Some friends and I were talking and we realized that three of us have birthday’s in February and we set about trying to make some fun plans. Different ideas were tossed back and forth over the months leading up to February. Maybe a trip somewhere. I wanted to retry going to New Zealand. (Quick does not work with New Zealand at all) We tossed about the idea of going to Jeju or doing a road trip since one of my friends had a car. There was an art park out near Wonju I wanted to go to and a friend of mine out in the mountains always had lists of places she wanted to take me. She suggested the coastal roads to the south, the tea fields of Boseong and a mountain a little bit further north than we were. There was also a giant Lonely Planet sign at Yongsan station suggesting a visit to Jeonju for the food. We also toyed with the idea of either Everland or Lotte World.
But as time came closer and the pandemic started picking up speed and things started closing or getting cancelled the idea of going to a packed amusement park seemed like a bad idea as did going away over night. We ended up going north to Pocheon. We picked two places: the Pocheon Art Valley and Herb Island.
It was a long day. I got up early and made my way about an hour east to Bundang to meet my friend who had a car. I was so tired (and early) that I bought myself one of my favorite coffees in the convenience store. It was something I hadn’t had since before the summer since the caffeine had been exasperating the stress I was under at work. For coffee fans it’s probably not really coffee. More like a cold chocolate with a tinge of coffee flavor. But I had forgotten how much I missed them.
We picked up two more friends on our way up north and I sat excitedly with a cold bag full of strawberries and slices of homemade birthday cake. (see previous post for a picture of the cake)
Tickets were 5,000 won per person with an option to take the monorail. To add on the monorail was 4,500 round trip or 3,500 one way. We decided it wasn’t worth it and started to head forward. However I took one look at the giant hill and turned around and bought myself a monorail ticket. On my birthday I’d been on Seoul trying to check things off on my list and made my way to the One Piece cafe in Hongdae, which is no longer a cafe but like a photo shoot space, which didn’t sound fun while I was by myself. Bummed I took a picture of the outside (It’s the Thousand Sunny aka a giant boat) before turning to leave, not realizing that there was a giant hole in the pavement and fell, hard. A man ran over and helped me up and asked if I was okay. And in the moment I was embarrassed more than anything and thanked him and said I was fine. However I wasn’t. I didn’t break anything, thankfully, but my knee looked a bit nightmarish and required some very painful cleaning and gigantic band-aids for quite awhile after. And since I was still recovering climbing up a long hill was a big no for me. So I took the monorail while my friends walked up the hill.
The monorail is nice. I don’t regret taking it back and forth. I do think I could’ve handled taking it down the hill, but it was nice and peaceful. Plus I got a different view that I don’t think you could get while walking.
One of the first things we did when we all met up again was to head to the Pocheon Art Valley Astronomical science center. It’s located at the top of the hill.
It’s almost all in Korean but there are some interactive portions. Like magnet darts you can throw at the planets, a couple interactive screens and some telescopes.
It’s a bit small but still a fun space. One of my friends got tired though since he got up so early and just slept in the lobby while we explored. It wasn’t particularly busy or crowded so he had a good nap for a bit. However note that sometimes the rooftop is open with a lot of telescopes available to check out the skies. They have different time slots available for visiting the astronomical observation room (aka the roof) as well as the Planetarium.
Please note that the Astronomical Science Center is free but you do have to pay to enter the art valley. If you want to enjoy the stars at night you will need to purchase your ticket and enter the park before they close. If you want to use this you will need to talk with the front desk before hand and get a free ticket from them at the lobby of the building. Their number is 538-3488 if you’d like to call ahead and just make sure they’re still doing it that day. If you want to read more you can check out their website here. (Make sure in the language section it’s in your language as the text is all part of images and thus won’t translate if you’re using a website translator. Languages available are Korean, English and Chinese.)
After exploring the science center and waking up our friend we headed out to see the star of the space. The Pocheon Art Valley was built in a former granite quarry, one of the few in South Korea. We headed for the Cheonjuho lake for a beautiful view. The lake is made up of spring water and has a maximum depth of 20 meters (65.6 feet). It’s not a lake for sport or swimming, instead it’s full of protected nature. If you visit in the summer there’s all sorts of critters you can see swimming around and enjoying the lake. Common animals that call Cheonjuho home are crawfish, salamanders and minnows.
You can climb up and around for another view at the observation deck (Sky Garden of Hope/ Doleum Stairway). It’s made up of a bunch of stairs and a spiral staircase which with my knee was a big no. But if you do go up to the observation deck, before going head into one of the shop near Cheonjuho lake. There you can buy paper to write your wishes and then when you get to the top you can write them down and add them to the others at the Sotdae which is at the end of the path in the observation deck. I would suggest, especially to go up here if you’re visiting in the spring since there is a wild flower park at the peak at about 255 meters (836 feet). But the above view and the little level dock view was beautiful, even in winter and partially frozen. There are also waterfalls that I’m sure is beautiful in the summer.
After taking pictures and enjoying the Chunjuho lake it was around lunch and I was starving. We walked a little bit more and found a cute cafe called the Lookout Cafe which is a lopsided slanted building that seems to be across from the Doleum Stairway. It looked cute but they had only drinks and snacks. Nothing substantial to make a meal out of. I tried their only sandwich which was called a Taiwanese sandwich. It was ham and sweet cream and the sweetness of it was not my thing. There is a restaurant but we eventually decided to eat elsewhere. I suggest bringing your own food and maybe having a picnic somewhere.
The Pocheon art valley has a lot to do and seems to be pretty family friendly. Do note that there are some nude statues but it’s similar to what you’d see in an art museum, not like the nsfw Loveland in Jeju. There’s the museum, all of the art, the beautiful views of the lake and the granite surrounded by mountains and they also host different exhibits as well as concerts and events on their stage. The information about performances is in Korea but you can check if your visit will correspond with a show here.
The Pocheon Art Valley is open for the summer season (March-October) from 9am until 10pm. For the winter season (November-February) they are open from 9am until 9pm. However they stop letting people in and selling tickets 2 hours before they close. The art valley is also dog friendly. You can even ride the monorail with your dog so long as it is in a pet carrier for the ride.
The Pocheon Art Valley is also not the easiest to get to without a car. It is possible however, you will just have to take a series of buses since Pocheon doesn’t seem to have a train station. There is a intercity bus terminal in downtown Pocheon that you can then switch for a local bus that will take you to the art valley. Or you can take an 11 minute taxi ride from the Pocheon intercity bus terminal. Which should cost about 11,400 won.