Fascinating pink has been selected as a color leading fashion trends in the spring of 2017. How about following this trend not only in your fashion style but also on a spring excursion? With Korean azaleas, it is not going to be difficult at all.
Koreans have a special connection with azaleas. The flower appears in various literary works, such as “Azaleas” by Kim So-wol. It grows abundantly in the wild in many places you would not expect to see it.
The sight of sprouting green shoots and the sweet scent of spring in the April air encourage many Koreans to take trips to view flowers. Let us set off for the places where you can fully enjoy the bold pink of the Korean azalea, a flower strongly associated in Korea with the spring.
1. Goryeo Mountain on Ganghwa Island
In the middle of April every year, the Goryeo Mountain Azalea Festival is organized on Goryeo Mountain of Ganghwa Island. In 2017, the event takes place from April 12 to 23. It is one of the most famous azalea festivals in the country because, due to its proximity to Seoul, it is easily accessible and also because azaleas there tend to stay in bloom longer than in other regions.
Since the azalea habitat on Goryeo Mountain is located at the peak of the mountain, at the latitude of 436 meters above sea level, its pink color is very rich and intense. In addition, it makes the mountain a great trekking destination. Five different hiking trails lead to the top of the mountain, each with its own name and merits. You can select the trail matching your preferences and enjoy the beautiful blooming scenery at the mountain top.
In addition, the festival hosts exhibitions of art and offers various experience activities, such as face painting with azaleas.
Do Not Miss: Azalea Tea
Azaleas can be eaten raw but they can also be made into a tea with multiple benefits for one’s health. To make the tea, remove the stems of azaleas, leave the flowers and leaves to dry, add some honey, and put in a jar for about 15 days. Azalea tea is said to be particularly good for bronchial tubes.
2. Yeongchwi Mountain in Yeosu
The place where azaleas open their flowers the earliest in Korea is Yeongchwi Mountain. Located in Yeosu, it is one of the three largest habitats of azaleas in Korea, along with Hwawang Mountain and Muhak Mountain in South Gyeongsang Province. At Yeongchwi Mountain, the flower has grown unrestricted for over 40 years and now covers the territory of 330,000 m2, which corresponds to the size of 140 soccer fields.
Various events—such as mountain concerts and rituals to pray to the mountain spirit for peaceful travel—hosted between the azalea fields attract many travelers. As a reward from reaching the peak, you have a full view of the sea surrounding the flowers. It looks as if someone painted a picture using just two colors, pink and blue, and the view is truly breathtaking.
A courtesy shuttle bus runs between the event venues. In addition to enjoying the mountain and sea views, visitors can experience a marine cable car, marine rail bike, night city tour, and many other local attractions.
Do Not Miss: Pan-fried Sweet Rice Cake with Azalea Petals
In traditional Korea, people enjoyed the arrival of spring by going on spring picnics where they had pan-fried sweet rice cakes decorated with azalea petals. You can try those cakes at Yeongchwi Mountain. They are made by kneading glutinous rice flour with hot water, shaping the dough into balls, flattening them and putting the flower petals on top, and frying the cakes in a pan.
3. Wonmi Mountain in Bucheon
If you do not want to leave the metropolitan area, you can travel to Bucheon, which is right next to Seoul. Wonmi Mountain of Bucheon is 123 meters high, so it is rather just a hill. Thus it is easy even for children and the elderly to climb, making it a perfect place for a family picnic. It is also frequented by groups of friends and couples who want to stroll and chat while enjoying the scent of azaleas. Even though the azalea habitat on Wonmi Mountain does not have as long a history as those of Goryeo and Yeongchwi Mountains, it is gaining much popularity these days through word of mouth.
Moreover, very close to Wonmi Mountain is Dodang Mountain which features a tunnel created over two decades by 120 cherry trees. Thus, by traveling to Bucheon, you can enjoy two types of spring flowers at once.
Do Not Miss: Azalea Wine
Along with the widely used “jindallae,” another word for azalea in Korean is “dugyeon-hwa.” It comes from the name of a bird, cuckoo (dugyeon), who is believed to have cried blood-soaked tears on the flowers, turning them red. The same word is used in the name of an aromatic wine made by adding azalea to refined rice wine. Dugyeon-ju tastes and smells sweet because azaleas generally can produce more honey than other flowers.
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