Like all cities, Suncheon is comprised of a bunch of townships and neighborhoods, called "eup," "dong," and "myeon". How many? One, ten, and thirteen, respectively looks to be it, even though Naver has encyclopedia entries for administrative divisions that no longer exist. Regardless, many of Suncheon's are actually quite rural---Songgwang-myeon has 2,289 people---but what can be considered Suncheon's urban area is shaped like a badly misshapen "V" around two small hills: Bonghwasan and Jukdobong. Perhaps they are considered part of the same mountain, who knows, but they do make for some pleasant hiking and strolling.
Bonghwasan is nice because it's next to my apartment. If you look at some of the pictures of my neighborhood, I guess you could say Bonghwasan is next to everyone's apartment, given how they dominate the skyline. It's a small mountain only 353 meters high, and it takes about a half-hour to get to the top. Once there you'll find a small tea field, an exercise area, a convenience store, a spring (약수터), and a nice view of the Jorye-dong and Geumdang neighborhoods. That's Gwangyang in the background, not Suncheon Bay. The first picture below is one of the favorite ones I've ever taken:
You proceed past those sites and make a right to reach the summit. Well, "summit," I mean, as it's only 353 meters. Before you get there you'll find Bongsudae (봉수대), a centuries'-old beacon from whence, I'm going to guess, the mountain draws its name. Beyond the beacon is a little valley---where you'll find a weather monitoring station, a makeshift heliport, and, oddly enough, a little restaurant---and then the summit marker.
Here are two more views of Jorye-dong and "New Downtown." In the final picture, at the bottom-left is Jorye Reservoir, which I'll write a little more about next week. Excited?
Bonghwasan and Jukdobong are perhaps considered part of the same mountain, I don't know, but they're connected by a path. Bonghwasan offers a nice view of what's considered New Downtown, while the observatory on Jukdobong gives you a look at Old Downtown, roughly from the train station up past Suncheon National University. The park itself has several courtyards and statues, such as Palmatap (팔마탑) pictured below, a convenience store, and a pavillion for small concerts and performances.
The highlight is Gangnamcheong (강남청), the three-story observatory from whence the picture below comes. The observatory can be seen from all over Old Downtown, making the park an obvious, literally, tourist site.
I don't recall how to get there from Bonghwasan, but if you're on Jukdobong looking at Palmatap, walk up the path that leads away from the observatory, and bear left when you see the diverging trail.
The river running through town is Dongcheon, whose banks were developed into a cute little park a few years ago. Dongcheon eventually merges with another stream to hit Suncheon Bay to the south, and continues north toward Gurye. Back in this blog's infancy I posted a link to a blog entry about women who walked from Suncheon Station to Gurye Station, using Dongcheon as a guide for part of the way. Here are a few photos taken along the stream on a beautiful day this past spring. In the first and third pictures you'll see Gangnamcheong atop Jukdobong Park.
The caption from my Flickr set for that last photo is:
This is what happens when you take a group of people----who kind of suck at walking and spatial awareness even in the best of circumstances---and put them on stones in the middle of a river.
Totally unrelated, but I noticed that Naver shows "East Suncheon Station" on the map next to Jukdobong Park and Dongcheon. It's a station that was operational from 1936 to 2004, but I had never heard of it previously. I've added it to my list of now-defunct train stations in Suncheon, which now numbers a mind-boggling 9! Jeez, they practically had a subway. I used to want to visit some of the old sites, but without a car or a full day to devote to bus-hopping, it seems near impossible. And what we currently know as Suncheon Station won't be operational for much longer since there is a new building under construction right next door. Sorry, trains of thought---get it, TRAINS!---like that is how I've done nearly 600 posts in just over a year.
If you want to take a look at these places yourself there are a couple of ways to go about it. If you want to go to Jukdobong Park, it might be best to take a cab. If you feel like walking, take the back way as the main road is too thin, crowded with cars, and dangerous. From the bus terminal walk across the river to the east, and you'll see some houses climbing up the mountain, with a temple-looking . . . temple about halfway up. Walk toward that, go up the staircase, and there you are.
If you want to hike Bonghwasan there are two convenient entry points. One is to find building number 103 in the Greenville complex, located across the highway from the reservoir or about two blocks north of the "Coffee n' Holiday" behind Home Plus. There's a visible exercise area and a path up the hill beyond that. It's a bit rocky, though, and steep, so another alternative is to find building 102 of the Shidae complex behind New Core Outlet. There is a gap in the fence, beyond which three paths lead: to the left, to the right, and straight ahead. Follow the one to the left, climb up, and when you reach a "T" atop the hill, make a left. If you make a right there you'll eventually reach a temple, but it's lame.
In conclusion, Suncheon is a land of contrasts. Thank you for reading my paper.