Read the other posts about our vacation:
We are back at our motel room to dry off and relax after a long day of walking and exploring. The room is warm and comfortable, and the kids lay out on the bed mats to watch some funny Korean reality/game shows. Jay grabs us some fried chicken from down the street and we have a picnic on the floor.
The next morning we wake up early so we can go buy our train tickets. We are heading to Danyang and we know we have a family suite reserved at a very nice resort!
I buy our tickets and since the train doesn’t leave for about an hour, we decide to grab some coffee in a dusty little cafe about a block away.
The air is once again serene. Sunshine warms us through the long, rounded windows of the train. This ride is much more viewer-friendly, and the countryside is ripe with grain and harvest.
On this train, we get regular class tickets and are able to rotate our seats to face each other. There are several school/preschool groups on the same car as us who don’t mind making a lot of noise. The girls decide to go back to check out the dining car, and they discover that is also has a small arcade.
The train pulls into Danyang just after 11am. The train station is the smallest we’ve seen yet, with only one ticket counter and a restroom. But outside we can see taxis lined up in the parking lot, ready to take passengers into town.
Danyang – a lazy town that follows the river
Our first objective is to find our hotel and orient ourselves, so we ask our driver to take us to Daemyung Resort. As he drives us up, we all ooh and ahh over the massive complex.
Even though we are early, we have no trouble checking in and getting our key. The hotel is gigantic – but mostly dead. It pays to vacation in October!
We make our way to the 9th floor, down two hallways, and finally find our room door. We open the door – and it’s fabulous! We have a full bathroom, kitchenette, dining table, double bed, and a separate bedroom for the kids. Plus we have a nice view from the large balcony. And all for like 70% off the normal peak-season price for the room.
The kids really wanted to give you a tour of our room (even though it’s loud because the rice cooker was going):
The kids are really excited now, so we organize our stuff, repack my book bag for sightseeing, and head out to explore the hotel and the town.
The hotel is 17 stories – with mostly rooms above the first floor. The main lobby is connected to a fancy restaurant, a clothing shop, and the parking garage. But the basement of the hotel is where all the action is happening. Underneath the complex there is a burger joint, 2 Korean traditional restaurants, a cafeteria (where you can get more “fast” Korean food like fried chicken), a grocery market, swim shop, laundry, internet room, arcade, and most importantly – AquaWorld.
The indoor spa and waterpark is what the kids have been the most excited about this entire time. We consider going right away, but realize we will only get a few hours of swim time in before the kids would be starving hungry.
So instead, we head out to explore the town a little and find something to eat.
The first thing we notice are the amazing views of the mountains and river.
Danyang is a long, lazy town, stretched out along the river and major roadways that cut through the land. Tourists are common, as suggested by the numerous resorts and motels in the area. Yet agriculture and business are also very much alive here. The streets are clean, the people are friendly, and the atmosphere is gentile.
Opposite our hotel is a lovely riverside walkway. We find ajusshis playing Go-Stop, a large stage set on the river bank complete with stadium seating, and people paragliding above the mountain peaks.
Further down into the main part of town, we discover a giant covered market. This area is famous for the unique garlic grown here – due to the limestone deposits in the soil. The market is a testament to the hard work and economy of the small farmer in South Korea – 3 aisles of nothing but garlic and other produce, plus 2 more lanes of mom & pop eateries, cooking supplies, and other goods.
We grab some grub for everyone at a few of the stands in the market – tteokbokki, odeng, rice balls, and chicken on a stick. Everyone seems to be satisfied with that, so I suggest finding our way to one of the many caves in the area.
Towards the end of town, our taxi driver turns onto a bridge over the river. Just exactly on the other side is a string of caves that ultimately lead up to the entrance into Sobaeksan national park. Our driver drops us off at the first cave – Gosudongul. We arrive just in time, before they stop the last tours of the day.
Outside the cave are stands and stands of souvenir vendors, selling basically the same stuff. At the entrance of the cave, we buy our tickets and head up the stairs.
It stays an even, cool temperature year-long in the cave. Very little photos are allowed, and no flash so I don’t get any pictures with my iPod We are far too busy crouching and climbing anyways, and I’m afraid of dropping it down into the enormous caverns.
The “tour” – which is really just a guided pathway – takes us 40 minutes. But it isn’t 40 minutes of standing and admiring the natural structures. We are pushed along by people behind us, and traverse through tiny holes, up flight after flight of stairs, and down a giant spiral staircase that seems never-ending. At a few points, I get short of breath from the damp air. Gaius can’t do all the stairs, so Jay and I take turns carrying him and carrying the book bag. The girls are having a blast though – this is the first cave that Denna has experienced and probably the first one Raven can remember.
The cave is magnificently huge. I think we go up at least 5 stories into the thing before we make our descent towards the exit.
When we exit, I stop to buy a bandanna that has the map of the area on it. We don’t want to lug home a bunch of stuff and this will be a perfect reminder of our trip here. We look for a bus, but don’t find any. There is one taxi driver standing outside his car but when we ask him for a ride he says he is hired for the day.
Eventually, he takes pity on us though and calls the people who hired him. Eodi ka-go shipeoyo? Where do you want to go? -he asks. He seems relieved that our destination is only a short jaunt into town so he can be back to mind his main duties. We thank him profusely at the entrance to the resort. 고맙습니다! (ko-map-suimnida)
Back at the hotel, we buy some rice, eggs, and a few other groceries to make breakfast the next morning. Then we eat at the cafeteria. I have jajang bap, Jay has jajangmyun, and the kids choose fried chicken. How they can eat so much fried chicken I don’t know – but I make sure to have them eat some fruit later in the hotel room.
We relax in our room. I do a little laundry and hang it out to dry on the balcony. The kids play with the activity books and toys they brought along. And we discuss our plans for the next couple days.