Saturday, June 25, 2016

Incheon: Tail End of Cherry Blossom Season

Having arrived at the very tail end of the cherry blossom season, the first order upon arrival—nevermind not having had any sleep for more than 24 hours—was to go to Incheon, in the hopes of gazing at cherry blossom petals on branches and not on the ground.


Chinatown
인천 차이나타운

I was in South Korea, why would I want to go see China? I did not want to, but I had to. From Incheon Station, there was no other way to get to Songwoldong Fairy Tale Village and Jayu Park, but through Chinatown.

Just across Incheon Station looms a huge yellow and red gate. Unmistakably Chinatown.

Walking the uphill main road of Chinatown, I followed my nose and turned right to a street lined with many different shops and stalls selling so many unfamiliar food. I wanted to try everything! But my common sense, budget, and stomach were all in agreement: No! Just two or three. The woes of traveling alone.

Gonggalpang (foreground) and Onggibyeong (background)

So many delicious smells wafting from every direction, but these are the must try ones when in Chinatown:
  • Gonggalppang – The name means "empty bread". These are large, sweet, round, and hollow baked crisps. After trying a piece or two (okay, maybe three) from the free taste bowl, I wanted to buy one gonggalppang....but it was sold in bags of five to eight!
  • Onggibyeong – These are oven-baked dumplings which looked to me more like buns. The dumplings are stuffed with sweet potato, pumpkin, meat, or red beans, and baked in a large clay jar. Onggibyeong are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
  • Jajangmyeon – Because this stir fried noodles in black bean sauce is said to have originated in Incheon.

Directions to Chinatown: Take subway line 1 to Incheon Station, exit 1. Right across is Chinatown.


Songwoldong Fairy Tale Village
송월동 동화마을

I left the delicious smelling street of Chinatown, and followed the road opposite until I found a rainbow archway to my right. The archway with Korean letters let me know (though I don't know how to read Korean) that I was now in in the land of fairy tales: Songwoldong Fairy Tale Village. This magical village is replete with colorful murals and decorations depicting well loved children's fairy tales such as The Wizard of Oz, Aladdin, Little Red Riding Hood, The Frog Prince, etc.


Directions to Songwoldong Fairytale Village: Take subway line 1 to Incheon Station, exit 1. Enter Chinatown right across the station, and follow the main road. At the end of the road, turn left and follow the road until you see a rainbow archway on your right.


Jayu Park
자유공원 (인천)

From somewhere in Songwoldong Fairy Tale Village, I spotted a white puff of trees from a distance. Keeping my eyes on the trees, I weaved my way through the village until I reached Jayu Park. Jayu Park was sprinkled with petals falling on the ground and locals enjoying the cool spring day. I explored more of Jayu Park until I reached an area with patches of brightly colored flowers and a vista of Incheon Port.

At the fringes of Jayu Park

Spring has sprung


The view from Jayu Park

Directions to Jayu Park: Take subway line 1 to Incheon Station, exit 1. Enter Chinatown right across the station, and follow the main road. At the end of the road, turn right and be tempted by the delicious smells of food. After the temptation, turn left where the walls are tiled with scenes of a Chinese story. At the end of the story (or maybe that was the beginning?), turn left to Jayu Park.


Incheon Grand Park
인천대공원

With time and energy to spare, I decided to go to Incheon Grand Park. The lady at the Tourist Information Center just outside Incheon Station told me that I could go directly to Incheon Grand Park by bus (1 hour), but I decided to take the subway to Songnae Station (30 mins) then a bus (15 mins). From the bus stop I followed a man in a hiking outfit, deducing he was going to the park too. After he had unwittingly acted as my guide, I thanked him in my mind and, lest someone think I was stalking him, overtook him to start my exploration of Incheon Grand Park. The grassy areas of the park were dotted with picnickers and the tree lined roads were teeming with locals strolling, biking, jogging, and admiring the thinning trees as it snowed cherry blossom petals.


Directions to Incheon Grand Park: If you're coming from Chinatown, at the bus stop right outside Incheon Station, take bus 15. Or take subway line 1 to Songnae Station, exit 1. Then take any of these buses: 103, 16-1, 909.


On the subway on my way to my hostel, still an hour and a transfer away, I fought the urge to fall asleep and instead thought of how lucky I am to have caught the last scenes of the cherry blossom season.






2 comments:

  1. Hello! Can I ask when did u go to Incheon? Do you have the exact date? I'll be going this year in April..was wondering whether I should explore Seoul or Incheon.

    Hope to hear from you!

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    1. Hi! This was around April 16-17 last year. Here's the cherry blossom forecast for South Korea for 2017: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/AKR/FU_EN_15.jsp?cid=2483498 Enjoy your trip!

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