I specifically chose Seoul, Jeju and Busan as my three major stops of my 10-day-solitary travel in South Korea - 4 days in Seoul (3 days from arrival and one last day before departure), 3 days in Jeju and another 3 days in Busan. These major stops were basically my main entry and exit points to the nearby provinces and to the main places of accommodation.
Having side trips to the nearby provinces in Seoul, Jeju and Busan were like a dessert while I fulfilled my 10-day-solitary travel in South Korea. I wanted to to see more of the country, experience the provincial buses (or what they call as the express bus) and for specific reasons that I thought prior to the trip.
Seoul was my first major stop for the main reason that I'm familiar with the place having been there in Year 2010 and for me to get a feel of the city again, and the weather of course. It was my way of unveiling the very thought of my first solitary travel - that should have sinked in to my inner core - my mind and soul and should not think of anything else but only this trip! I've prepared for this for the last 9 months and I was more than prepared to DO IT and fulfill that DREAM!
I spent the first day just going around Seoul to places that I haven't seen yet and to the same old places that I'd gone to already. It was a good warm-up as I prepared for my trip to the nearby province the next day - Paju, Gyeonggi-do.
Gyeonggi Province is the nearest province surrounding the Capital Seoul, located North West of South Korea and can be reached from the City Capital via 2-hour bus trip. Its political history originated from the time Korea was divided into three nations during the period of Three Kingdoms and eventually as a separate government from Seoul after their liberation from Japanese colony and the foundation of two Korean goverments. Some parts of Gyeonggi Province are geographically and politically part of the Capital Seoul while the northernmost part, Gaesong, became part of the North Korean territory after the countries were divided following the 38th Parallel.
|Soldiers on their morning routine along the main road of Paju in Gyeonggi-do|
I originally planned to spend the whole day in Paju to hop on and off at Paju Premium Outlet, English Village, Heyri Village, Province Village (European style buildings) and Lotte Premium Outlet. But after realizing that reaching Heyri Village alone will take 2-3 hours from Seoul, I decided to spend the first half of the day in Heyri and the rest of the afternoon back in Seoul mainly in Insadong.
Heyri Art Village was constructed by Korean artists to house their artwork. There are residences, art galleries and museum within the vicinity. I personally described it as Haven of Coffee Shops in South Korea. It was my first to see a "Coffee Museum", I'd say only in Korea, where various artsy, themed-coffee shops can be found. Accidentally, I found the place to get my inspiration for a concept of the coffee shop/bed and breakfast-type that I plan to put up five years from now.
|various themed coffeeshops in Heyri Art Village|
Along the way, I attentively listened to the bus stop announcements. Unfortunately, it was in Korean and I thought of picking up key words like Paju. Without a map on hand and only my personalized travel guide, I relied to my instinct and some guts to ask the remaining passengers on the bus. Fortunately, after the bus driver announced the bus stop, I saw the "Heyri Art Village" signage from afar and unlike the other day where I missed to push the Stop button, this time, I pressed it.
|the drop off and the empty highway|
|one of the many artsy structures in Heyri Art Village|
I continued going around looking for one place - Artinus Farmer's Table. This is the location of the K-drama Boys Over Flowers, set-up as Shinhwa High School posh cafeteria. There's a fancy restaurant on the ground floor and sort of a bookstore on the second floor. After looking around for some minutes, I checked my watch and it was nearing lunch time already. I decided to finish my own tour in Heyri Art Village and walked towards Gate 2 to exit.
The place was still quite, just like when I arrived. But I brought with me a lot of solitary memories - the intricate and charming feel of Cafe Rose, the artistic designs of shops and art galleries, a newly learned concept of coffee museum, a lot of themes as an inspiration for my own coffee shop in the future and of course, visiting another K-drama location.
That first attempt to travel outside Seoul gave me a bunch of confidence that I can explore more of South Korea on my own. On my 3N/4D in Jeju Island, I took more bunch of courage to find my way and took a side trip to Udo Island and experienced going around the island by driving an ATV.
And finally, when I was in Busan, I took a morning trip to Chanwoon Province and glimpsed at the early signs of Spring in Jinhae.
Getting to Paju City
- Take Bus 2200 from Hapjeong Station Exit 2. The bus will go through the following route and its corresponding bus stop:
Bus Stop 8. Lotte Premium Outlet - new premium outlet in Paju (est. 60 mins from Hapjeong)
Bus Stop 11. Province Village - Europe style buildings (est. 70mins from Hapjeong)
Bus Stop 12. Heyri Art Village Gate 1 (est. 80mins from Hapjeong)
- In going back to Seoul, cross the main road opposite Heyri Art Village Gate 1 towards the flower shop. That is the bus stop to Seoul.
- Use T-money to pay, it's convenient.
Getting to English Village