Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Dragons and tigers and chili peppers, oh my!

We set off on another little road trip during the four day weekend, this time to a little lake in the more mountainous area of Cheongyang county. It was about an hour away from where we lived, country roads surrounded on both sides by rice fields and looming green mountains. The whole way there I kept thinking about anyone who found themselves stationed in Korea before the age of GPS. How in the world did they go anywhere, find anything? And that wasn't even all that long ago! I still remember having to go on to mapquest in college and print off directions before setting off anywhere, and before that there were worn spiral bound books of road maps tucked into the back seats of the our family's station wagon. But even with a map I'd be lost in Korea because... umm... yeah I can't read hangul. While most of the road signs around us, on the interstates and in metropolitan areas, have both the hangul characters and the romantization, that is not the case once you head into more rural areas with less foreigners.

All that to say we are one hundred percent, completely and utterly dependent on our gps directions and thank goodness for technology or we would miss out on some neat places like the Cheonjangho Suspension Bridge. Our trusty gps led us blindly to a large parking lot, which was nearly empty since we were visiting on an overcast Monday and had arrived before 11am (Korea in general seems to get moving a little later in the day and stay up later at night- aka the opposite of our life right now).
The Cheongjangho Suspension Bridge crosses Cheongyang Lake and is the largest suspension bridge in Korea. A smooth easy trail lead us down to the lake, passing just the beginning of the chili peppers- the theme of the day. A quick google search once we got home informed us that the Cheongyang county is known for Cheongyang chili peppers which are like a spicier version of the traditional Korean chili peppers. Hence, chili pepper mascots, all the chili pepper photo ops, and giant chili pepper towers at the start of the bridge. Because why the heck not!
 
It was so nice to have the place mostly to ourselves as I've seen pictures of it looking more crowded (I think fall is particularly popular with all the changing colors in the mountains), and even though it's not all that high, the bridge was wobbly enough for my liking.

At the other end of the bridge you are greeted by a giant dragon in front of you and an equally large tiger to your left. Plus a painted recreation of both for your photo backdrops. Korea is reliable like that. They literally build things that serve no other purpose than to look cute for the 'gram.
Apparently, though, the dragon and the tiger have significance to this lake beyond looking cool in photos. A translated sign told us the following story:

"Chonjangho, a small lake below Mt. Chilgab, is known for the legend of the dragon and the tiger. A yellow dragon who was waiting a thousand years to ascend to heaven, saved a child by making a bridge over the water. A tiger, watching this, protected the mountain as a spiritual being. Climbing the mountain over the bridge, you can have luck and a healthy baby through miraculous energy from the dragon and the tiger."
We headed up another path towards a wishing rock but didn't have scrap of paper on us to add our own to the chain of wishes. Then, winding further around the lake was yet another chili pepper. 
Back up by the car park were little souvenir stands and umbrellas and dining tables outside of several little restaurants serving traditional korean foods. We had packed a picnic so we just purchased a bottled water and sat outside to have our lunch before getting back in the car. We had intentions of visiting a nearby temple but both boys promptly fell asleep the second we got back in the car. We'll have to plan another trip back down there soon to see what all we missed.

2 comments :

  1. I so enjoy your videos!! I will never get to S. Korea so love that you take us along with you so we can experience it too! Florida has relaxed the rules a bit here so we are enjoying getting out and about and having a bit of our freedoms reinstated! Be safe and be blessed!

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  2. So many fun places to go and cool things to see and adorable boys to hold. Wish we were able to hop on a plane and do all three. Especially that last bit xo

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