The morning to Boseong Nokcha Pat (green tea plantation) started with a measly breakfast of toast and butter at Pedro’s House, my hostel in Gwangju. Beatrice, my travel partner for the day, came out almost half-naked from the shared bathroom with a toothbrush in her mouth. “Morning,” we mumbled to each other, still recovering from the hangover we were nursing from the drinking session the night before. All Pedro’s fault. I didn’t know how the both of us managed to wake up at 8am just to visit a green tea plantation.
Somehow we managed to haul our sorry, half-awakened arses to the bus terminal for a 90 minute ride to Boseong. The bus took us through the beautiful valleys of Jeollado with craggy cliffs giving way to vast expanses of green fields with meadering streams and rivers, littered with boulders of varying sizes, and tree-covered roads. Why aren’t there more people coming to see this? Marketing people! Marketing!
We ended up in a dingy bus terminal, dingier than any dingy bus terminal I’ve ever come across in Korea. The toilet was, well, a throwback to the days when people squat while doing their business and the dusty old provision store, with its owner sleeping on top of her wares, attracted just about next to no customers (save for a few flies buzzing around). The star attractions of the terminal were a faded map of Boseong where Beatrice and I spent a total of two minutes staring at and a cute little puppy yelping away. That’s Boseong bus terminal for you.
As the rules of solo travelling has it, you will meet wonderful people in the most unlikely places such as Boseong. We met Patricia, an American Korean, who by default became our translator, and Iskandar, a Malaysian scholar studying in Seoul University, who possessed better Korean skills than Patricia and by default became our main translator. Then we met a petite and gentle Korean lady whose name we will never know. She was born in Boseong and it was her first time visiting the green tea plantation. She was surprised and amazed at how the four of us managed to converge from all corners of the world just to visit her hometown’s best attraction. She, by default, became our tour leader.
After buying our bus tickets to the plantation (with the kind help of the Korean lady whose name we will never know), we were on our way with the comforting knowledge that the company for the trip was decent.
We had to walk up a gentle slope surrounded by trees to the main entrance of the plantation. Iskandar, with his superb Korean skills, bought the entrance tickets for us. Looking up at the rows and rows of well-tended green tea bushes and towering cedar trees covering the entire hill, I then realised why Boseong Nokcha Pat is listed as one of the must-go places in South Korea.
We started up the stairs and stopped from time to time to take pictures of the plantation. Spot signs that state ‘photozone’ for the best shots and angles. It took us about an hour or so to climb up the hill and down. Beatrice disappeared half-way through but she soon re-emerged when we finished our short hike with the mandatory green tea ice cream, green tea cold noodles, green tea bibimbap and virtually green tea everything. Bought some really expensive Ujeon tea or the first-picked tea leaves of spring. It was about 1USD per gram of tea leaves.
Then I spotted an arrow near the exit with some Korean words on the sign and Iskandar translated it for us. It was a bamboo forest but we didn’t see any bamboo in sight. Instead, we spotted a looonnngggg flight of stairs and started staring at one another with questioning eyes. I could almost hear everyone’s inner dread until Patricia quipped, “Let’s go!” The bamboo forest was way better than Damyang’s due to the lack of humans. We were about the only ones in the forest and ended taking silly pictures of one another. Korean lady was very much amused with our antics and told Patricia to tell us that because of us, she hadn’t had so much fun in such a long time.
On our way to the busstop, Beatrice spotted a heart-shaped flower hedge and wanted to run across the road to get into the heart to have a picture taken. Mind you, the ‘road’ wasn’t simply just a road. It was a 4-lane highway. But there’s no stopping this American girl from having her picture taken in a heart-shaped bush. The sane Asians stood safely at the side and took her photos. Korean lady was shocked beyond words.
We ended up back at the dingy bus terminal and exchanged contacts while waiting for the bus back to Gwangju. I bought gum and cider from the provision store owner (she woke up!). And that concluded my trip to Boseong Nokcha Pat.
If possible, try to combine your trip to Boseong with Suncheon but spread it over a few days.
- Directions: From Boseong Terminal, take a local bus bound for Yulpo and get off at Daehan Dawon Bus Stop (approximately 25 minutes)
- Admission Fees: 4000won (adults)/ 3000won (kids)
- If you are interested, there’s a green tea spa at Yulpo seaside. Just take the local bus from the same busstop that you dropped off for the plantation.