Thursday, December 12, 2013

12 Dec 2013 -8 C Heavy snow and a day in Suwon

Starting point of our trek
Beyond the ticket office - steps and more steps

We reached Suwon after a 60 minute ride on the subway ( 1720 won). After some difficulty, we located the bus stop which was at the far left corner of the train station and information counter ( if you are facing the road ). Bus 11 ( or 13  ) took us to Padalwan stop, we were started our walk along the fortress.

The start of the trail is at the left side of the Padalwan Gate, its steep flight of steps visible from the road level. Entry to the trail was 1000 won each , its ticket office at the start of the steps.

Are we there yet ? Yet more steps

Signs of weather changing that morning

Suwon town from the top of the fort

Our first stop on the fort

It was a challenging climb up and felt never ending. Suwon was shining in the sun and the air was crisp and sky was clear. After a hundred odd steps, we followed the walls of the fort, taking in the scenery at various check points.

Yeonpo Balbi in Suwon - great value !

Beeg ribs

Honghwamun was to be my marker for our galbi lunch but the beef bbq place was no were to be seen. We broke off from the fort and ended up in a shop, hoping some kind folks could give us directions.

It was in Suwon we understood Korean hospitality. Due to the  difficulty in communication, the shopkeeper who first invited us to the warmth of his shop drove us down the block . Not only did he deposit us at Yeonpo Galbi, he told the shop that these guests from Singapore were there to eat. We could not thank him enough!

Yeonpo Galbi

Yeonpo galbi specialty was Korean beef ribs ( 33 000 won x 2 ).  In spite of the busy crowd, a waitress cooked for us, periodically checking that we did not burn our food. She even cut it to bite size!

The beef was well seasoned and tender and every bite succulent. Together with the many plates of bachan, we were in for a big feast.  Barely 5 minutes into our meal, it snowed heavily and in the warmth of the restaurant, the snow scape was a picture of serene white. It was an enjoyable meal in every aspect.

Just a word about Yeonpo – for the uninitiated, eating was done sitting on the ondol floor. It was a difficult situation because my knees were more or less busted from the climbing and walking. It made getting up difficult!

Outside our lunch place - weather takes a turn

Brown grass gives way to snow

white is the color of the rest of the fault

Snow got heavier and we could not proceed

Near the shooting range

Too heavy snow and impossible to proceed

Make fun while the sky snows

We buttoned up and braved the snow to march towards Yeonmundae. But by, Suwon Hwasong fortress was covered with a thick blanket of fluffy white. We could hardly see ahead of us. What a big difference a couple of hours made! 

Snow has a special magic both on adults and kids. While I shrieked with delight at big flecks floating down, kids had snow fights all over. A couple in school uniforms appeared with sleds and slid down the slopes.  Men came out of our vehicles and made snowman and snow bombs. If there is one thing that makes everyone stop to enjoy nature, this is it!

Archery lessons at , our last stop, Yeonmunda was cancelled much to my disappointment. Instead, we wait out the snowing with a cuppa from GS25 ( 3000 w x 2 ).

The snow showed no signs of stopping. We took bus 700 back to Suwon station where we would have dinner. For the second time, we experienced the kindness of Suwon folks. Even though no one could answer our questions, someone indicated where we should alight.

Friends at play

Near the shooting range - all blanketed in white

Dad and daughter having so much fun

Korean fast food - bibimbap

Dinner was mushroom porridge and bibimbap at Eat Well café in AK Plaza ( 17 000 won). Then we proceeded for smoothies ( 5700 won ) at Smoothie King. It was overpriced, too sweet but the place was good enough for us to contemplate the day.

We took the subway back to Hongdae. It was peak hour and so had to stand all the way from Suwon back to Seoul, a tiring end to a tiring day.

Next up, snow trekking at Dobongsan.

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