a great volume of water and pure water quality. Therefore, the farmlands are also fertile and rich. In a word, Sunchang is great vacation spot with ideal conditions. You can imagine the landscape paintings when you visit there.
-How can we go to Sunchang?
Sunchang is located not far from Jeonju, so you can take an intercity bus. It takes about 90 minutes to go there. There are buses which leave for Gangcheon Mountain, too. If you want to visit Gangcheon first, you can take these buses. You can get a lot of information about Sunchang on the internet site named Culture and Tourism of Sunchang (http://tour.sunchang.go.kr/). As you know, the information for the trip is really important, so you’d better get help on an internet site like this. Also, this site provides travel brochures via offline mail. It will be a big help to you to travel to Sunchang.
- Sunchang Pepper Paste Folk Village
This village is one of the tourist attractions and it is not far from Sunchang Terminal. The village is built for the keeping alive of traditional pepper paste as a traditional recipe. As a result, many masters have moved into this village and have passed the secret recipes down. The masters do their best to make the scientific pepper paste sanitarily and deliciously, following the demand of modern people with the traditional way. These masters’ houses are built as hanok, Korean traditional style houses, so you can appreciate the beauty of hanoks at the same time. The hanok and crocks for pepper paste lining the street may make you feel as if you just arrived to the Joseon Dynasty period with a time machine. If you visit Sunchang Pepper Paste Folk Village, which is protecting the traditional village and taste, you will want to just sit anywhere and eat bibimbap in a large brass bowl only with pepper paste, no other seasoning.
The Pepper Paste Experience Facilities located inside the village provide the program for making pepper paste to visitors. If you pay some costs, you can make red pepper paste in the traditional way and you can bring home what you made. I recommend to you to experience this program while you're at the village. But, you must reserve and inquire beforehand, because the experience is possible when 10 people reserve at the same time.
Every October, the Pepper Paste Festival is held in this village. Not only many nationals but also many people around the world have participated in this festival. The festival is not very long, but every year many tourists visited it. Moreover, it has come into the spotlight socially and culturally. The fifth festival will be held October 8-11 for three days. Why don’t you visit with your family and friends?
There is also the Pepper Paste Museum across from the entrance of the village. Not only the history and origin of pepper paste but also the process of making the pepper paste is shown in this museum, with many videos and experiences. The museum is not big, but the contents are quite substantial and meaningful. It will help you to understand the process of making pepper paste and the scientific effects. Be sure to visit the museum. It won't let you down.
-Walking barefoot in Gangcheon County Park
Gangcheon Mountain, 583.7m high, was previously called Yongcheon Mountain because the mountain looks like a dragon ascending to heaven with its tail wagging. It is also called Honam (the southwestern region of Korea)’s Geumgang because it looks like Geumgang Mountain and is beautiful like Geumgang. If you buy your ticket and enter the park, you can see a great view of a waterfall first. It is called Byeong-poong Waterfall, which means folding screen. It is one of the attractions which made visitors emit exclamations. The falling water from a height 40m will give you a cool feeling. There is a legend that if a criminal walks through this waterfall, all of his crimes will wash away, but the entrance is prohibited for natural protection.
When you walk past the waterfall, you can find the Bare Foot Path. It extends from Byeong-poong Waterfall to Gujanggun Waterfall. The length of the path is about 2.5km. The path consists of smooth soil like red clay, so you can walk safely and easily all year round. Its moist and smooth feeling will catch your fancy. You can feel like you become part of nature.
You can see a school of fish at the valley side when you walk along the path. It has a greener color of water, and it is the basin. There are two basins in Gangcheon called Oknyeodam, which means the spot to bath for angels. It doesn’t look so deep, but actually it is a really deep spot where the depth is fully over two meters. It is prohibited to swim there.
After the basin, finally you can find Hyeonsu Bridge, a pedestrian overpass of Gangcheon. Its height is 50m, the length is 75m and the bridge is connected from the observatory to Sinsheon Pinnacle. It will be a terrifying bridge to people who have acrophobia (fear of heights). Your legs can tremble even just arriving in the observatory. It is your choice whether you cross or not.
You will reach Gujanggun Waterfall after you go down from the observatory and walk along the Bare Foot Path. There are three waterfalls which are 120 meters high. This waterfall has a legend like this: A-hup, a general of the ancient kingdom Mahan, was defeated in the war. He decided to jump to his death at this waterfall, but its stirring sprit moved his mind to live. After then, the general fought again and won in the war. You will feel sad when you must leave there, because you already heavily drank in its rhythmical sounds.
-The food of Sunchang
In Late Koryo Dynasty, Lee Seong-gyae, the first king of the Joseon Dynasty, visited his teacher Muhak, a Buddhist master. He was very hungry and he asked a farming family to help with his lunch. But the poor landlord had no side dishes, so the landlord gave him just red pepper paste with boiled rice. Lee was disappointed but he was really hungry, so he started eating. Beyond his expectations, it was much more delicious than any other side dishes. After that, Lee became the first king of the Joseon Dynasty. He commanded to lay red pepper paste at his feet. This is the story of the origin of the famous Sunchang red pepper paste. When you visit Sunchang, you must have a taste of the Korean table d'hote. If you have a taste, you can understand the old saying that ‘the taste of pepper paste determines the taste of foods.’ Sunchang is far from the sea and is surrounded by mountains and rivers, so residents usually eat salty and dry foods. Of course there are fermented foods with pepper paste. Therefore, Sunchang’s Korean table d'hote provides simple meals like vegetables pickled in soy sauce, salted fish, foods boiled down in soy sauce or other seasonings and stews more than abundant meals. In comparison with other regions, there are mostly small dishes which are full of pepper paste. You may be satisfied with just that pepper paste like Lee Seong-gye.
In late March, when I visited Sunchang, the spring was coming there. The weather was getting warmer and becoming suitable for traveling. This spring, let’s go to Sunchang together. Season your youthfulness with traveling!
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