May 26, 2013 by rkpcs
We said a very sad farewell to our Gwangyang hosts on the morning of Saturday 25th May, after they have made us feel so welcome during the last four days. We were bound for Suncheon and arrived at 10am to meet some of the new team of hosts who will now see us through to the end of the exchange.
We spent our day being shown around the Suncheon garden expo which is huge tourist draw for the area. The garden expo is being held in Suncheon between 20 April 2013 and 20 October 2013, and covers an area of 1,500,000 square metres. The intention is to showcase an exemplary model for an ideal future city by focusing on green industry development such as solar energy, sustainable garden development and electronic transportation.
The site is devoted to the exhibition of different styles of landscapes and gardens, and was created in an effort to ensure the permanent preservation of Suncheon bay (a coastal wetland which can be found about 5km away). The expo includes large indoor and outdoor exhibitions as well as different outdoor gardens created in accordance with those traditionally found in ten different countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, England, Japan and Thailand. There are also many different traditional Korean gardens and indoor exhibits to be explored.
As well as the gardens, there were a number of other features which the team particularly enjoyed. One of particular interest was the “dream bridge” which links the eastern side of the expo site with the western side. The inside of the bridge is covered with small ceramic tiles on which thousands of school children have drawn their dream. It was a lovely place to walk through and many people were dawdling slowly through the length of the bridge, stopping to appreciate the individual creativity that had been captured on many of the tiles on display.
The team were impressed to learn about the development of the expo, which had taken 2 years to plan and includes work by many people of different nationalities. Each of the individual countries gardens were designed by professional landscape designers from that country, and they sat side by side with one another, creating an enjoyable harmonious atmosphere for visitors who walked between the gardens exploring their different styles and features. The central feature of the expo, a large interactive exhibit which represents a mountain which sits beside Suncheon city, was designed by English designer Charles Jencks, having been approached by the Korean organisers of the expo who had been impressed by his previous work. There were also gardens designed by a Korean designer who had discovered inspiration for the design by way of a trip to the Chelsea flower show. There is a feeling of international harmony when walking throughout the site, with the different styles sitting side by side to be enjoyed in terms of their differences and the cultural and geographical reasons which exist for different aspects of the gardens.
The expo is an impressive way of introducing mass tourism on a large scale, both from national and international sources. Each weekend, 150,000 tourists visit the expo site, generating massive income for the area. The tourists are largely Korean, but it also creates a major draw for international tourists.
After a very enjoyable day exploring the expo, we had a lovely dinner with our hosts before returning to our home for the next two nights which is a traditional Korean house within a hotel complex situated on the outskirts of the garden expo.
Sunday 26th May is our first rest day since arriving in South Korea and we are planning to explore the local city of Suncheon independently. We will therefore be back on Monday evening (wifi permitting) with another update.