Last weekend we decided to go to a place we had never heard of, in hopes of finding a new unique spot that we could explore and perhaps make a hyperlapse video of. (If you want to see one of our latest hyperlapse videos click here) We sometimes find gems by checking out random places not commonly heard of, and then there are the times we find duds. That’s all a part of the adventure, right?
We ended up in Ilsan, about 40 minutes north east of Seoul. I read about a hanok village that had a lighting festival going on. With our previous experiences at Jeonju Hanok Village, which we absolutely adore, and the Garden of the Morning Calm’s lighting festival, which is spectacular to see, we had high hopes! We shouldn’t have had too high of expectations though because I actually used to work in Ilsan when we previously lived in Korea and had never heard of the place probably for a reason. But with our curiosity we had to check it out to see if it was a secret gem we had never heard of.
After a 20-minute subway ride and another 20 minutes in a herky jerky cab ride that mad us both sick, we arrived. It was still late in the afternoon with about an hour until sunset. We paid our 9,000 won admission, which we weren’t thrilled about paying in the first place because that price seemed a bit steep for the size of the complex. To put in perspective, it’s only 3,000 won to visit Seoul’s main palace where you get free admission to two museums and a huge complex to explore, so yeah, 9,000 won seemed a bit pricey.
To give a bit of a background, we love Korean hanok style houses. We actually fantasize about building a custom hanok with a fireplace on a mountain in California right near the slopes where we can spend the days snowboarding and the evenings relaxing on the heated floors. So typically we are pretty happy about wandering through these hanoks and letting our imaginations run wild.
The cluster of hanok houses in Ilsan were aesthetically appealing, and I especially enjoyed the view of the main pathway decorated with red and blue lanterns, but as we got closer to the buildings we realized they were hollow inside and unfinished.
At this point, we didn’t think much, we figured there would be more to see, especially with the admission fee. As we continued to stroll around we noticed buildings that looked like they were supposed to be home to cafes and small shops, all were empty, shelled out rooms with nothing inside. This was a bit disappointing to see and we felt like we walked upon some sort of movie set, which if this were the reality would be more interesting, but it’s not.
As we continued to search for more we ended up at a bonfire where there were tents and food you could buy. It was nice to see signs of life. We continued up the hill to find a small display of Korean lanterns that were in the shape of people dressed in traditional Korean clothing.
All of this took about 10 minutes to see. The two of us looked at eachother and said, “now what?” We supposed we should use this time to try and take some photos, afterall practice makes perfect. Then we decided we would challenge ourselves to make this boring ass place look cool through a photo. You can be the judge of that.
To make matters worse, remember that 20-minute cab ride to the village? Well now we were in the middle of nowhere with no taxis and about a 20-minute walk in the dark through the countryside to the nearest bus stop. FAIL. But we didn’t let that ruin our day.
The two of us laughed about how this evening date ended up being and both shrugged it off with the mindset that all our adventures can’t be winners.
We think this is a great reminder while traveling or in our daily lives. Part of the adventure of life is to try new things and failing sometimes. Sometimes you’ll experience or find something incredible or out of the ordinary and other times you will fall flat on your face or feel BLAH. But the important thing is to keep pushing yourself to try new things, visit new places, create a life where you’re constantly trying new things without knowing whether it’s going to be a success or not. Among the losers, you will find a few winners.
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