Now that frisbee season is over, I finally have some time to explore more of the unique places in Korea. This weekend, I decided I needed to take advantage of one of the last weekends of good weather and headed south to Juknokwon or as easier said “the bamboo forest.” I decided kinda late in the week to go on this journey and everyone was already busy, so I hopped on a bus Saturday morning by myself and headed off to the city of Gwangju.
First off, I have to talk about the intercity buses in Korea. I’ve taken chartered buses before and even used them when traveling around Ecuador last year, but I have never ridden on a bus that is as nice as the ones in Korea. There are different grade buses, general and excellent, and the difference is only about $5. The general is the basic charter bus that we all know. The excellent will blow your mind! There are only 3 wide seats in each row, 2 together and 1 by itself, there is a leg rest, there are speakers in the head rest, and each seat has a USB port so you can charge your phone/tablet! I was lucky to be able to get a seat on one of these buses for my 2 1/2 hour journey!
Once arriving in Gwangju, I hopped on a city bus and rode about 45 minutes to Damyang and the bamboo forest. The weather wasn’t so great so I was hoping that most of the Koreans wouldn’t be out because lets face it-they are afraid of weather. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case and the place was packed.
As soon as you walk in, you are surrounded by bamboo trees that are towering over you. There is a path to follow and of course there are cafes along the way-this is Korea after all. It was such a neat feeling to be in the middle of nature yet still only 15 km away from one of the larger Korean cities. This just further proves that the best word to describe Korea is “juxtaposition.” I spent my time walking through the forest trying to take it all in while trying to get away from the hoards of people and selfies that were occurring around me.
Along the way, there was an area with panda sculptures. I guess that makes sense since pandas and bamboo go together. I like how Korea incorporates characters into everything and makes these areas a little cuter.
Behind the forest but still connected to the park, was a small garden like area and village. With the leaves changing colors, traditional Korean houses, and the green of the bamboo, the only word I can use is spectacular. The leaves were vibrant colors of red and yellow and contrasted against the green bamboo. I just couldn’t get enough of the natural beauty that surrounded me and I think I took about 50 pictures just of the leaves. Apparently since it’s so beautiful, what I assume to be Korean dramas are filmed in that garden. If a k-drama is filming somewhere, then you know it’s beautiful!
Outside of the forest, there were many stalls selling bamboo ice cream, bamboo tea, and handmade things from the bamboo. Even though it wasn’t that warm out, I had to try the bamboo ice cream and tea. The ice cream was good, but as you can imagine, there isn’t a lot of flavor. I bet in the summer, it’s very refreshing. I need to just accept that fact that I am not a tea person because I did not enjoy the bamboo tea. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing and it is better cold, but the drink was slightly chalky tasting and I had to pour it out. However, if you like green tea, then you might like the taste of bamboo tea. But hey, I had to try it so no regrets!
The bamboo forest was an item on my Korea Bucket List and I’m so happy that I took the day trip there to see it. I saw some pictures of the forest when there is snow on the ground, so hopefully before I leave Korea, I will be able to go back!