Wednesday, January 30, 2013


What greeted me at Daegwallyeong (대관영, 大關領) after an afternoon of heavy snowfall and traffic jam was a snow-covered "winter wonderland". I have a great time playing with snow. Walking through waist-deep snow was one of those awesome experience. Tasting snow was another. Pardon me if I sound more excited than I should be. I have not seen so much soft untouched snow in my life. I could have taken more pictures of the snow landscapes at Daegwallyeong if not for the limited daylight. Severe coldness was not a concern.

Song River frozen and covered in thick snow. (Click for larger image)

The snowy road to Samyang Ranch. Wind turbines of Daegwallyeong at far end. (Click for larger image)

The beautiful snow landscape made the freezing temperature bearable. I would have roam further if not for the dimming daylight.

After an afternoon of snowfall, the "aged" land looks like it was "rejuvenated".

Sunday, January 27, 2013


What was supposed to be a half hour bus journey from Gangneung to Hoenggye took 2.5 hours due to heavy snowfall in the mountainous region of Daegwallyeong. West-bound traffic came almost to a standstill as the road conditions deteriorated. Many drivers aborted their trip and made a u-turn back to Gangneung. Despite being caught in a terrible traffic jam, I still like snowing day. It was one of my wishes that when it snows, I want to be at Daegwallyeong.

Snowfall intensified. Visibility dropped as snow started to pile up on the road.

Snow is what winter is all about to me

When it snows, I want to be at Daegwallyeong

Thursday, January 24, 2013

희망 . 일출

Sunrise at Jeongdongjin : 7:39am

One hour before sunrise, thousands of people had already gathered at the beach. The tide was rising. Once in while, people who were too caught up in taking photos by the sea had their shoes drenched in cold sea water when a sudden freak wave swept high up the shore. Although wind was not as strong as the day before, temperature was at a freezing -12°C.

Weather forcast predicted a cloudy sky on New Year's Day and sunrise might be blocked. The unfavourable forcast deterred no one. Everyone remained hopeful. As seconds ticked away, the crowd at the beach swelled.

Date: 1 Jan 2013, Time: 7:16am

Looking east, the horizon started to brighten. Pinkish hue spread slowly across the sky over Donghae (East Sea). As the time of sunrise approached, an image of an omega sunrise appeared in my mind in anticipation. At 7:39am, any hope of seeing the sunrise was squashed. The crowd started to disperse as the greyish sky brighten in a new year.

Date: 1 Jan 2013, Time: 7:42am

Hope is like sunrise, it is always there regardless of good or bad day, if you see it or not. Happy 2013!

Monday, January 21, 2013

썬 크루즈

Sun Cruise sitting high and dry on the coastal cliff of Jeongdongjin.

To get to Sun Cruise Resort and Yacht from Jeongdongjin Beach, I could only walk. Public transport was out of question as there was only one bus (Bus 109) going to the resort every two hours. Flagging down a taxi was also not easy as empty taxis were few and far between.

The slope leading to the resort was steep, probably about 50° gradient. I could feel the full force of gravity acting down on me as I struggled my way up. The fortunate thing was the distance to overcome was not too long.  It took about 15-20 minutes to get to the top but it was worthwhile effort.

Entrance fee for non-resort guest is 5,000won. The recommended course - panaromic view of the East Sea, bird's eye view of Jeongdongjin from the Observation Deck and a leisure walk around the sculpture park. I was most interested in the Observation Deck. I wanted to look down from the highest point of the ship.

Sun Cruise is 165 metres in length, 45 metres in height and 30,000 tons in weight. A 1:1 replica of a passenger cruise liner.

Looking out at the East Sea from the garden inside the resort

The Observation Deck is at level 9. To get to the open deck or the Observation Deck, I have to first negotiate through a souvenir shop. For people who are afraid of height, the open deck is not a place to be, because the only barrier that separates you from the cliff below is the guardrails. But for me, standing at such an elevated height and close to the edge of the ship with absolutely nothing to obstruct my view, gave me an adrenaline rush.

Looking down on the yacht-like restaurant from the open deck of Sun Cruise. People with acrophobia, beware.

This is the view that I was there for - bird's eye view of Jeongdongjin.

The bow of the ship. It was almost like the ship was sailing across the East Sea.

The revolving Sky Lounge is at level 10 but it is not served by lift. You have to walk up two levels (there is an intermediate level between level 9 and 10) of stairs to get there. It is an ideal place to sit down, enjoy a cup of coffee and the wonderful view outside without feeling acrophobic.

The bridge of the ship was actually a revolving sky lounge.

Inside the sky lounge. The window seats with breathtaking view were all taken up.

Leaving Sun Cruise and on my way out.

After sunset (about 5:30pm), temperature dipped sharply. Staying too long outdoor was just too chilly for comfort. So it was back to accommodation for me to "thaw" a  bit before going back to Jeongdongjin Beach for the "New Year Party". I did not stay for the countdown.

Countdown was done in my room with TV on. At midnight, I looked out the windows as fireworks lit up the night sky of Jeongdongjin. I could not remember when was the last time I saw fireworks on New Year's Day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Jeongdongjin (정동진, 正東津) is a seaside town that lies directly east of Seoul and hence its name.

Train is not supposed to be the landmark of Jeongdongjin but I love how this train cabin is placed just beside the sea.

I arrived at Jeongdongjin on the last day of 2012 after 6 hours of flight (from Singapore) and 5 hours of bus ride. It was a cold day with temperature plummeting below -5°C. Wind was strong and so were the waves. It has been quite a long time since I last saw such a wide open sea. I could feel my heart opening up and cool fresh air flowing in. All trapped stuffiness has found a way out finally.

The sound of waves pounding the shore was melodious to my ears.

The sky was clear blue a day before a brand new year, so there was good chance I might witness new year's sunrise the next morning. However, weather forecast was not that optimistic. Overcast sky was predicted. There was abundant sunlight in the afternoon but no warmth was felt while walking by the beach. My hands froze once they were out of gloves for a while.

The yacht-like building is a sashimi restuarant and a cafe

The tide was rising and the rolling waves were pushing nearer and nearer to the shore. Jeongdongjin got more and more crowded as it got closer and closer to night. People, like me, were gathering at Jeongdongjin to bid farewell to 2012 and welcome the first sunrise of 2013. Accommodation at this seaside town was not easy to come by during this peak period and if you do find one, the room rates would be three times its non-peak rates.

The train is not part of Jeongdongjin Station. It is a museum under constuction and can be found beside the hourglass park.

Jeongdongjin is famous for its huge hourglass and Sun Cruise Resort and Yacht but I have taken a liking to Jeongdongjin Station - a train station by the seaside. There is nothing unique about the station itself but when you look seaward, the scenic view is captivating, good enough as a filming site for Korean drama.

A stone tablet at Jeongdongjin Station with a poem about Jeongdongjin inscribed.

The turquoise sea and blue sky made beautiful backdrop for the sculptures, pinetrees and other man-made structures found within the station compound. There was a big crowd at the station but most were tourists not passengers. The station master did not restrict people from going down to the track unless a train was approaching. The row of colourful toy windmills beside the track turned vigorously as wind blew strongly.

One of the few sculptures found at Jeongdongjin Station.

I like this view - so exhilarating.

Jeongdongjin Station is at the direct east of Gyeongbok Palace and Gwanghwamun (not exactly though).

It was difficult to stay outdoor for a very long time as the cold wave was in the midst of building up to its peak. However, there were a few more things to do for the rest of the day - visit Sun Cruise at sunset, watch the performance in front of the hourglass and fireworks at midnight.

The locomotive is part of the "Time Museum" (정동진박물관), a new landmark at Jeongdongjin.

The tail of "Time Museum" which ends very close to the sea.

Sun Cruise - a resort built like a passenger liner, overseeing the whole of Jeongdongjin.

The landmark of Jeongdongjin - the huge hourglass. It would be turned over when the clock hit twelve.

The bridge which spans over the frozen Jeongdongjin Stream.

Performance to welcome 2013 in front of the huge hourglass.

Next stop: Sun Cruise Resort and Yacht

Bird's eye view of Jeongdongjin from the Sun Cruise.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


A traditional teahouse with very good ambience at Seongbuk. Also a former residence of a Korean poet.

An old residence of poet is just so different. Everything has a poetic touch to it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

서울의 겨울

Han River is partially frozen. Gangbuk is hazy again after a few days of clear sky. 

Snow-covered Hangang Park at Yeouido. It has not snowed in Seoul since last Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

추워도 너~무 추워

The temperature now is -11°C. Opening the window is like opening the door of a fridge. With such a long spell of cold wave, the blossoms this coming spring should be quite awesome.

This spell of cold wave is expected to end this Friday and snow is also forecast. Anyway, it's time to "hibernate" now.

Icy Han River (1 of 2)

Icy Han River (2 of 2)

겨울의 빛

My "search" for the winter lights ended with the Holdman Lighting Show at Paju Provence. This is how winter should be - snow, colourful lights and sub-zero temperature. Very cold, beautiful and serene.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

썰렁한 겨울

The sun has set and the lights at Wolmido were turned on to full brilliance. The winter night was cold and so was the business at the long row of seafront eating and drinking outlets.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

마법의 숲

When the lights was switched on at 5:30pm, the Garden of Morning Calm turned instantly into a magical forest. Going by the ooh and aah that resonated through the cold winter night, people were enchanted.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

멀어진 세상

The world seems so far away from 삼모퉁이 (a gallery and cafe) but that is just an illusion. A 20-minute walk down hill and you are back to it.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

도전 성공

I made it to the summit of Mt. Taebaek (1567m)! The temperature up there was about -20°C. The gimbap and orange juice inside my bag were all frozen. Despite four layers of clothing, the cold was still able to penetrate through like I was naked. I was not enjoying, I was enduring. Story is for another day. My face is still feeling the burning sensation, my body is aching and there is a 5-cent size blister at the back of my right heel.