Monday, July 15, 2024
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A tranquil escape

ANN/THE KOREA HERALD – Seeking respite from urban life, many Seoulites spend their precious weekends relaxing with family and friends just outside the city.

Cities and counties in Gyeonggi Province are particularly popular weekend getaways due to their easy access from the capital and the serene atmosphere of the countryside.

Yangpyeong, among many others, beckons travellers, cyclists, runners and sports lovers with its cycle lanes along the Namhangang River, the Paldang Dam, as well as paragliding and canoe opportunities.

However, veteran travellers like Chae Song-hwa, a neurosurgeon in the hit drama Hospital Playlist (2020), enjoy the less well-known side of Yangpyeong with a trip to Seolmaejae Natural Recreation Forest.

Chae, one of five doctors in the popular medical drama Hospital Playlist, is constantly battling to save lives at work.

While she relieved her stress from work by playing bass in a band of fellow doctors, Song-hwa’s other hobby is camping.

The series heavily focused on the doctor’s seemingly unending desire for the latest camping gear and the energy she received from beautiful nature.

A panoramic view of Yangpyeong County from the observatory deck at Seolmaejae Natural Recreation Forest. PHOTO: THE KOREAN HERALD
ABOVE & BELOW: Photos show camping pitches; barrier-free mountain trail; and log cabins. PHOTO: THE KOREAN HERALD

These camping scenes were all filmed at Seolmaejae Natural Recreation Forest where visitors can freely explore the forest areas and immerse themselves in the nature of Yongmunsanmake.

Accommodations include log cabins or tents pitched on the campsite’s wooden decks.

It is a 20-minute drive on a winding mountainside road to the forest area that lies deep in the folds of the mountain, but this is the only challenge that the holidaymakers will face during their trip.

Once they arrive at Seolmaejae Natural Recreation Forest, the visitors will be surrounded by the thick pine tree forest that blocks any traffic noise.

The tranquil atmosphere allows people to enjoy the chirping of mountain birds and even the sound of bugs beating their wings.

Keep smartphones or laptops away.

The forest provides a perfect opportunity to take in the beautiful nature of Yangpyeong.

Visitors can entertain themselves with a game of badminton, basketball or football at the campsite. A chance to explore different areas of Yongmunsan, however, is perhaps the biggest reason for visiting Seolmaejae Natural Recreation Forest.

Perfect for light trekking, a 1,020-metre-long trail that starts at the campsite takes trekkers up Yongmunsan.

This barrier-free mountain trail is covered by wooden decks, allowing everyone, from small children to the elderly, to enjoy the stunning mountainscapes and fresh air of the lush forest of pine and maple trees.

“It is a great spot for families and even wheelchair (or stroller) users can enjoy a calm, relaxing stroll as the use of trekking poles, bicycles, inline skates, and electric scooters is forbidden. Dogs must be on a leash for a cosy campsite environment as well,” a Seolmaejae official told The Korea Herald.

“I know that many visitors are looking for the spot where Chae Song-hwa set up her tent. But the place is very hard to find for first comers. And it is not available at the moment due to maintenance work,” the official added.

Meanwhile, some people find the campsite a perfect spot for stargazing.

“You are literally surrounded by trees and there are no car headlights (to distract you).

“Anyone can pleasantly soak in the atmosphere and enjoy stargazing at night. I am certain that heading to Seolmaejae on a cloudless day with good weather will make your day,” Lee Hyun-woo, a Seoul-based 37-year-old office worker who enjoys camping, told The Korea Herald, sharing his previous experience at the site. – Lee Si-jin