Wednesday, June 29, 2016

연암공원 Suwon Park

During a recent bike ride around Suwon we most likely broke many rules, despite the fact we were making our best effort to go by them. So I'm going to begin this recommendation by stating, I don't know if we were supposed to be riding our bikes here.  We had avoided going a few places that specifically said no bikes, but the trails we used to access this park didn't have signs that we noticed. We aren't saying they weren't there, we just didn't notice them.

Even though we are unsure if bike are allowed, we are sure dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash and you pick up after them. BE SURE of those two things.  We saw quite a few owners out walking their little ankle biters so grab your fur baby and head outside.

One of the big reasons this park is perfect for you and your dog in the summer is that it is HEAVILY shaded. We were able to avoid direct sun throughout nearly the entire trek. A fact we greatly appreciated after stupidly not bringing water with us. A mistake we hope to never make again, but most likely will endlessly. There are also many napping areas along the way, so you will have plenty of chances to take a rest that are also out of the sun.

This particular park is great because it wanders along a ridge all the way to the lake park that we love. That means you can go jump in water features at the end of your long walk (or bike ride as was our case). That's a lovely end to any outdoor excursion. 

The pin that we dropped marks the beginning of the series of parks and green spaces that run all the way to the water. There are many different entrances and exits along the way.

ADDRESS: 경기도 수원시 팔달구 우만동 238

Four Seasons Theme Dog Park

While on the search for human swimming pools in Pyeongtaek I came across something I'd never thought to look for, dog theme parks. So, imagine my shock when one just happened to be located only 10 minutes from our house. Actually it was less shock and more complete disbelief. I mean, how could there be an awesome dog park minutes from my house and I not know? I research everything!!!!

Well, it's there and it's big and it's very well maintained. It's not cheap, but it's also not terribly expensive. Especially if you consider the package prices include very impressive self-dog washing areas that will make it super easy for you to take your fur babies home looking like royalty. 

There are three exorcise areas that are separated by dog size (although we did see some tiny dogs chilling in the big dog area) and two swimming pools for owners (also separated by size) and dogs to frolic in together.

Plus, there are plenty of shaded areas with picnic tables where you can hang out all day with your friends if you bring all your supplies.  If you don't bring your supplies you can also order BBQ from them and use their BBQ's or grab a snack for you and your fur friends at the cafe. We had a coffee and it was totally respectable.

If you like to practice agility training, they have all kinds of ramps and things to hop over, under and around. The spaces all appeared to be very well secured with tons of space for dogs to run.

Prices are based on 1) dog size 2) what facilities you plan to use 3) how many dogs you have 4) how many people are in your group. Since space is limited they can have you show up for a picnic with 20 friends and one dog and not charge for the entire group. It makes sense based on the business model. Price per person is 3,000 and price per dog ranges from 8,000 (small dog just chilling in the exorcise area) to 30,000 (giant dog using all the things).

We recommend coming here in an outfit that you want to get wet in and playing all day with your fur baby. Make a day of it. Get all your moneys worth and maker you doggy the happiest doggy in the world. 

*** This listing and all other restaurants reviewed by South of Seoul can be found in the South of Seoul app which can be downloaded from Google Play and the Apple App Store. ***

ADDRESS: 경기도 평택시 서탄면 마두리 43-17

Monday, June 27, 2016

Suwon Lake

Whenever I can be near water or in water I am. It's always been a big part of my life. In order to get more of it, this last weekend we decided to go checkout one of Suwon's lakes in the middle of the city. We rented old bikes from the near the palace and road them through the city, along the river, through a park, and down to the waters edge. It was quite the adventure and took about an hour since it was our first trip and we were exploring. I will go into more detail about how to do this entire trip later this week.

Suwon's 원천호수 (lake) has been developed into a stunning park area surrounded by the tall mountainous buildings of a busy vibrant city. Due to our limited time, and our love of getting wet, we chose to visit the section of park that's covered in water features that you and your children are welcome to play in. An entire hillside and boardwalk of flowing, pooling and shooting water that will delight your inner and/or real child.

This is an excellent choice for a picnic and lots of Korean families take advantage of it so you won't be alone. There might also be live music, event tents, and more happening throughout the summer. This isn't where you go away to get away from it all, this is where you go to join in the fun of the city and the culture.

The park is much bigger than what you see in these pictures. There is a long trail system the snakes along the edge of the lake, so if exorcise is what you want, this is also a great place to get it. As an added bonus, dogs are allowed the park as long as they are leashed and you pick up after them. So grab your friends, your fur babies, or your real babies and go forth to enjoy the summer fun.

Artspace NOON BOM

Envy is the best word I can think of to describe my feelings right now. This gallery, arts space, gallery labyrinth is every kind of thing I love and it's too far from my house to go every week. I'm filled with jealousy for the Suwon folks who have this on their doorstep.  

When you go here be SURE to tour every single inch of it. There seemed to always be one more corner to go around, one more beautiful thing to discover. There is no way for my photos to do it justice. Honestly, the coffee and drinks are secondary to the sheer beauty and inspiration of the entire setup. Go here and spend your money. Support this space. Take your journals, your sketchbooks, your stories and go create. 

This space was made for dreamers so go grab some coffee and dream all the dreams. I'll be in Pyeongtaek counting the days until I can go back.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


It's no secret I've struggled to find coffee shops I'm happy with near Camp Humphreys, or maybe it is... Anyway, I've simply not been impressed. Either they aren't comfortable, aren't cute, or don't taste great.

Well, my search has finally been rewarded. Sadly, this is not next to the main gate, but it is in the same town, it is lovely, my espresso wasn't bitter, and I as able to completely enjoy it while sitting outside in the evening sun. I call that a win.

Not only that but THEY SELL BEANS!!!!! YAHHHHHHH.  I hadn't expected this bonus feature and I'm pretty excited about it. Prices are 10,000 won per 200g and they have a variety of options. I didn't buy any to try, but based on the coffee I had there I'm guessing it will be good.

As it turns out, the shop is next door to a coffee supply company, so they have access to all the best stuff. Maybe they even have the same owner. I really don't know. I was too busy to grill them on all the details.

The point being, it you are living near Humphreys and looking for a place to hangout, or you need some beans for home - go check out Cafe AGIT. It's worth you time and your taste buds.

*** This listing and all other restaurants reviewed by South of Seoul can be found in the South of Seoul app which can be downloaded from Google Play and the Apple App Store. ***

상투방 Hike Near Yeonginsan Natural Forest

Next to/Around the ever so fancy Yeonginsan Natural Forest are plenty of hiking trails and views. This one, on the edge of the park has trail access from inside the park and outside so it can either be an all day event or a 30 minute, hearty hike. Just depends on what you are looking for.

The trails aren't easily routed on Naver, but the long hike begins in the lower parking lot below Yeonginsan Natural Forest. There is a trail that follows the road and another that goes up the ridge to the peak. This is the one we recommend. Although on this day we cheated and just walked the ridge. It was still a workout.

Don't be like us. Be certain to take water with you even if you are taking the easy route. The hike is surprisingly intense right at the end and you are fully exposed at to the sun at the point. You are GOING to want water.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Yeonginsan Natural Forest

Located about 30 minutes from Pyeongtaek is a gorgeous forest and mountain hiking area that isn't overrun by people every moment of the year (but I'm sure it happens). The name is Yeonginsan Natural Forest and it's one of the best places South of Seoul to go and get away from it all because it's NOT on a subway stop.

This gorgeous park can be a hard day of hiking (if you park at the lower free parking lot) or an easy day out with the kids on smooth paths perfect for strollers (if you park at the top in the paid parking area & entrance fee. Worth it. Maybe 3,000 per person). If you are a family with mixed levels of activity, it's the answer you have been looking for. You can drop your avid hikers off at the bottom of the mountain, then drive to the top to lounge about in the forest parks and rec areas while they huff it up to meet you.

In addition to hiking, there is a swimming pool (open only during "swim" season starting in July), a nice zipline, obstacle course, play area, rental cabins, museum, cactus arboretum, water features, basketball court, badminton court, etc. You get the picture, plenty of stuff to do and a peaceful place to do it in.

This is another place we have driven past for 5 years and never stopped until now, we regret it. This is the nicest place for hiking near Pyeongtaek by far. Incredibly well maintained and refreshing, great views at the top.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Asan Pinnacle Land

We've driven past Pinnacle Land more times than I can count, but there is nothing interesting about it from the road so we never stopped. It's simple not marketed in a manner that stands out to foreigners. However, since I'm dedicated to knowing everything there is to do in and near Pyeongtaek, I finally had to go check it out.

Like everything I've done so far in Korea (except a super weird Alice In Wonderland Park I once visited), Pinnacle Land turned out much cooler than I thought it was going to be. Hidden away so that it can't be seen from the road, its basically a European inspired garden on the side of a large hill (or mountain as they are all called here). Throughout the garden there are endless sculptures, a variety of small animal exhibits that are well maintained, cool and shaded paths, fountains, flowers, and finally a giant water fall and pond featured at the pinnacle of the garden. 

This themed park is perfect for both couples and families. Families will love the knee deep paddling pool for the kiddies in the summer, as well as lots of candies and treats to get the kiddos all hopped up on sugar while they run up and down the hill.

Now, warning for those that are horrified by culturally inappropriate exhibits. There is a terrifying and bizarre "Indian Village" located on the left side of paths that somehow manages to mix South American, North American and African indigenous peoples into one lump. This thing is so over-the-top you won't quite know what to think. That said, I've actually seen similar "cultural exhibits" in the states that mixed together Korea, Japan, China, and most of South East Asia into one "Asian" group - so it's a bit like that - completely offensive.

Apart from that speed bump, the cafe also excellent coffee where you can sit and discuss everything wrong with the "Indian Village" or the loveliness of the gardens and hilltop waterfall. We had expected them to just phone-it-in on the coffee but they didn't. My espresso was excellent and my husbands macchiato was the closest thing we have seen to a traditional Italian version we've had in the countryside.

If we had kids we would come here regularly in the summer because of all the room to play and the lovely pool for them to play in. It's awesome for them because the hike isn't too difficult, the paths have tons of shade and places to rest, and there is an ice cream stand at the top of the hike.

There is an entrance fee (see photo below) but parking is free.