This was written a MONTH AND A HALF AGO so sorry I’ve been stupid busy
Hope you had a fantastic weekend. If you’re anything like me, you’re looking forward to the coming weekend already (and it’s Monday for me haha).
This weekend I went to an island very close to the North Korean border called Ganghwa. It’s about an hour, to an hour and a half bus ride north of Seoul. We left early Saturday morning and made it back around seven pm so it was a much longer day than usual.
Ganghwa is a much older area, you can tell the moment you step off the bus. The people are older, the pace of the city is much slower, clothes, style of buildings, everything. It’s kind of like taking a step back into 2009. It was really interesting to see such an immediate contrast to Sinchon, where Yonsei is located, a place filled with people all the time, where no one is really looking out for anyone else because you don’t have enough time, to this smaller, quaint town where the restaurant owners come out to comment on how cool you are, provide details on the food, and which ones they consider most delicious.
I can’t really tell which one I like more. I love Seoul much more than I thought I would, everything is exactly where I need it and there’s never a moment of pausing to ask “what else can I do” because there’s always something new you could be trying. Conversely, Ganghwa is a place where you have to have a plan when heading there. There isn’t anything that you could do other than sightsee and even then it doesn’t take long. The appealing part of it is that everyone seems much more interested in getting to know you (that might just be because we’re foreigners but whatever). It felt nice to be noticed by Koreans when usually you’re looked past or looked at with disdain). Majority of towns outside of Seoul are like this because so much money is pushed into the big cities, there is less support and infrastructure in smaller towns.
We went to Ganghwa because of the rich history. In Ganghwa there used to be several palaces — most of which were burnt down by the Japanese — but some still stand, or they have reconstructed where the palaces would have been if they were once standing.
Ganghwa Island is the fifth largest island in Korea, and is considered the first line of defense for the nation, as every foreign power that has came to Korea — Russia, the US, Japan, and China — have all had to get past Ganghwa, considering it originally stood as a fortress to defend Joseon (that’s the name of the longest dynasty in Korea). The historical museums and the palaces aren’t as large as the original buildings of course, but it was very cool to see just how much history is in this country that I have yet to learn about.
There’s also a lookout where you can see North Korea but it was too long of a bus ride to get there and back in order to get home in time so we didn’t go (I think we’re going to the DMZ which is cooler anyway).
Also I would go when it’s hot because it was VERY WINDY AND VERY COLD AND WE ALL WERE DYING.
Thanks for tagging along,