When my school was trying to decide what we were going to do for our teachers trip we were given a list to vote on. Most of the staff picked Marie Antoinette, but the other items included a nearby cave, a fancy dinner or going to the silver grass festival at the Sky Park.
I picked Marie Antoinette because despite my Korean not being that good I’m a huge fan of musicals. Plus I figured I might be able to find the plot and the story online so it wouldn’t be too difficult to follow along. You know how that went if you read my post.
The only other one that seemed to really draw me in was the silver grass festival in Seoul. It was my second choice, but I wasn’t concerned because I figured I could still go on my own. So I did, and oh boy do I wish I’d done some research before hand, because yikes.
Haneul Park also known as the Sky Park is inside another park called World Cup park 월드컵공원. World Cup Park was created in 2002 near the world cup stadium and is a showcase for how we can help bring back the environment from utter human destruction. Before 2002 the grounds that World Cup park inhabits was a landfill that held over 92 million tons of garbage. Now this old landfill is home to 5 small parks that make up World Cup Park.
The one that everyone flocks in autumn is Haneul Park. Haneul Park is a grassland with the highest elevation of the five parks. And this is a point you need to keep in mind if you ever visit. It has 22 look out points which give you a great view of Seoul (if the air is clean).
But here’s the thing, being the tallest point in the park means you have to get up there somehow. The bus I took dropped me off outside of World Cup park and I had to guess which way to go. I ended up being lucky and mostly just followed everyone else because the bus had been insanely crowded and I assumed everyone had the same idea of going to the autumn grass festival. I was right. The problem however was with the bus we took, it dropped us off in a spot where the easiest way up was to climb (apparently 291 steps) up a zigzagging staircase to the top. Thankfully each flight of stairs ended with a platform where you could pause and rest, but every time I thought I was done more of the staircase would appear. I was really happy that despite the cool autumn weather I had a fan and water. I wasn’t the only one who found the never ending stair case (almost as bad as staircase island outside of Ulleung-do) annoying, almost everyone else was groaning whenever they turned the corner on the flight of stairs as well.
At the top of the stairs is a resting space, one of those 22 lookouts over the city of Seoul. There’s several spots to sit down and even a bathroom. But if you continue forward you’re in the first bunch of silver grass. The silver grass grows quite tall and gives off that feeling of a nice rural autumn. It reminded me a bit of home mixed with The Wizard of Oz. However do note that the grass is home to all sorts of wild creatures and there are several signs warning of snakes, so don’t go venturing off the path and be careful.
The next big draw to the area was the shorter grass. This grass is called muhly grass and depending on where you are in the park it’s either a beautiful pinkish or a beautiful purple. The muhly grass however is very popular for photos. So the area gets very crowded. And many many people ignore the signs which say not to cross over the ropes. I saw too many people climbing over the ropes to get pictures, who then crushing the grass. You could see where the grass was flattened because people were ignoring the signs and it was, disheartening. There’s a couple spots around that they’ve added for you to try and get a nice picture without climbing over the ropes.
Another note is that depending on how you try to take your pictures will change the vibrancy of the color of the grass. I found if I took a picture of just the grass it tended to be lighter in color but when I went to take a selfie it was darker. Not sure why. It’s a really cool grass, alien like that I’ve never seen before and despite all the people and the workout to get there it was worth it. It’s the thinnest most silky looking grass I’ve ever seen, almost like cotton candy or even spiderwebs thin.
On my way out of the park, after passing through even more silver grass I spotted people in a long line waiting. I wondered why and then realized they were waiting for the shuttle to take them back down the mini mountain to catch the bus. The line seemed too long with no shuttle in sight so I decided to hike down the hill myself. I regretted this. Soon I was passed by about 12 shuttles on my way to the bus and it took me about an hour or so to get there because I was leaving via a different bus on the other end of the park. It was frustrating. I’m not sure how often the shuttle comes or exactly where it drops you off but it seems much faster and more convenient then hiking your way out of the park. If you can find one to take you up, which is probably what my school teacher’s field trip would’ve done, it’s a lot more convenient. Unless you also want to get a work out in.
I also highly suggest going in the morning. I went in the afternoon and it was very crowded. Not just in the park but also on the bus to and from the park.
The silver grass festival is generally in October, and during the seven day festival the park is open later, until about 10pm. But the grass continues after the festival. Outside of festival hours the park is open from 9am until 6pm.