On Sunday, I decided to head to Samcheong Park, beckoned by the flowering of the cherry blossoms, and in keeping true to my nature, away from the bustling and crowded streets of Yeoinaru, Seoul. Samcheong Park is about a 30 minutes amble up the road from Anguk station, exit 2. This was a particularly intriguing way to spend a Sunday as Anguk is simple and charming with a sense of familiarity that emits from the streets that are new to my eyes. I felt welcomed by the warm coffee shops, boasting organic coffee and fresh teas, art galleries, furniture shops and expensive clothing stores all intermingled with bakeries and specialised food stores lending to a unique aura of Italy meets Korea. A sense of sophistication can be felt, uncharacteristically clean and somewhat classy with their modern buildings with marble finishings and stylish lighting. However as we ventured further up this street, we came across traditional Korean style homes, Hanok, made from timber, soil and rock with their exquisitely tiled roofs (Giwa) and wooden beams. I can’t say why I love these building so much, only
that they seem to speak to a part of me that I don’t even know, as if I once lived in a Hanok – perhaps grew up in one, grew old in one – there is just a connection felt, and it is strong. Perhaps it is the sense of living history that one cannot help but feel emanating from the very old and sturdy walls.
The streets veered off from the main road, winding their way into a confused maze of houses and alleys and stairwells, all exhibiting the same richness of time and perfection in constructing these homes.
What I do find particularly beautiful about these buildings are their decorative eaves as well as the decorative doors. Such detail has been put into the making of these often overlooked aspects of our homes, however, there is something so intriguing about doors in Korea, which will be another entry on my blog, but for now, their decorative capacity and attention to detail is astounding and somewhat mystifying.
Further along our way, we pass several places of interest, or at least wonder, such as the Seoul Museum of Chicken Art. I did not wait around to find out why such a place exists, but chose rather to accept it was just another idiosyncrasy of Korea. The road meandered its way up the hill, offering sweet passages up small stairwells, more hanoks to delight the eye, and finally, at the crescent of the hill, our eyes fell upon some of what the cherry blossoms had to offer. In the distance, a feast for our eyes, was a hill, scattered with trees, and smatterings of cherry blossoms, visible by their contrasting colours to the early stages of spring and their still hibernating neighbours. Fresh white and pink blossoms colouring the hill with an unimaginable softness and newness that only the dawn of spring can show.
The park itself offers pathways and hikes demarcated by wooden walkways and bridges. Benches are provided for rest or simply to sit upon as you absorb your surroundings. My friend and I ate our Kimbap happily, talking away about the welcomed coming of spring and the imminent heat that will follow in summer, an occurrence we are both looking forward to. After lunch, we made our way around the park, enjoying the boardwalk and the earthen sound it made beneath our feet, watching butterflies glide by, people walking their dogs and families out on excursions.
Our chosen path winded its way up and around, opening up to what might have been a brook had there been sufficient rain to water its thirsty banks.
Finally, after much exploring and feeling our why through what nature and this beautiful park had to present, we returned to the main area of the park, with concrete paths teaming with visitors and families alike. Here the cherry blossoms stand like centuries, overlooking and overhanging the path, enveloping it with its beauty, creating an archway through which to exit. Perhaps the allure of these flowers, is the fact that they are so short lived, and must be savoured as much as possible.
On heading back down the street, we stopped to wish the last few alleyways a warm farewell, stopping to peer at the last few stores that caught our eye on the way up, and finally, stopping to have tea in one of the many quaint tea rooms along the road. An exquisite journey, and one I definitely recommend.