Trips to the country for tired urbanites
The flowers have turned Mountain Flower Village into a tourist attraction that gives city dwellers a chance to escape their urban existence and experience rural life.
There are no extravagant events going on here. But that may be just what is needed at this time of year, when the heat steaming up the sidewalks, the stress of work and the pressures of school necessitate a little peace and quiet.
The villagers provide a simple but hospitable welcome - along with a few sights straight out of yesteryear, when all the kids would pile into the car and take a trip out to grandma’s country house.
The only cow in the village takes children on a cart ride around town. And while the adults are busy making bibimbap, mixed rice with vegetables, with wild greens native to the area, young people amble down to the lake to go fishing with their friends.
Recently, the town created a “deer clinic” to bring injured animals back to health. It wasn’t intentional, however. One day, a young villager discovered two baby deer lying in a village field, starving. At the time, no one knew that bringing them into the village would be the start of a program that has attracted tourists from around Korea. But the program has become a real treat for visiting city kids, who rarely have a chance to see woodland creatures.
Mountain Flower Village is just one of around a thousand others nationwide offering summer tour packages.
One program pits adventurous families against nature in a three-day, two-night trip to a deserted island with no television and no electricity.
“This, indeed, is an experience that will be difficult to forget. It’s something that will leave a lasting impression on children,” Kweon O-jin, the head of the trip organization Making Memories with Dad, said.
So close your eyes, and let your imagination take you away to a village where thousands of stars embroider the night sky; where frogs sing somberly through the night and you catch minnows in a brook. These are places where you can sit around on a hot summer’s night, eating watermelon and reminiscing about a simpler time.
These days it’s not hard to find information about vacationing in the countryside. Many government organizations, including the improbable Ministry of Public Administration and Security, provide travel information. One Web site, http://tour.invil.com, has recommendations for about 900 such trips. And the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has started a campaign in conjunction with the Korea Tourism Organization to promote domestic tourism. With so many options it’s hard to know which to choose. Here are just a few places to start.
Making Memories with Dad
Is it possible to survive without television or electricity?
Every summer since 2002, adventurous families have trekked out to a deserted island on an action-packed trip that might give “Survivor” a run for its money.
Moms can take a break from these adventures, but participation for dads is mandatory.
Prices are 300,000 won ($234) per person. Trips will be held on July 31 and Aug. 7. Call the group, Making Memories with Dad, at (031) 261-5294 or visit http://cafe.naver.com/swdad.
Experience the DMZ
Explore the 248-kilometer-long demilitarized zone on a trip that takes visitors to military units, historical sites, underground railroads and 10 observation platforms where North Korea can be seen at close range. At one military unit in Gangwon Province, visitors can have lunch with the soldiers stationed there. The five-day, four-night tour departs from Ganghwa, Incheon, to Goseong County, Gangwon, every Tuesday. Prices are 340,000 won for adults and 260,000 won for teenagers and children. Call DMZ Tour Korea at (02) 706-4851 or visit www.dmztourkorea.com.
If stargazing is your thing, you might want to journey to one of the country’s many observatories.
The Yeongwol Byeolmaro Astronomical Observatory on top of Mount Bongrae, Gangwon, offers spectacular views of the mountain and the starlit sky. During the day, visitors can go rafting, listen to astronomy lectures, tour the museum and observe the sun.
The program is for groups with 20 people or more. Prices are 35,000 won for adults, 30,000 won for teenagers and children. Call (033) 374-7460 or visit www.yao.or.kr.
By Son Min-ho [email@example.com]