Do you remember what happened on July 7th, 2011? Korea won a bid to host the Winter Olympic game in Pyeongchang. It was a huge triumph made of relentless challenge, support from whole nation and wish that moved IOC members.
On Feb 9th, 2018, Pyeongchang will draw a lot of attention from globe. Koreans as well as foreigners will gather around the sites or in front of TV. Expecially for those who are on the sites will spend some extra time on looking around the area before opening the game. What are the attractions in Pyeongchang that we can introduce? Here they are.
Daegwanryeong, the entrance of Taebaek mountains, is well known for sheep ranches, plantation over high mountains and ski resorts. Ranches are as much exotic as Swiss and Austria because it is not easy to see ranches over high mountains. Samyang and Yangtae ranches are the popular ones, however, they are slightly different.
Let’s go to Samyang ranch first. Take Yeongdong highway to Gangreung and exit at Heuinggye IC. Then, make a left turn, and pass a three-way intersection. Go straight and turn right at the next corner. Keep driving 8 more kilometers.
Samyang ranch is the largest one in Asia, located 1,140 meters high from sea level and 1,983 square meters in size. The ranch runs shuttle bus, which is nonstop to the peak. However when coming down, you can get off at either of four stops and take a walk. Shuttle bus doesn’t run in winter. Admission fee is 7,000 won for adult and 5,000 won for children. There are milk cow, sheep, Tajo, rabbit and goat in the ranch. Among them, the flock of milk cow and sheep are the ‘best’. The perfect season for visiting is spring and summer when they are all outside. If you visit in winter you’ll see them in their cages.
On the side way to the peak, there is a windmill electric generator complex. It looks simple but ‘literally’ generates 67% of whole electricity in Gangreung. There are TV drama sets and movie sets such as trees shown in the movie, Love Story. A fish called Hwangtae Deokjang is very well known. If you walk down from the top, you can’t miss anything special.
(Source: Korea Tourism Organization)
Next, let’s move on to Yangtae ranch. It is located 805 meters high and 200,000 square meters in size. Land size is just 1/100 of Samyang ranch but it is as famous as Samyang ranch. Although it is smaller than that, it is way more comfortable to take a walk the whole area, watching sheeps. It is also close from Samyang ranch, which is just 12 kilometers away, so you can stop by after another. The sheep goes back in their indoor cage at 4 so you’d better manage your time to see them.
You can feed any animal in Samyang ranch but in Yangtae ranch you can only feed sheep because as you can see from the word ‘Yangtae’, which means ‘the flock of sheep’, they have only sheep. Instead, there is no admission fee in Yangtae ranch. There is only feeding fee, 3,500 won for adult and 3,000 won for children.
Unlike Samyang ranch, there is no shuttle bus in Yangtae ranch. It is long enough to take a walk and look around. You will find a bigger hut at the top of the hill, which was on the movie, ‘A man who has gone to Mars’.
By the way, you don’t have to worry about getting bitten when feeding hay to milk cow and sheep. They don’t have upper teeth so feed them freely.
If you have some knowledge of Korean history, you might recognize the Octagonal nine-story pagoda in Woljeong Temple was built in the early years of Goryeo dynasty. It is regarded as one of the greatest heritage in Korean history and the one that made its temple known throughout Korea. As Woljeong temple is a temple of name established in Ohdae mountain by Buddist monk Jajangyulsa, a number of people have visited the temple. If you want to visit here, take a bus at East Seoul bus terminal to Jinbu suburban bus terminal. Then take a bus toward Woljeong temple. If you drive, get on the Central express highway, and move over to the Yeongdong express highway. After you come off the highway at Jinbu IC, you are almost there.
In addition, Fir tree road also attracts tourists. The road has become known after it appeared in a mobile phone ads. It has become a ‘must’ go place in Pyeongchang now. Just typing ‘firs’ on the internet search engine, you’ll find Ohdae mountain firs forest. You’ll be overwhelmed with the forest with a full of fir trees. Firs are vulnerable to pollution, so it’s not easy to see them in cities. That makes them truly valuable.
To enter Firs road, you should get into Woljeong temple. With admission fee 3,000 won, you will find pavilions and octagonal nine story pagoda. Passing by pine trees at entrance gate of walk road, you will face firs road. Flowing stream will satisfy your all senses.
Fir trees grow by 40 meters high and 1.5 meters round. Firs here have grown to the highest. They don’t stretch out their branches very much so you can still find the pieces of sky and stream through them. Road is as straight forward as trees stand upright. You will feel more comfortable with them.
Sometimes, when you take a walk along the street with a deep thought, you might see a monk coming from the opposite side of you. Just greet him, slightly nodding your head with holding your hands together. It is a courtesy for you to greet first because you are visiting a temple.
Iljoomoon, which is a main gate of the temple, stands at the end of the fir tree road with a height of 800 meters. Mostly those who have no business here just go back the way they came. A writer inspired by the road said, “After walking a while, I got to Iljoomoon. I felt a present. As I turn back up the road, the road until just now was a past. I walk to the future from now.”
As the visitors have to walk on the same road when going back, so the expression above sounds really fit.
Everywhere in Pyeongchang is just nice for taking photos. One of the best photo zones is Herbnara. There are only herbs, not flower trees, however, it can be the most favorable photo zone.
For directions, after Myenon IC through Yeongdong express highway from Seoul, you’ll get to the area around Phynix park and Heungjeong valley. Well, from Gangreung, you should pass through Jangpyeong IC and get to Bongpyeong-myeon and Heungjeong valley. Admission fee is 7,000 won in summer and 5,000 won in winter. Infants with family are free of charge and a group of infants is 3,000 won regardless of the number of them. Herbnara opens at 9 and closes at 6. Latest entry is 4:30, so don’t be late!
When you pass by the ticket both after a bridge in valley, you will see welcoming signboard, written “Home of scents, Herbnara”. Amazed at hand paintings, you’ll enter the medieval age style of garden. The farm consists of eight themes. The first theme you will meet is a medieval garden. There are mini windmills, fountains and sculptures. They are very well harmonized with structures in the garden. You will definitely regret if you forget to bring either of digital camera or mobile phone camera.
After medieval garden, you’ll meet with Shakespeare garden following Cottage garden, Butterfly garden and Rock garden. If you move forward, you’ll get to a palette garden which is full of colorful flowers. If you turn back, you will see children’s garden. Suddenly you’ll feel the herbal scents while taking a look. Smell the herbal scents, they will refresh yourself.
Well, do you want to taste the herb? A restaurant named Jajaknamujib add herb in every food. They serve herbal tea, which makes you feel purified as well. They also have herbal ice cream, herbal bread and herbal jam.
There are still many things to do. You can learn the use of herb and herbal products in herbal museum and herbal crafts room. In the hope of multiple culture center Pyeonggang garden runs Turkish museum which shows Turkish crafts. You can watch Korean old animation in animation forest of animation museum. Once in a while, if you are lucky enough, you will see some concerts held by Lee munsae, Noh yeongshim, and Lee ruma on starlight stage in an open-air theater. The music which covers the whole garden will touch your ears and refresh your mind.