Okay, so you've probably never heard of Gangneung and Pyeongchang before because all the K-dramas that you've watched was filmed in Seoul. Kinda like, foreigners would try to impress you with their geography by saying "I know the capital city of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur" and then you continue to tell them you're from KK, Sabah which is 2 and a half hours away and they look at you as if you're from a different continent because if you have to fly for that long you might as well be in another country or continent already.
So anyways, for my exchange program, to enlightened us that Korea is more than just Seoul, we went out of the city and into the woods, located North of Seoul are Gangneung and Pyeongchang.
Time taken from Seoul to Gangneung is about 3 and half hours. On the way to Gangneung we stopped by Munmak for snacks and toilet. Instead of having lunch prepared for us, our coordinator Ms. Elena gave each of us 15,000 won for lunch. After early lunch, we head towards Wuljeongsa, a temple located on Odaesan mountain, which is a national park.
Did you just say Forest?! Odaesan & Woljeong-sa
Unfortunately we only had very little time to tour the national park and it began to drizzle a bit as we enter the temple where a commentator gave us a tour on the history of the temple and the story of how the temple came about. After that we had a craft-making session in the temple, which is to make paper (lotus) lanterns using different colored paper, glue, candle and a paper cup.
IF I have the chance to go back to Korea the Odaesan Mountain is one place that I would want to finish visiting, the air so cool and refreshing. And also because I love the forest...
Korean Version of 端午节... Dano Centre
The very next day, we left the hotel at 8.30am to go to Gangneung Dano Center, the car ride took about one and half hour. At the center we learnt about the Danoje (Dano festival) which is a Korean traditional holiday that falls on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar Korean calendar. The exhibit center are customs related to ancestral rites, shaman ritual and folk games to preserve the folk culture of the Joseon Dynasty. Besides that, we also learnt about a famous play that has been pass from one generation to another. The transmission is divided into three way. One is the group for ceremony, one is for shaman ceremony and the other is for mask-playing, which is the famous play mentioned earlier. Apparently Danoje for Koreans is different from Malaysian's 端午節(Dragon Boat Festival) despite celebrating it on the same day and with similar pronunciation.
After the tour about the Dano festival, we had another craft-making activity at the center itself which is drawing on Korean Traditional fans using water colours. At the end of the activity everyone had their own custom-made fans to be brought back home as souvenir.
We should have stayed here instead, Pyeongchang National Youth Center (PNYC)
Courtesy visit to the Pyeongchang National Youth Center. We had a pit stop along the way as it took around 2 hours to PNYC from our hotel (Class 300). PNYC is one of the 5 National Youth Center in Korea focusing more on nature and outdoor activity due to it's geographical suitability. A government infrastructure which provides facilities including accommodation, adventure activity facilities, campsites and an observatory place for youth to learn and observe the nature. They have youth coming into this place whole year round for activities and camp. They focus a lot on middle school students, high school students and also the intellectually disabled.
Korea National Youth Centers:
After that we had lunch at the canteen. We were suppose to go for zip lining and wall climbing activity, however due to some unforseen circumstances we were not unable to hence we only could walk around the Youth Center and enjoy it’s scenery and fresh air.