Thursday, May 2, 2013

“Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling"

My venture to my first flower festival was quite a victorious travel day. After taking 3 different buses to what appeared to be the middle of nowhere I finally arrived at my destination: the Gurye Sansuyu Festival. This festival takes place at the base of the breathtaking mountains of a popular national park, Jirisan. Every where you look there are stunning views and yellow sansuyu blossoms (a type of dogwood well-known in Asian traditional medicine, 
also made into liquors, teas, etc.)There was a variety of street foods to try, different fresh teas to sample, live music and parades, crafts and exhibits, and overall a very fun festive atmosphere! I loved it!

The following weekend was the Nonsan Strawberry Festival. Nonsan is Korea's largest strawberry producer. After a couple hour train ride I arrived in this little city to meet up with my group that would be traveling with for the weekend. There are several different groups online that have trips that all types of foreigners(teachers, students, etc) and Koreans alike join for weekend adventures. First, we went strawberry picking. I have honestly never eaten so many strawberries in my life, or strawberries that tasted that good. They are seriously delicious. Every single one is perfect, sweet, and sent from strawberry heaven. It was absolutely impossible to resist eating tons of them while picking! We also got a little container to take with us!
We headed back to the festival for more strawberry treats, live music performances, festival foods, strawberry art and exhibits, a petting zoo, and several vendors of strawberry soaps, juices, jams!
the best ever, seriously ever
The following day we awoke for a breathtaking sunrise hike to an incredible temple, Hyangiram, "one of the four Buddhist hermitages where the faithful come to pray." After an extremely steep incline and countless stairs we reached this enchanted candle-lit temple. It was truly captivating: Buddhist chants echoed through the air, the devoted bowed inside, and the panoramic vista of the the sea awaiting one of the best sunrise views in Korea.
Several moments later, I continued my trek to the peak of the mountain.Upon arriving to the top, we had some time before the sunrise to savor the early morning glow of the ocean, mountains, and islands as far as the eye could see. It was a spectacular morning. After capturing the view from the top I descended back to the temple to marvel at it in the sunlight that peaked through the clouds that morning, sample the pure spring temple water, and meander up tiny paths to other small temples and shrines.  

Later that day, we went to Yeosu. A seaside city host to the 2012 World Expo. We first crossed a walkway along the breakwater out to Odongo Island. This island was carpeted in red camellia flowers. The trees were in full bloom creating an overall gorgeous flowery wonderland. There were also pathways for further exploration on this little island to cliff sides, a cave, and a lighthouse. We had some time to grab lunch in the city before we were off to our final destination of the weekend: the pink azalea mountain.

It was so gorgeous and it felt totally amazing to be doing such an intense hike. My legs were rejoicing with happiness. This particular hike was quite the strenuous one, but so rewarding. Took me back to my New Zealand days for a bit. Afterwards, I felt so accomplished and just great. At the base of the mountain, I separated from the group to go home and made a mad dash to the train station. A truly classic travel moment: running to the station and down the platform to jump on the train. I just love it! The weekend concluded with an enjoyable ride gazing out the window at the country side filled with cherry blossoms and stunning scenery. 

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