Sunday, June 12, 2011

5/20/11: Buyeo and Jeonju

Today was the first day of our 7-day tour of the mainland with HanaTour. We’ll be making a circuit of the country mostly along (or close to) the coast, starting from Seoul and going counterclockwise. To start off, we headed south to Buyeo, where we visited Busosan Fortress (부소산성) and Nakhwaam Cliff (낙화암). Busosan Fortress is thought to have been constructed in 538 CE to protect Sabi, the capital of the Baekje Kingdom. There isn’t much left of the original fortress, but we did climb up to Baekhwajeong Pavilion (백화정) at the top of Nakhwaam Cliff. Nakhwaam itself is most famous as the “rock of falling flowers,” so named because the women of Baekje jumped to their deaths when the kingdom was defeated by the Shilla-Tang Alliance. Hiking down from the cliff, you can also visit the small Goran Temple (고란사), named after a local medicinal herb. Legend has it that consuming a cup of water from the spring behind the temple will make you three years younger, but of course it really isn’t different from any other drinking water.

After Buyeo, we continued on to Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, where we visited the Jeondong Cathedral, dedicated to Korea’s first martyrs (from the 18th century). The cathedral itself dates back to 1913 and is the largest Western-style building in the Jeollabuk-do and Jeollanam-do provinces. Designed by a Norman priest, it features a beautiful combination of Byzantine and Romanesque architecture and is definitely worth a visit. We also had a brief tour of the Hanok Village (한옥마을) in Jeonju, which features more than 800 traditional Korean hanok houses. The roofs in this village are unique, being slightly curved up towards the sky. Other features common to all hanok houses are the traditional sub-floor heating system, ondol, and the division of the houses into sarangchae (where the men live) and anchae (the secluded part where the women live).

While in Jeonju, we also learned how to make a traditional Korean “fragrance pocket” – basically a form of potpourri. We filled pouches with dried plant materials such as cinnamon bark, cedar wood, and cloves (there were many others, but I can’t remember all the names, as they were in Korean). The pouches smelled quite nice (almost like curry, which is odd since no curry was involved), but I ended up leaving them behind when I packed tonight, since I don’t want all of my luggage to smell like an herb shop ;)

1 comment:

  1. Elena!!!!!!!!!!...!!!! :D

    This is Lydia!!! I found this through your gmail! I had forgotten you were in Korea and called you several times, to no avail :P but this is good too!! I'm so glad to see you're doing magnificently, learning so much Korean and experiencing Korean culture itself!! It must be wonderful feeling the groove of your CRAZY KOREAN BLOOD. and I'm also so glad to have a method of communicating with you in Korea!

    I miss you very much and I can't wait to see you. Please CALL ME as soon as you are back!!! Until then, I will definitely be following your blog and keeping in touch!