Monday, May 27, 2013

Paradise in Suncheon

있잖아요!  저기는 순천대학교 뒤에 있는 정자 하고 저수지 하고 개울 하고 폭포 있는 곳인데 아주 좋아요!

One of the benefits of not being tied to a car is walking.  Thankfully, I enjoy walking, and with my Teva sandals I can walk anywhere.  Thankfully, my sense of adventure, curiosity, and exploration has not waned over the many decades of my existence on this orb.

Several weeks ago, during one of my treks along the Dongcheon in Suncheon, I was curious about all of the construction along one of the tributaries that feeds into the river.  As I walked along a new walking trail, I soon came upon a break in the action thanks to a new construction site.  At this place a crossing on the tributary itself, and a walking bridge overhead, were being constructed.  There wasn't anyway I was going to turn back, so I crossed over the tributary on the newly laid crossing and stepped deeper into the construction zone.  I was the only person anywhere near this area.  

In Korea, if a person is dumb enough to enter a dangerous area, being forewarned and all that jazz, and that person gets hurt, then it's that person's own damn fault.  I had to be especially cautious where I placed my feet in this area, because there were many obstacles just waiting to make their presence known to my naked toes.

At this point I had to climb out of the tributary due to its structure.  On top of the tributary there is a bustling little community with a lot of university aged students.  For a point of reference, this spot is behind Suncheon National University.  I received a couple of wide-eyed looks; 'where the hell did this guy come from?' kinds of looks.  One young business professional stopped me by a convenience store, and we chatted for quite some time.  I can't emphasize enough the importance of carrying business cards everywhere, all the time, always...and a smile...and a willingness to meet new people.  Just like that, I've a new client.

We parted ways, and about half a kilometer from our original meeting place, I heard my name being called.  I turned around and saw the same young man running towards me with a drink in his hand.  He had bought kiwi juice for me, and he ran all the way to give me the treat.  Life is so interesting.

I continued my walk up the tributary, but on top at this point.  There are a few places along the route with newly built stairways that allow people to walk down to the water.  Anyway, upstream I walked.

At that point where the urban ended and where the rural began, I saw a new park that was mostly finished.  Overlooking the park is a small apartment complex set in the mountain, and I thought to myself that there has to be some money there.  It is a narrow park due to the geography of the area -- it is a small canyon after all.

The park ended at the base of a large earthen dam.  A trail up the side of the dam took me to the top -- break left and one can hike up the mountain; break right and one can walk over the dam to the other side and to some sort of small village.  It appeared to me that the village route would continue the upstream adventure, but that must wait for another day. 

For a few weeks I have been telling my wife about this jaunt only to be met with the 'yeah, right, okay, sure dear' type of response that is often found in a marriage.  However, this past Saturday, my wife wanted to get out of the house, and I suggested a drive to the general area of this park.  A small picnic lunch with liquid refreshments was prepared.  My wife, while driving, was working hard to veer off course, but I kept a steady gaze on the prize.  We did find a couple of interesting places to revisit as I tried to get to the area looking from a driver's perspective.

Finally, we found a bridge to drive across thanks to a landmark I had deliberately committed to memory during my original trip.  We found a great place to park next to the tributary, but because the new park is ironically hidden due to geography, my wife was not enthusiastic about walking up a mountain on a very warm day.  And then we crested a gentle hill, and she saw what I saw all those weeks ago.  She laughed, and asked for the 1,000,000th time, "How did you find this?"

Except for the few workers working on the new landscaped grounds, we were the only people there.  In a couple of years when the new foliage has a chance to thrive, it will be a lush park.  The constructed pools have signs and banners telling people not to swim, and I'm sure no one will ever take a dip into those deep pools...ahem, cough.

I suggested to my wife that we stroll to the 정자 so we could enjoy some shade, eat our lunch, nap, and talk.

© Mark Eaton

We finally left during early evening.  But we will return.  When we left our home to drive to this location, I told my wife that it is paradise in Suncheon.  After setting up our picnic in the 정자, she exclaimed, "This is paradise in Suncheon!"  Sometimes I do get it right.

© Mark Eaton

View From Atop the Earthen Dam
© Mark Eaton

View From Atop the Earthen Dam II
© Mark Eaton

Apartment Overlooking the Park
© Mark Eaton

Atop the Earthen Dam II
© Mark Eaton

And the adventure continues.


  1. It does look like paradise! :)
    Steve and I love teva sandals too! :)

  2. Because I rave so much about my Teva's, my wife wants a pair of her own. Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment.