19-Mar-2010 -- This is my first confluence visit in South Korea. I have been studying the in-land confluence points (CP) in this country since I moved in here with my family but never had the time to explore any of them. Being an expat working in a globally known conglomerate is a good opportunity but longer day-offs are not humanely possible, coupled with my wife’s weekend commitments as a volunteer teacher.
Other reason, a technical one, is that my GPSr does not have an accurate English basemap that can navigate me with prompt ease to Korea’s vast networks of highways and infrastructures. But then during spare time, I was able to create personalized routable tracks for my handheld GPSr using Google Earth and some online augmented maps that could at least direct me to the CPs or at worst leave me lost in the streets. My engineering senses would tell me that anything ain’t tested won’t work, so I look for chances to try hit the road for joyride and test it.
I finally had the chance when my wife had to travel to the Philippines and accompany our eldest son back to Korea. I was entrusted to take care of our younger son, Mark Joseph “Jam”, for a week off from work. Jam is too young to help me navigate the road but certainly did his job well in making me stay alert on him while outdoor.
I surmised that CP N36º E127º is good to start with, considering its permissible travel distance approx 180kms from my home in Suwon City, for an outdoor activity that can make father and son busy the entire day. So off we go.
This CP is located about 10kms NE of Iksan City that is part of Jeollabuk-do, one of South Korea’s eight(8) provinces. Starting from the Suwon Interchange along Highway #42 near home, I drove due south along Gyeongbu Expressway #1 then took Honam Expressway #25 for the longer part of the trip. We got off to a smaller county road #722 leading us to the inner rural area of Jeollabuk province. From there, every next road we took would lead to even narrower paths until we came along this small paved street named “Galme-Gil” (written 갈메길 in korean) enough to allow SUV or any bigger vehicle type to only pass in single direction at one time. My GPSr indicated a remaining distance of about 200meters to the CP so I decided to park the car on a flat firm ground along the side of this street and walk (while young Jam running) towards the location.
The terrain around the CP is visibly agricultural. We did not have much problem accessing and locating the confluence except that we have to step on a partly muddy field as the only way to reach the right lot. The exact CP is located in the middle of an elevated agricultural lot littered with rows of stubble from the previous harvest.
The surrounding area seems to have changed since the last reported visit almost 10years ago. On an adjacent lot some 20meters southwest from the exact confluence is what appears to be an orchard of young apple trees with most of their twigs pruned down and leaves fallen dry as a result of being left open during winter time. Probably a good timing to visit this CP is during harvest time with apple picking as an added attraction. Looking east, some trees, shrubs and bushes partly obstruct view of some of the traditional houses and makeshifts probably owned by farmers cultivating the area.
Going a few meters to get a general northern vista, one would see the wide agricultural landscape of the locality, including the narrow rural access road from where we came from and the corner of Galme-Gil (“gil” means street) where I parked the car. Winter time is almost over and Jam enjoyed watching some farmers ride their tractors to till the land in preparation for the next planting season.
Reaching a CP, moreover as first time experience, brings feeling of satisfaction. Forget those murky, soiled shoes. Believe me.