Sunday, August 12, 2012

Damyang: 죽녹원 Bamboo Forest

When I first arrived at Damyang I made my way to my pension (more detail on that later). The owners of the place gave me a lift to the nearest grocery store, and on the way back got me some local treats. This was bamboo shoot bread, and was very delicious with small pieces of bamboo (edible) inside, along with a slight sweet taste from the bread.

On my first full day in Damyang I headed to the bamboo forest ( 죽녹원) to have a lovely walk through tall stalks of leafy bamboo. Getting around Damyang is pretty easy and it was a short walk from my pension to the forest entrance.

On this day I got there around 10 AM, and that proved to be a good decision as I was able to meander through the forest trails without much bother from the crowds. I have never wandered through a bamboo forest and have always thought the idea of this to be enticing.

As I entered the thicker part of the forest and the light grew dim and shaded in lovely ways by the leaves and stalks, I knew this was a special place.

Damyang is located a bit north of Gwangju in the Jeollanam-do province on the Southwestern side of Korea. Of all my time here in Korea I have never ventured to this slice of Korea, and for my vacation figured I would cover this ground.

When walking through the forest I looked up and admired the leaves through the sunlight, making lovely silhouettes.

As you make your way through the forest you pass water fountains, benches and other little spots to stop and enjoy the scenery. Carved into the bamboo were names of couples who had left their mark.

The forest is of course the location of many famous filming spots, and also where Korea's officials have ventured.

The only panda's in this forest were fake, yet still quite cute.

In one area I noticed a bird close to the pathway, that didn't mind getting it's picture taken.

When you get to the back of the forest you enter into the "experience village", where there are traditional houses (hanok), grassy fields and fountains. I didn't really know what there was to "experience" but I had an enjoyable time sitting on the deck of one of the hanoks and taking a rest. Generally, the path throughout the forest is not to laborious but there are some hills here and there.

One of the fun parts of going through the forest were when random people said hello to me. "Where are you from?" Was one of the many questions, and even one visitor gave me a cold drink they got out of a vending machine. It's one of the charms of traveling around Korea, that is of running into nice people along the way.

Heading out of the experience village I admired the walk back to the entrance, and stopped in at the souvenir shop and cafe.

Of all the bamboo trinkets including fans, whacking sticks and back scratchers, I decided to go home with a bamboo cup.

When you get out of the forest you make your way to the left and there is a pavilion where you can rest and look out over Damyang.

In the above picture you see a water fountain area in the front, where kids enjoyed running through and then in the background you see a line of tall trees poking up. That was the meta-sequoia drive walk that is also famous in this area. However, I didn't partake in that as I have experienced tree lined streets before in Korea.

But stay tuned for more posts about my visit to Damyang, including some fun stories of getting lost and finding my way.

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