Out in the mountains of Gapyeong is a surprisingly big town, with pensions of all kinds, cafes, and restaurants. It was really surprising to suddenly find ourselves in a somewhat dead but lively town. Maybe it was the wrong season, or Sunday’s aren’t particularly busy, but there were little to know people around and traffic was a breeze. (When we didn’t go the wrong way on the hilly mountain roads)
A friend of mine drove us to the garden and we parked relatively close to the front gate, before setting off the explore the botanical garden. It was kinda cold and a lot of the plants were dead. Even in the green house all the flowers from the chrysanthemum exhibit were wilting, but the plants still seemed happy. We visited the 1000 year old juniper tree, walked past several frozen ponds, and roped off pathways and got a good feel of what was going to be lit up and what wasn’t before making our way to the tea house at the edge of the garden to await nightfall.
I ordered pine needle tea and we split some traditional snacks and just enjoyed the warmth and atmosphere. The pine needle tea I ordered was delicious and had a strong but lovely aroma. The garden has events all year long, but with Winter the main draw is the lighting festival. The festival started on December 4 and will go until early March and is every day but Sundays.
The garden opened in May of 1996 and has been growing since. It’s been a set location for films like “Letter”, “Detective K”, and “Obsessed” and k-dramas like “Smile Again, Dong Hae”, “You’re Beautiful”, and “A Love to Kill”.
As soon as the sun started to set the garden got a lot busier, but since we knew where everything was we were able to look around pretty quickly and managed to leave before it got even more crowded.