In All Things There is Beauty

I’m a bit delayed on the post from yesterday as we had a VERY long day and an even longer night. It was Sunday so we were able to have some fun…and what great fun we had!!!

We woke up to another gorgeous day…the sun was shining…the weather was warming…and we were lucky enough to spend the entire day outside. Mind you…part of the outside experience resulted in a 2 hour trip into a hole (more on that later).

As we departed the hotel we decided to finally take a photo with the Batmobile. It’s such a sweet ride so we had to capture the beauty in photos.

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We began our day at Farm Herbnara. What a spectacular experience!! The farm was started 23 years ago by an impassioned businessman and his wife. They literally gave up everything…their jobs and all their possessions for their desire to move to the countryside to start a farm. And what a farm they started!! Herbnara is literally a flower lovers paradise! Not everything was blooming “yet” but the beauty that surrounded us was serene.

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Everywhere you looked there was a birdhouse. The colors were so bright and colorful. It’s no wonder the birds seem to love it here.

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We arrived fairly early and the place was relatively quiet. That quickly changed as the tourists arrived en mass. What a nice surprise and a joy to see everyone enjoying such a lovely space. I can only imagine what the gardens look like in the spring and summer. I may just have to make a return trip…

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We were escorted through the property by the owner, who took us on what I would call a journey…a journey through the gardens…a journey through his business…a journey through his life. This was a man so full of life at the young age of 73. His excitement and passion for his business and the joy it brought to others was most evident in his smile. You could see in his every action how proud he is of this place.

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The creativity of the gardens was endless. I must look at implementing some of these displays when I get home.

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They have gotten very creative on attracting all kinds of guests…especially the smaller kind.

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Overall the visit was most enjoyable and I even ended up with some fresh tea that they make right on the farm. I can’t wait to try it!!

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We ended our visit to Herbnara with a most yummy lunch. This was literally the best Korean pancake I have ever had. With the buckwheat and the fresh vegetables, I was in heaven. I could have made an entire meal out of the pancake alone. Fortunately more food came as we had salad and chicken cooked with fresh herbs from the farm. We enjoyed ourselves and left with happy tummies.

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Following our farm visit we headed to the southern part of Pyeongchang County where we visited the Donggang Freshwater Fish Ecology Center. This is a great facility, telling the story of freshwater fish, including trout. Trout is a treasured resource in Korea. There is an entire festival dedicated to trout that runs for 60 days from December to February.

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The Center hosts school aged children for retreats, teaching them all about the fish and the ecology of the region. What a great way to engage little minds!

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Our final tour of the day took us through the earth…walking, climbing, kneeling and crawling 2 hours through a 1,800 meter-long limestone cave named Baengnyong Cave. We donned the sexiest of outfits to honor the occasion.

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In order to reach the cave we had to take a boat along the Donggang River to the base, then ascend several rocky steps to the entrance. Apparently you can walk the pathway along the rocks to get to the cave, but the boat seems much easier and safer.

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Notice the lovely red suits, goulashes and hard hats. 🙂

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With our headlights in tow we ventured in. We weren’t allowed to take photos, however our trusty tour guide (aka Park Ranger) took some on our behalf.

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I’ve never been in a cave before so it was quite the experience. My headlamp batteries were low so the first 30 minutes of the trek were a little hairy. Once I finally figured out the problem, I quickly coerced our guide into giving me new batteries…and I was as good as new. We saw stalagmites and stalactites. We saw shapes in the stone that resembled all sorts of things…from fish, to a skull, to a piano and many others (PI). It’s truly quite amazing what hundreds, if not thousands or even millions of years of water and earth will do when left untouched. I have to admit…the best part (besides the shimmying on my belly through some tiny passageways) was the moment when we were 1,800 meters into the earth and we all turned off our headlamps. I can’t describe the darkness. There was no light, there was nothing! It was amazing and surreal at the same time!  I truly wish I could have captured the experience with my own camera but we couldn’t risk damaging the cave. It is National Monument #260 after all!

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And we survived. This is the shot after we emerged from the hole. We even gave Souvik the award for being the dirtiest.

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I have to admit, the beauty of the area around this cave was one of the most stunning I have ever seen. I can only imagine what it looks like when the leaves are green or the fall colors are shining through. The Donggang River winds through the mountains in this area. The water is calm and the beauty is endless.

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We were even lucky enough to see our first cherry blossoms since arriving in Korea. I do prefer pink cherry blossoms, but the white ones were utterly stunning. They’re such majestic trees and I’m fortunate enough to have now seen them in three different countries. Lucky me!

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The top of Jangamsan Mountain provided amazing views for our final stop of the evening. After a quick (and cold) stop…a little jumping helped to warm the bones.

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The views were spectacular! We could see all of Pyeongchang-gun (city). The Pyeongchang River winds around the city making you feel like you’re living among the streams of the mountains. The water is so clear you could almost drink it. It truly is a beautiful place to behold.

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After a late arrival back at the hotel…I cooked my specialty…spaghetti all’amitriciana. I felt it necessary to bless my new friends with my Italian best. Of course it is the only thing Vince lets me cook. Ha! 🙂 It was a bit different than my usual recipe due to a lack of pancetta but it was incredibly good and was enjoyed by all. It especially made for a great meal while we worked until the wee hours.

Today (Monday) was full of meetings yet again. I met with a ski shop owner this morning and we talked shop. What a wonderful experience to chat with someone on a topic so close to my heart. It’s amazing to learn about how a ski culture thrives in another region of the world. It’s such a great opportunity to bring my own personal experiences to this engagement!

We met with Pyeongchang County this afternoon for our first official checkpoint. The good news is…we’re on track for our project! Such hard work to get to this point feels like it’s finally paying off. The team is incredibly excited and looking forward to really digging in over the next week. We are planning to do our absolute best to get all our work done in time for some fun over the weekend.

With that I will bid you annyeonghi jumuseyo (goodnight in Korean)!!

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