Sunday, January 18, 2009


I crossed the 38 parallel yesterday. No, I was not in North Korea but it was quite near to the border. I was at Gwangwon Province, Hwacheon County (화천군, 華川郡) for the Sancheoneo Ice Festival. Hwacheon is to the north of Chuncheon. It should be quite close to the border because there were quite a number of off-duty soldiers walking in the town. As for Sancheoneo (산천어, 山川魚), it is a species of Trout that spawns in the Hwacheon River. Besides seeing and playing with ice and snow, one of the festival highlights is fishing for Sancheoneo beneath the frozen Hwacheon River.

To get to Hwacheon, I took the Hwacheon-bound bus at the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (also known as Guui Dong Bus Terminal) which is located beside Gangbyeon Station (Line 2). One-way ticket costs 12,600won and the journey took almost 3 hours. The bus stopped along the way to drop and pick up passengers. If it is a direct bus, the journey would probably take only 2 hours. The view up north is supposed to be quite scenic because of the mountains and rivers. But on the day of my trip, the sky was misty and there was a lot of condensation on the bus window so I didn't quite get to enjoy the view.

As the bus was making its way to Hwacheon, I saw one big rock erected by the roadside with the words '38선입니다' engraved on it. It means I have crossed the 38th parallel after passing that. It was a good feeling knowing that I have crossed that psychological line without even having to step foot on DMZ. DMZ is one place in Korea that I will never want to visit because it reminds me of human stupidity in its extreme form. Anyway, the road to Hwacheon was gently sloping up. I was imagining myself to be a Sancheoneo swimming my way up the stream to the clear water of Hwacheon River.

My bus left Seoul at 9:50am and reached Hwacheon at 12:45pm. At the bus terminal, there was a big festival map to show me the way to the various festival sites. There was also a big banner that hang across the road which showed the direction. My first stop was the indoor Asia Ice and Lights Plaza (아시아빙등광장). The ticket costs 5,000won which also includes admission to the outdoor World Winter City Plaza (세계겨울도시광장) located some distance away. I also got a 3,000 voucher in return which I could spend at the festival fair or any shop in Hwacheon. Effectively, the admission fee was only 2,000won. It was so worth it.

The Asia Ice and Lights Plaza is like one big freezer but not a very big one. Since it was my first time seeing ice sculptures at such a scale, I was really excited about it. The coolest ice sculpture is the replica of Gyeonghoeru (The famous two-storey pavillion that sits in the middle of a pond in Gyeongbokgung). The building can change into different colours which makes it very beautiful to look at from any angle. For amusement, there are two slides which visitors can have fun sliding down on. I tried sliding down one slide but I didn't go down as fast I as I would like. I guess jean is not slippery enough a material for the slide. Since the place is not very big, it only took me slightly more than half an hour to complete my visit.

My next stop was the World Winter City Plaza (세계겨울도시광장). I shall write about it in my next post. Meanwhile, below are the photos taken in the Asia Ice and Lights Plaza.

A replica of Gyeonghoeru (경회루, 慶會樓) in Gyeongbok Palace.

The ice Gyeonghoeru can change into different colours.

Ice sculptures of duck and fish in the pond of Gyeonghoeru.

A big ice cauldron at the centre of exhibit hall.

An ice pavillion on top of a small hill made up of ice blocks.

A colourfully lited ice slide.

Sliding down the ice slide. Its a favourite with both children and adults alike.

Another ice slide. Sliding out from a canon mouth.

Inside a mini igloo but I didn't feel a bit like an Eskimo.

Looking through an opening framed by blocks of ice.

An ice dinosaur glowing in blue light.

An ice Triceratop glowing in green light.

A choochoo train in cool lights. The last sculpture I saw before exiting.


  1. wow... looks damn cool! ^^

    original time stamp: 19 January 2009 05:31

  2. if u have not left, we cld have gone there together ^^

    original time stamp: 19 January 2009 07:06

  3. wow~~ it's awesome... *put it on my list...gotta go there this winter hahaha*

    original time stamp: 19 January 2009 08:56

  4. u have until next tuesday before the festival closes for this winter. so i guess you should be going there this weekend.

    original time stamp: 19 January 2009 19:15