Given that my visit to Sindap coincided with Seollal, coming out of the station’s one exit reminded me a bit of the scene in Westerns when the protagonist steps out of the saloon onto an empty street, the only things a’stirrin’ bein’ tumbleweeds an’ dust. And, OK, my imagination is getting away with me and I exaggerate, but it was awfully quiet. There was a normal-seeming flow of traffic – likely families on the way to and from relatives’ homes and gravesites – but the pedestrian traffic was thin to the point of almost not being there at all. There was one guy doing some stretching in Yongdap Neighborhood Park (용답 근린 공원), the small space just outside Exit 1. More of a plaza than a park, really, it did have a packed dirt basketball court, some exercise equipment, and a few benches.
Sindap sits on one corner of a large intersection where Cheonho-daero (천호대로) and Majang-ro (마장로)/Sagajeong-ro (사가정로) intersect, and a cold January wind was whipping across the open space, past the low, 3-4-story older brick commercial buildings in brown, carnation, and burnt sienna.
Behind the station is the Cheonggye Stream (청계천) and my aim was to get at it, but the tracks seemed to cut off access so I turned left out of the exit to see if I could find a way to it. I walked northwest several hundred meters, on the way making note of the bright cream, orange, yellow, and red Seoul Sindap Elementary School (서울신답초등학교), which had three large solar panels perched on the roof.
Finally, just after the rail overpass where Line 1 trains rumbled north towards Cheongnyangni, I noticed a set of wood stairs, and these led up to a path down to the stream. Here, near where the stream starts its southward turn towards the Han, the waterway has almost none of the engineered character that typifies its more popular western end. It’s much wider, maybe four times what it is in Jongno, and lined on either side with thick beds of reeds, brown and crisp in the winter, that in some stretches were as tall as I was, blocking completely my view of the stream. The only thing in the stream that indicated an artificial touch were the stepping stone bridges leading from one bank to another, though it appeared as if, temporarily at least, the freezing over of the stream in spots had rendered them superfluous. This wasn’t a theory I was ready to put to the test, however.
As I got back near the station I came to see that I had taken the long way round by turning left out of the station instead of right. If I had done that and then followed it by another right onto Majang-ro at the intersection I would have noticed the path leading down to the stream just behind the car park.
The rest of the neighborhood seemed rather unremarkable, though pleasant enough. East of the station an (on this day at least) extremely quiet neighborhood sat squeezed between Cheonho-daero and the tall metal walls shielding it from the train tracks running parallel to the Cheonggye.
The story was similar north of Cheonho-daero, though here at least there were some people grabbing some holiday exercise at the square block Gandeme Park (간데메공원). No one was using the badminton or basketball courts, but a few singles and couples were circumambulating the walking path or using the exercise equipment. The park seemed relatively new, with good playground equipment, and a couple features that would make it nicer in the warmer months: a rose arch, that for now was denuded, and an octagonal pavilion above a pond, which had been drained for the winter.
Lastly, if you head to the corner of the intersection diagonal from the station, you can pretty quickly reach the west end of Dapsimni Antiques Town, which sits just one block back from Cheonho-daero. Of course everything was shuttered up due to the Lunar New Year holiday, but you can get an idea of what the Antiques Town is all about by checking out the post from our visit to Dapsimni Station.
Yongdap Neighborhood Park (용답 근린 공원)
Cheonggye Stream (청계천)
Right out of exit, right on Majang-ro (마장로), Right on path after car park
Gandeme Park (간데메공원)
Northeast on Sagajeong-ro (사가정로), Left on Hwangmul-ro (황물로), Right on Dapsimni-ro-38-gil (답십리로38길)
Dapsimni Antiques Town
East on Cheonho-daero (천호대로), first or second Left