3 things to see in Ganghwa-do: Peace Observatory, a stone and an upside-down house

Written by on October 19, 2013 in Travel

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That’s right, a house that’s upside down. The roof is touching the ground and the floor is facing the sky. Even the car parked on the porch is suitably hanging mid-air.

While I didn’t get a chance to see the interior, the upside-down house is still fascinating from the outside. According to an Exploring Korea interview, the architect said he designed the house to challenge the notion that objects should stand upright.

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Right next to the upside-down house is another intriguing sight: a cafe that leans in at a 50-degree angle.

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Inside, fortunately, most things are upright save for some slanted mirrors and washroom. Walking into the slanted washroom has got to be one of the most bizarre experience ever. The toilet seat and wash basins are at an angle, which makes it marginally challenging to go about activities that we’re used to every day. Not to mention, it was mildly headache inducing.

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I tried to take a picture, but it was impossible to compose a shot that could explain the strange experience.

Elsewhere inside is a typical themed cafe with their little corners, including one that is inspired by a washroom and another probably ideal for the lovebirds.

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Bizarre architecture aside, the next place worth visiting is the Peace Observation Deck.

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From here, you can take a glimpse at the living environment of North Koreans from the nearest point (2.8km) in South Korea. The Gaeseong Industrial Zone is only a mere 15km away from here.

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Much has been said about North Korea, but seeing real people walking on the fields across the Han River using the telescope still brings a wave of inexplicable feelings. Through the lens, one can easily see the stark difference in living conditions between the two Koreas. And can only imagine separated families who can only hope for reunion.

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At the Ganghwa Peace Observation Deck, you can learn about the war history of Ganghwa, write your wish for reunion on digitized trees and also purchase liquor, artwork and craftwork of North Korea.

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The third sight is a rock.

The Ganghwa Dolmen. The largest table-shaped dolmen was registered by UNESCO in December 2002. According to literature, the cap stone measures 6.4m long and 5.2m wide, and is supported by a pair of supporting stones. It is also said that there was another two stones, which have disappeared over time, that block the other two sides.

There are about 150 dolmens in Ganghwa, and 70 are registered as World Heritage monuments.

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Around the perimeter of the Ganghwa Dolmen, you can find other smaller stones, but these are man-made. The staff said that they had planted these artificial stones, so that visitors have more things to see. Can’t quite agree more.

Ganghwa is a short 1.5-2 hour drive from Seoul and makes an easy day trip. While I didn’t get to try the local dishes, I was told that Ganghwa Eopori Raw Fish Village and Jeondeungsa Temple are the two recommended places to dine.

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About the Author

Damian Koh

Singaporean living in Bundang, South Korea, permanently wired to social media and big data by day (and some nights). When not plugged in, he enjoys wakeboarding, snowboarding scuba diving and bumming at the beach. Loves chicken, beer and single malt whisky.