Thursday, 17 October 2013

Hwanseon Cave

During our recent weekend in Samcheok, on Korea's east coast, Angela and I visited Hwanseon Cave, one of the largest limestone caves in Asia, and the largest in Korea. The cave is situated in a remote region of karst mountains and forests, and is filled with vast tunnels, chasms, flowstones, rimstones, rivers and waterfalls. It was by far the most impressive cave I've ever visited, and hopefully these photos will do at least some justice to its majesty.

The bus ride from Samcheok winded through valleys shrouded in pea-green fog.
At the ticket office. 
From the ticket office it's a half-hour hike to the actual cave entrance. Not so fun in the rain, but at least we were rewarded with some breathtaking views of the surrounding limestone mountains.

A little further on we took a tram up a steeper part of the valley. You can actually climb on foot if you prefer, but it was rainy and we were feeling lazy.

The gaping mouth of Hwanseon Cave.
Inside, the cave is lined with steel walkways that make you feel like you're visiting the underground lair of a James Bond villain. The excellent lighting really helps accentuate the scale and vastness of the tunnels.

We'll see in the following photo how effective this sign has been...

This heart-shaped hole is called the "Pledge of Love."
This was "The Bridge of Hell."

Couldn't resist shaking the bridge a little to scare Angela as we crossed.
This area brought me back to Goblin Town in the recent Hobbit movie.

Bond-villain-lair vibe was definitely at its strongest here. Feel like I passed through this place playing Goldeneye on the N64 as a teenager.
This is the early formation of rimstone, a buildup of calcite and other minerals that make a stair-like shape.

Heading back towards the exit.

Back in the misty mountains.

Hwanseon Cave is definitely a place worth checking out if you're ever in the Samcheok area. There are regular buses there from Samcheok Intercity Bus Terminal that take about 45 minutes.

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