Sunsets at Haneul Sky Park and Naksan Park
A second visit to Haneul Sky Park 하늘공원 for me, at sunset. Here is where I chronicled my first visit, in comparison. The time of the day wasn’t the only difference though, this round a friend (not the mister) and I took public transport (not taxi) and walked to the park. And boy, it was quite a walk in rather cold weather. It was after all our first day in Seoul, and we were both not quite acclimatised to the local weather as yet.
In any case, this has been written to death all over the internet: take the Seoul Subway to World Cup Stadium Station (on Line 6) and get out from Exit 1. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I’m really not so good at giving blow-by-blow directions but I’ll try to give a general direction. After exiting, turn right and walk around the stadium (it doesn’t matter if you turn left, that’s what we did – just have to walk a little bit further – the stadium is circular so it will eventually get you there). If you are lost, look up and around. Haneul Sky Park is on a hill so look for one and walk towards it. Otherwise look out for signs or follow the crowd (if you are visiting during peak eulalia season).
This should be the sight that greets you, indicating that you are at Haneul Sky Park. Almost, that is. There’s this little chore that you still need to overcome, the stairs. 291 of it. For those of you who do not read Korean, you see the white sign with some Korean characters and a red arrow (타는곳 –>)? That is the direction you should take if you wish to take the tram up to the sky park instead of climbing stairs. We did just that in order to arrive at the sky park in the fastest time possible.
The way up costs 2,000₩ per person and 1,000₩ for the way down, which translates into 3,000₩ for a two-way ticket. Don’t be deterred if you see a long queue; it moves fairly quickly and the way up takes about 5-10 minutes. Definitely a good option if you’re in a hurry or not up to climbing the stairs.
It was a beautiful day, and the photographer in me wished we had arrived at the park in good time since there wasn’t much time till sunset. With no time to linger around and enjoy the sight, I started shooting away, willing time to pass slowly.
It being a cold weekday close to sunset somewhat worked to our advantage; we had little competition at picturesque spots.
Admittedly, the pictures didn’t turn out as gorgeous as the ones I took during my first visit two years and two days ago. Winter came early this year, and with that it meant that the eulalia wilted earlier as well. Nevertheless, Haneul Sky Park is an alluring green space (can’t imagine it is actually resting atop an old landfill), romantic and almost magical as night fell. We met more than a few couples who were there on a date, cuddling close to one another due to the cold. It was adorable and endearing, and reminded me much of my own dating days with the mister. Unfortunately after more than a decade of marriage, we are not longer so lovey-dovey.
Surprisingly, this set of pictures taken at a viewpoint overlooking Seoul turned out looking gorgeous. I particularly loved the first picture where a group of friends huddled close together to check out the wefie they just took. A completely unplanned shot – I just happened to be at the right place at the right moment.
My poor unsuspecting travel partner and ex-classmate from my Korean Language Class had no idea I was sneakingly took a picture of her as she tiptoed, trying to get a good angle. It’s fun to travel with friends who are not camera-shy since both the mister and I are. Heh.
As it rapidly grew darker, we decided not to head for the circular viewing tower. It was a lot darker than what the picture above looked like; in fact I was surprised when I was post-processing the pictures and saw what the camera captured. Made me wonder if we could have gone to the viewing tower after all, and still be able to capture something decent.
While we did buy a two-way tram ticket, the long queue deterred us from waiting in line, not when it was turning colder by the second. A walk down the stairs sounded a better idea, and we did exactly that. Along the way, we were rewarded with a splendid night view of Seoul and Hangang River while at the same time keeping ourselves warm from descending the stairs. Well… no much, but certainly better than queueing in the cold. :D:
The third person of our travelling party arrived the next morning, and we were ready to explore that one quintessential Korean drama film location – Naksan Park 낙산공원. If you watch enough Korean dramas, this place will look very familiar at some point.
A favourite filming location aside, Naksan (literally known as ‘Camel Hill, attributed by its camel hump-like appearance) is a part of the Seoul Fortress Wall 한양도성 trail that runs a total of 18.6km around the centre of Seoul. First completed in 1396, it was restored and reconstructed several times over time due to collapse, damage or neglect. The fortress wall that we now see is by no means the original wall that stood, since not much of it withstood the passage of time. That said, it represents the history of Seoul just as much as the palaces and gates, places of interest visitors to South Korea know more about.
Naksan could be approached from two subway stations. We chose to approach from Hyehwa Station Exit 2 (on Line 4), fully intending to walk through Ihwa Mural Village 이화 벽화마을. But boy, the slopes were so steep our plans changed along the way. Instead we headed straight for the park since it was the once place all three of us wanted badly to visit.
It was once again my idea to watch the sunset at the park. I found the above picture particularly interesting, with the ancient fortress wall juxtaposed against the soaring buildings of modern Seoul.
Naksan has appeared in many Korean dramas, but the only one that I can vividly remember happens to be the episode in OCN’s Black where Go Ara and Kim Dongjun’s characters were rushing their way there to save a women who was attempting to commit suicide by throwing herself off the hill. Black is an interesting drama, watch it if you have not.
One of our biggest worry during the itinerary planning phase was how we were going to descend from the park. We even explored the option of asking our hotel to call up a taxi for us at a designated time to pick us up, but were told that vehicles could not go all the way to the top. They were right in a way, but to be exact, vehicles could almost reach the top so it was a viable option that the hotel didn’t fully explore.
Afraid that it was going to be a difficult descent, we commenced our way towards Dongdaemun subway station before it turned completely dark. The path wasn’t so bad, they were not properly laid as we walked further and further from the park but in the very least, there were dim lights to illuminate the way for us.
We took our time to carefully manoeuvre the path, stopping oft to take more captivating pictures of Seoul’s landscape in particular Namsan Tower (N Seoul Tower) in the far distance.
Contrary to our initial fears, we arrived at the foot of the hill safe and sound, made good time and worked up an appetite for dinner. It was all in all a rather interesting and fun walk, so much so that the mister wanted to experience it for himself after I shared some pictures with him.
The next round I’ll probably explore hiking the whole trail.