|Visitors enjoy the eulalia trail at Mount Mindungsan of Jeongseon, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap News)|
On a clear October morning at Sangam-dong in Seoul, hundreds of people in trekking suits were climbing the “280 stairs” to Haneul Park created atop a huge garbage landfill.
Some of them were kindergarteners on a picnic, school students taking a day off in nature, apparent retirees enjoying full-tinted foliage and others. In front of the park, venders sold all kinds of foods from fish cakes to ice cream and beverages, attracting people to stop by. Some middle-aged men and women took seats and chatted instead of proceeding.
Hand-in-hand, the picnickers enjoyed the view.
“It’s so soft!” said a kindergartener as he touched a velvety eulalia, with gray and silvery leaves and a dark brown stem.
At this time of the year, eulalia ― a genus of about 30 species of mostly perennial grasses found in tropical Africa, Asia and Australia ― is in its peak through December. The plant, which can grow as tall as an adult male, has become a representative image of autumn alongside fall foliage and reeds.
The 12th Seoul Eulalia Festival is held in Haneul Park through Sunday. Last year, more than half a million people visited the festival.
During the festival, eulalia will be more beautiful under the moonlight.
“The park usually closes around 6:30 p.m. but during the festival period the hours are extended to 10 p.m. Visitors will be able to enjoy eulalia tinted in various colors under the lighting,” the organizers said.
The Seoul Art Festival Orchestra as well as several other musical bands will perform from 6 p.m. to complement the ambience.
Through the end of the month, the country is filled with eulalia-related events that attract people seeking serene, romantic and beautiful autumn scenery. Mt. Myeongseongsan
At the peak of Mt. Myeongseongsan in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province, 923 meters above sea level, is a 200,000-square-meter eulalia field. At this time of the year hikers can enjoy foliage colors at the foot of the mountain and the sceneries of Biseon and Deungyong falls, and then climb up to enjoy the silver waves of eulalia.‘Yeongnam Alps’
The so-called Yeongnam Alps are a cluster of seven mountains, with some standing more than 1,000 meters above sea level, in the Gyeongsang region ranging from Ulsan, to Yangsan, Miryang, Cheongdo and Gyeongju. The 255-square-kilometer area is covered with eulalia at this time of year and local tourism authorities have created a 29.7-kilometer-long “Haneul Eulalia Road” linking one peak to another.
The Yeongnam Alps Eulalia Festival is held through Sunday at Mt. Sinbulsan and Mt. Ganwolsan, where various events including a concert are scheduled over the weekend.
For those needing an alternative to the climb, a cable car goes 1.8 kilometers to the top of Eoleumgol Peak in 10 minutes. Jeju-do Island
The whole southern island of Jeju seems to be a huge eulalia field at this time of the year. Saebyeol Oreum near Jungmun is one of the most famous spots to enjoy the autumn scenery.
“Especially around sunset, the scarlet and orange colors fill the field and the eulalia makes a soft wave as the wind blows. It’s inexplicably beautiful,” said a recent traveler.
Local authorities have created a 600-meter “Eulalia Road” near Geomun Oreum. To protect the environment, only 400 people are admitted daily and reservations must be made in advance. For more information, call (064) 710-8981.
The Jeju Olle Walking Festival will be held near Ttarabi Oreum, another eulalia viewing spot, from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2.
By Bae Ji-sook (firstname.lastname@example.org)