Enjoying the river from the stadium seating

Enjoying the river from the stadium seating

Previous vacation posts:

 A day at the spa

We’ve done a lot of walking, hiking, and travelling in the past few days and the kids are starting to wear down and get cranky. After the kids go to bed, Jay and I discuss want I still want to see, what we should do for the kids, and all our options. Since we haven’t paid for train tickets home on a specific date, we decide to stay in Danyang an extra day. Tomorrow will be a relaxing day at Aquaworld and then we can do some more exploring Friday.


Today is the day! The kids are so excited about going down to the spa and water park that they want to forgo breakfast and don their swimsuits. But since we don’t know how early it opens, we persuade them to eat. The girls explore the hotel a little while Jay and I get ourselves and Gaius ready to go.

I didn’t bring any pool toys or floaties with us, so our first stop is the souvenir/swim shop to get a floatie ring for Denna and a riding floatie for Gus. Then it’s off to buy our tickets to Aquaworld!

Since it is the off season – only the indoor park is open. Our tickets are really a plastic and metal key/pay card that straps to your wrist. This opens your shoe locker (can’t have shoes past the main entrance!), your clothes locker, the gate to get into the pool, and it also can be used to pay for snacks and rentals inside the park.

Here is how the park is set up:

  1. The first area hold the shoe lockers. You take off your shoes at the ticket booth and step up onto the platform to go into the shoe locker room. Left of the counter is the men’s locker room and to the right is women’s.
  2. From the shoe lockers, you enter the clothes lockers. There are benches, massage chairs, an area for drying and combing your hair after swimming, and showers to wet yourself before going into the pool area.
  3. After you remove your clothes and put all your valuable items in the inner lockers, you can either go into the 찜질방 (jjimjilbang) aka naked bathhouse – or the main pool and hot spring tub area.
  4. The main pool has various jetted areas, a spouting fountain, winding paths to traverse, a toddler pool, sauna, 5 different hot tubs, and 2 water slides areas – regular slides and slides that require 2 people on a raft.

The main pool area also has a rental shop for swimming items and drinks, a snack area/cafeteria where they serve hamburgers and soda, and plenty of lifeguards.

One of the first comments the girls make is that we are the only foreigners at the pool. We all feel a little self conscious because we are so much larger that everyone our age. Those feeling quickly pass though as we relax and swim together.

In between taking turns with Jay giving Gaius floatie rides, we check out the hot spring baths, water slides, and massage jets. The kids are able to go with us everywhere and so we truly spend a day together as a family. There are very few people when we arrive, but by noon it starts to get a little busier. By the time we are ready to leave, there is maybe 20 families. It is hard to imagine how full the park gets on a weekend. The girls mostly have the pool and water slides to themselves because the kids are mainly toddlers and stay in the wading pool.

We stop to have some lunch in the snack bar and then swim for a couple more hours. About 2pm we decide our skin is wrinkled enough and head back into the bathhouse to clean up and change.

The nice thing about the bathhouse is that, while there is no privacy and everyone is naked, they provide almost everything you need. Combs, hair dryers, towels, soap, scrubbies, and even lotion and perfume.

A beautiful fountain on the river walk

A beautiful fountain on the river walk

After we meet at the ticket counter once again, and after paying our tab from our payment key, we make a quick trip up to our room for some warmer clothes and head out to walk the river once again.

We stop at a local grocery store to get a few things for snacks. The girls working the register give the kids each a treat and practice their English. I’m guessing they are high school girls.

My family’s obsession with fried chicken wins once again, and we stop to order some before grabbing a taxi back to the hotel. The evening is spent relaxing, playing games, and spending time with each other. It is a much needed rest and we are recharged for the next day.

Natural wonders of Danyang


Pots of fermenting gochujang

Pots of fermenting gochujang

Although my dream was to visit Guinsa temple while we were here, the tourist information tells us that it involves a lot of walking and climbing to get there. I’m afraid that Gaius won’t handle that well, so we ask the front desk to call a taxi to drive us to Seongmun – the stone gate – one of the eight scenic views of Danyang. It is close by, and there are several other sites in the immediate area.

lunch on high

Having lunch halfway up the climb

When we arrive, we have a great view of the river and another scenic spot – Dodam Sambong (three peak island). There are tour buses filling the parking lot and at the other end we find a strip of little eateries and shops for tourists. At the end of this strip are some tents and temporary structures.

A lady comes out to greet us from the tents – speaking perfect English. She tells us that she used to live in America, but gave up her green card long ago to come back to her home country. Now she makes traditional foods – fermented gochujang and pickled garlic. We tell her that we are headed towards the stone gate, and she suggests taking a picnic. She helps us buy rice, seaweed slices (gim), and gives us a sample of her garlic pickles. We thank her and head up towards the gate.

To get to the gate, we have to climb a giant flight of stairs that goes straight up the mountain. About halfway up, there is a platform where we stop to have our picnic. Right after we finish our food, a group of very jolly ajushis and ajummas arrived and livened up the place.

Raven got some video of the scenic view of the river – this give you an idea of how high the staircase was:

our family at the stone gate

Our family at the stone gate

The legend of the stone gate is that an enchantress dropped her hairpin while getting water in the river. She came down and loved the area so much that she decided to stay and live there. The shape of the gate is the shape of the enchantress bending over.

But the real interesting part of the gate to the girls is how it was formed. Scientists believe that it was once a larger part of the small cave found just below the gate on the mountain. At one time, part of it collapsed and only the stone archway remained – leaving a space for plant-life to grow prolifically on the cliff side.

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