Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stropping Around Korea - Namhansanseong

Namhan Mountain Fortress is about 24 km southeast of Seoul and mostly consists of a wall running for just over 8km around Namhan Mountain. The wall has four gates and within its bounds are several temples and a brace of restaurants.

After the pleasures of travelling derived from last weekend i planned another outing, this time to Namhansan. What i didn't plan on however was the overnight snow that made walking both dangerous and a tad frigid. I ended up on my arse several times.

To be honest I hadn't intended on walking so much. I thought I would head in the general direction of something interesting, get a few snaps and get back to someplace warm but the mood took me and i found myself looking down over a city far below, shivering uncontrollably and quietly proud of myself for taking that extra step.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Stropping Around Korea - Jipyeong / Gudun

After a busy Saturday i decided to head out of the city for a breath of fresh air. I'd read an interesting review of recent trip taken by another blogger so decided to follow in his wake and check out Jipyeong and Gudun, tiny blips on the Korean landscape.

There are three trains running each day in the direction i wanted to go and because of prior commitments i was just in time to catch the final run of the day, the 7pm. Having little idea of what to expect in the way of places to stay i was feeling a little nervous. I formulated a plan while we were getting outside the boundaries of the city; once i got close to my first destination i would start looking for the bright lights of a Motel and jump off.

It sounded good but not knowing how close i was until i actually got there proved to be a slight hic-cup. We passed a place that had welcoming bright lights close to the station but i decided to stay on and see how many more stations it would be until mine. It turned out to be two. Now i would have to wait until the next chance came. Five stations later i made my break in a place called Wonju. A tall building in the distance promised the comforts of sleep.

In the morning, feeling well rested and a lot more relaxed i got back on the train and headed back the way i came. My first target was a place called Jipyeong, in which the largest building turned out to be the train station. The town itself was small but not so small that it made it any easier to find the brewery i had come to see. After repeatedly having to stop and ask i walked up to a fairly run-down old building with little in the way of proclamations of it's long and respected history.

Makgeolli is or rather was an integral part of the Korean daily life. An alcoholic drink made from rice, it's popularity has come and gone. But for me, who is more used to the delights of cheap vodka, it has become a pleasant if not welcomed way to spend an evening. So because of my fondness, it seemed only right i should delve a little into it's history, meaning checking out an 80 year old brewery and buying a few bottles to take home.

From there i boarded the train once more and headed to Gudun, a 70 or there abouts old train station built during Japanese rule. It's point of being will soon be taken away when the train line is straightened out and the station by-passed. what better time to pay a visit when it's still in use.