Tag Archive: park


Gyeongju

I went to Gyeongju over the past weekend, which is well known for being a historic city. It has more UNESCO sites than the rest of Korea combined. Most of them are burial mounds. Some were excavated by Sweden, but I’m not sure why. If there are two close to one another they are King and Queen.

You’re allowed to go inside one of them as well, however you have to pay for that. It’s 1,500 for adult entry, but also allows you into a beautiful park as well. It’s difficult to get pictures inside the mound, as it is dark and everything that was inside is behind glass. You’re also not allowed to take pictures, which I saw on the way out, but there was no one there to stop me anyway.

After this we went to Cheomseongdae which was built between 632-647 and is the oldest astronomical observatory in East Asia. It was filled with dirt up to the 12th layer of exterior stones (which are quite large) and people could observe from there up to the 15th layer.

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There is a bug bus that goes around this area as well, which is super cute! This park includes a few mounds, places to keep ice, the tower above, rapeseed fields, old buildings, and at the time, a concert area.

Gyeongju 052From there we went to Anapji Pond, which is very beautiful, manicured, and mostly reconstructed.

Gyeongju 076 Gyeongju 096Nearby is the National Museum, which I didn’t find too interesting. Most is reconstructions of things you will see around the town. Also, the main part is closed right now. Good thing it’s free.

Stayed at Potato Motel which gave us a 10,000 discount from 70,000 to 60,000 when I made a face. Dinner at Han’s Deli was pretty good, but mine was too spicy. If we weren’t too tired, we probably would have sat there for longer so I could eat, but I was going to fall asleep from walking around in 90% humidity and 30C weather.

The next day we went to Bulguksa Temple which is accessible via the 10 or 11 bus which cost 1,500 won each (fitting, as the bus ride takes about half an hour). Be sure to get off at the stop next to the parking lot, not another with a similar name that is surrounded by shops. From the bus stop, go up the right walkway as it goes though a park where people are selling food, drinks and standard Korean souvenirs (the left is for cars but has a sidewalk as well).

At the top you have to pay an entrance fee of 4,000.

Once inside you walk quite a bit more. All of the stonework is original, as that was not effected when Japan burned them down (of course it wasn’t effected, and of course Japan burned it down–like everything in Korea at some point…). However, this was burned down far before the 1911 invasion.

There is still reconstruction going on. Behind the main temple and the largest stairs photoed below you can see a building which ruins the photo. We had to go around and up to see that that is where the reconstruction is going on, and the building is to protect the pieces. Current reconstruction is of a pagoda which had a crack on the 3rd level.

Gyeongju 150We had just missed the bus to go to Seokguram (they leave every hour on the hour) and it was too hot to walk the 30-50 minutes so we headed back.

Buses to Busan leave every hour on the hour, except around 6:00 when they leave at 6:00, 6:40, and then 7:40, 8:40….etc.

Buses there from Busan leave every 30 minutes.

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Second time going to this park, thought I’d end up at the same entrance as before, but nope! Not sure how the bus schedule works out here, but we took the same bus and ended up at at the Naejangsan National Park Office and not the Naejangsan National Park Southern Office.

We left Sunday morning on the first bus (8:15) from Gwangju, getting in around 9:15. From the town we walked to the Park Office and paid 3,000 to go in. From there, to the Information Center, past Woohwaejeong Lake, the Cable Car and then the Wooden gate, or Iljmun. From there we went to the Temple of Naejangsa, and up to Wonjeokam and up further to Bulchulbong which is 622 meters. Next was up to Manghaebong (679 meters), down to Yeonjibong (670 meters), up to Kkachibong (717 meters) and then down though Geumseong Valley back to Naejangsa. See below for the map, we followed the purple line.

Hiking Course 2The buses leave from near the National Park Office (10 minutes away) at 9:40, 12:00, and 4:15.

From the Park to the Naejangsa you will be walking under trees like below and past Woohwajeong Lake which has a pagoda.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 190 Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 197

The Wooden Gate, or Iljumun, is below and is 10 minutes before Naejangsa temple.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 209Naejangsa Temple has a 3 story pagoda and many lanternsSome food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 228 Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 231 Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 234The next temple, Wonjeokam, was up quite high and had a view, half golden painted Buddha, and a dog!

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 243 Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 247From there, it took 30 minutes to go .8 kilometers, which should give you a hint as to how difficult it was! Basically stairs the whole way.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 252 Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 254 Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 257 The next peaks were 678 meters and 670 meters. Finally, the highest was 717.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 280 Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 281The way back was mostly following a river.

I went to Gwangju in the Fall and we didn’t get to see the Peace Park or Cemetery because one of the people I went with had already been there. We ended up wandering around more than anything else and getting a bit lost.

Gwangju is famous for student uprisings against the dictator during 1980-81.

After arriving we went to Shinsagae to grab lunch again and started walking towards the Memorial Park, also called Peace Park. which is starred below on GoogleMaps. I hope you can tell which one is the park. It’s the opposite direction of Shinsagae. The A is just what shows up when you type in Gwangju.

Bus station to Memorial Park

The park was pretty small, although it looks pretty big on the map. We unknowingly walked though all of it looking for a spot to have lunch. When you walk in from the North entrance, you see the statue below.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 023Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 028Behind the statue, there is an entrance to more of the memorial, the area where they have the names of the dead written on the walls.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 034After that we took a taxi back to the bus station where we got an hour long bus to the cemetery. It is bus 518 to make things easier. I found out later that you can take it from the Peace Park as well. They come about every half an hour.

From the bus stop you walk though the parking gate, past the parking lot to the entrance.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 055 Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 084To the right there is the Yuyeongbonganso which is the place to put the portraits of the deceased May 18 democratic persons of merits. This is not just people who died during the massacre, but also people who were there and recently died.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 105To the right is a museum. This included a detailed history, watched that had stopped when a person got shot or blown up, flags covered in blood, paintings people had done, a building the way things used to be, a machine gun, knife, a billy club, rocks covered in blood, dioramas, and a never ending stream.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 131Note the Star Wars poster.

One of the more interesting things I saw: The Joint Investigation Headquarters fabricated the truth about the May 18 Democratic Uprising by forcing false confessions through torture of the detainees. The people who fought for democracy and justice against the Gwangju massacre by the new military government were now arrested and sentenced to death or lifetime imprisonment by the military court for the crime of high treason and sedition. The injured who were being treated in hospital were forced to leave.

Another interesting thing:

The Gwangju Massacre, the outcome of weapons of betrayal following the order for treason!

A 30-year-old deaf and dumb man was clubbed to death,

a 19-year-old girl was stabbed int he chest and short in the stomach,

a 60-year-old man trying to stop the killing of the innocent was beaten to death,

13-shots were fixed at a woman on her way to her grandfather’s ancestral rite,

an 8-month pregnant woman was shot to death as she waited for her husband in an alleyway,

a 4th grader was shot to death as he looked for a shoe he had lost when running away from the madness,

a middle school student was shot to death while swimming in a reservoir,

an old lady hiding under a manhole and a 70-year old man holding his breath in his house were shot to death,

and a 5-year old child was killed and buried in Gwangju, in May 1980!

People just called this the “Gwangju incident” for more than then years,

And those in power called it the suppression of a riot for social stability.

They called Gwangju a city of Communists,

though all people asked for was the truth about the brutally murdered bodies.

However, Gwangju could not be silenced though death as they wanted.

The next information plaque said the following and more:

The person who was the 11th and 12th President was given a life sentence and the Minister of Home Affairs and the 13th President was given a 17 year prison sentence.

Further left, is the door of history, historical square, outdoor performing place, sungmoru (the castle-type building that old casatles monito red the surroundings), and the second cemetery. Below is the sungmoru.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 162The way to the cemetery and back you will go past some graffiti.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 177

This past weekend I went to Seoraksan National Park via Sokcho with the Busan Daytrippers–from the name you can tell it’s not normally a weekend thing.

There didn’t seem to be much in Sokcho, but it is a port village so I’m sure the seafood is great. We saw a boat come in with the morning catch.

Sokcho and Seoraksan National Park 001

You can take a taxi to the park entrance for less than 15,000 won, or take a bus for 1,000 but the buses didn’t come on schedule so we decided to take the taxi and got a mini tour while doing it as the driver pointed out various mountain names and such. Entrance is 3,500 won. The park is beautiful.

Here’s a map of the hike we did (but starting from the National Park Office):

Hike Route

The first part (before the big turn) is called Dinosaur Ridge, then we stayed at Suryeomdong Shelter and went to the highest peak there, Daecheongbong, for sunrise at 5am. This is also the 3rd highest peak in South Korea.

Around the information shelter there is a giant Buddha.

Sokcho and Seoraksan National Park 021

Before hitting Dinosaur Ridge there is a river just begging to be jumped in.

Sokcho and Seoraksan National Park 083There were a couple temples along the way (labeled in English as caves as they have to be inside one), but after going up you have to go back the same way, so just keep that in mind. There was a lady working in there and we all wondered how she was sitting there not at all sweaty–but she must have gotten there ages before us and has time to cool off as it was almost cold inside.

Sokcho and Seoraksan National Park 112Here’s a good view of Dinosaur Ridge and shows you how it got it’s name. There were so many different types of trees along this part of the trail (and the park as a whole) I was amazed.

Sokcho and Seoraksan National Park 136We also saw a double rainbow! And the top one was a circle around the sun! I’m still confused by this because there hadn’t been rain for days!

Sokcho and Seoraksan National Park 150

From the temple (not marked on my map) to the shelter it is mostly downhill. We started the hike around 9am and ended up at the shelter around 6pm and went for a little swim in the river there to try and clean off the sweat.

From the shelter to the peak it is mostly uphill–as you can tell from the fact that one of the signs says part of the route is 1.1 kilometers but will take 1 hour to go up. We left the shelter at midnight and got to the peak for sunrise at 5am. Look at those clouds rolling in over the ocean!

Sokcho and Seoraksan National Park 195From there it was mostly downhill and covered by a forest.

Near the place we ended there are hot springs, but we decided to head on back instead of going in them, as most were headed to Seoul and wanted to go to the jimjjilbang (spa) there. From this exit you can take buses in may directions: Seoul, Sokcho, Hwacheon…To get to the bus stop and the ticket place you going straight out the exit and walk about 10 minutes to a shack to buy the tickets and across the street is the bus stop for Hwacheon and Seoul and on the same side is Sokcho. The ticket lady helped me flag the bus down, because you need to wave at it to make it stop.

Buddhas Birthday in Nampo

The weekend before Buddhas Birthday there was a celebration in Nampodong (or Seo-gu as a whole). I was told lots of mixed things and I’m still not sure what is true. First told parade from 7-8  from the BTCFC soccer stadium to Busan Tower, then 4-8 at the same address, then 8-9 from Busan Tower to Lotte and back. I wasn’t there that late because I had a going away part to go to, but it definitely wasn’t from 4-8 going from the BTCFC soccer stadium to Busan Tower because that would have gone past my apartment and I was there from 3-6.

Anyway, I just went to Nampodong and saw some decoration that had been up for a bit, including a massive dragon.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 060

Next I went up to Yongdusan Park which is where Busan Tower is. There were massive lanterns, similar to those I saw in Jinju. There were, of course, more in Jinju, as the city is famous for their festival.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 069 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 077 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 122 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 131 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 133

Also, BREAKDANCING! I’m told Koreans are the best.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 107 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 111 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 143

This last weekend there was a hike scheduled to start in Children’s Park and go further to the mountains to the West.

I was a bit hungover due to no food the night before and no food in the morning (not smart, but I didn’t think about it and was in a rush both times).

Children’s Park is beautiful and I can’t wait to go back. It starts with a a strange square statue and then goes into a pond with massive fish and swans followed by ramps to make it easier to go up.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 003 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 017At the top there was a temple. It’s all decked out for Buddhas Birthday on the 17th.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 026 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 032 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 043From the top (at least the top I got to) this was the view. I thought it was pretty great anyway.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 048 On the way up to this point, every step up made me want to throw up, and it was only getting worse. I decided to walk down on my own and find a way out. Adventure Time!

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 050 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 052 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 056

Shanghai in 8 hours

On my way to India, I had a layover from 12:55pm to 8:30pm–taking the time to get out of the airport and to where my friend wanted to meet plus the time to get back to the airport and the 2 hours to check in….it was really from 2:50pm to 6:30pm, and 3 hours and 40 minutes in Shanghai.

You CAN leave the airport in Shanghai if you are from certain countries if you have a layover that is less than 48/72 hours–if it’s longer I’d imagine you went there on purpose…really after 12 I think you’re there on purpose but on my way back it was 22 hours to make the flights super cheap. You can’t be coming from Hong Kong, stay in Shanghai for 48 hours and then go back to Hong Kong, have to go somewhere else so its really a layover and not a short trip. I don’t understand why the government doesn’t promote this more, since it really is just a great way for the country to make some tourism money. I’m not sure why else it exists.

Anyway, after you leave the airport, you can get on the metro easily and go anywhere! Both airports are on the green line and I went to Jing’an Temple to meet my friend (another English teacher) as she lives near there.  This took about an hour. At the airport stop (at least at mine, Pudong International) there are some weird decorations to let you know you’re in China. They were all in bad lighting, so my flash always popped up.

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Once getting off I could see that China was still all decked out for the Lunar New Year

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We went to lunch at Din Tai Fung which is famous from dumplings so we got the Mushroom ones and the Vegetable ones. My friend is a meat eater and said she liked the Mushroom ones because they were more ‘meat like’. We also got the most popular side dish which was sauteed greens in garlic. So good. There is a reason it’s the most popular. Service was a bit odd as we got everything separate, but it was busy. They have soy sauce and vinegar on the table for you to mix, and deliver very pretty ginger for you to use in your mix as well. You can watch the dumplings being made, but I’m not sure how anyone would know which are theirs.

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After that we walked though new Shanghai which is filled with sky scrapers. There was also a knock off market. I was quite surprised at how people just yelled what they were selling at you. We didn’t buy anything, but we went back on my return layover.

Shanghai 1 018 Shanghai 1 022

We ended up at Peoples Square where parents advertise their unmarried ‘old’ children for wed. I put old in quotes because by American/Western standards they are not old, only about 25. The signs will list their age, height, likes and dislikes and other parents will make notes of things to show their children. I don’t think I saw any of the kids actually there. There is a separate area for people who are willing to accept non-Chinese nationalities.

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There is also an amusement park with some really unsafe looking rides…

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And of course Cherry Blossoms!

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Next we decided to walk to the waterfront to see the skyline. While we were walking it started to rain, but hardly enough to need an umbrella, but of course everyone pulled them out. I have a horrible fear of getting hit in the ey by an umbrella.

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When we got to the waterfront I remembered being there when I was 16 and we did a boat cruise. I was hoping my mom could go though those old pictures (not on my computer) and find one of me in Shanghai but she couldn’t. I guess I didn’t take many pictures of myself on the trip and relied on others, but if we had shared them, they would have sent them and we would have saved them, right?

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Realistically, the photos below was the only reminder that I was in fact, in China which is a ‘communist’ country.

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Next was the subway back to the airport, where my friend told me that I had, realistically, seen all of new Shanghai in one day–less than that!

Meiji Shrine (Foundation Day Parade)

This was probably the worst day to go see the shrine, as there was so many people it was hard to see the buildings. However, the parade was amazing, making it the best day to go to the shrine.

Tokyo 1 762

Foundation Day is the day that Japan was unified under one Emperor. The Americans I found thought that there was 23 floats to represent the 23 different groups that became unified at that time (I did not see the whole thing so I’m not sure how many floats there were.

People cared them for about 2 miles! There probably 60 people holding each one up and they looked like they were struggling.

Many people hardly had any clothes on at all! It was pretty cold too. Some just wore socks.

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Once inside the shrine itself they carried the floats to a man standing higher than everyone else, cheered, and walked backwards away.

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There were also some amazing drummers.

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In the center of Tokyo is the Imperial Palace and the Gardens which is nice even in winter. Wish I could go back in summer to see all the flowers but I don’t think that will happen because of the cost of flights (usually). There were some swans in the pond outside the garden itself.

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There were some interesting plants there, including some things that I did not think could survive in the cold weather that is Japan in winter, like palm trees.

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Some plants were in bloom and were beautiful up close.

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There were also some trees growing from the tops of rocks, which confused me as there was no way to go up and see if the rock was hallow and had dirt inside.

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There is a look out to Mt Fuji but you can’t go and look from it as the building is very old.

After going to Sensoji Temple I walked down the river to Edo-Tokyo museum.

I walked into Kyu-Yasuda Garden on the way, which was beautiful. And super warm. I image it to be like Eagleton in Parks and Recreation where it’s on a hot spring and Pawnee is not.

Tokyo 1 319I also walked past the Ryogoku Kokugikan which is where they have Sumo Wrestling and there was an event on so I could not go into the free museum.

Tokyo 1 332The museum opens at 9:30 and I got there just before that. You also start on the 6th floor and go down from there, which I thought was odd but the other museum I went to did the same thing.

I thought the museum was really interesting as I did not know much about Japan or Tokyo before World War 2 other than Tokyo used to have a different name and there was an emperor and samurai and ninjas. No samurai or ninja stuff in the museum. Edo seemed welcoming and respectful: the main thing I remember reading said that although people did belong to 4 different groups they were able to talk and share information about their role so others could learn about it if they wanted to. Thus, some samurai knew how to farm, some farmers knew about being a merchant and some merchants knew about craft work.

Once you’re on the 6th floor, you cross a bridge which seems like it was built in a traditional way. There is a Theater and a Western style building below you as you cross. They built a model of the bridge in another room on the 5th floor too.

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On the other side is a bunch of models of what the city used to look like, and they have really intense details. There are some other things there as well, like clothes and swords.

Tokyo 1 362 Tokyo 1 375 Tokyo 1 376Next I went down to the 5th floor where most of the stuff is. I really liked the paintings.

Tokyo 1 394 Tokyo 1 402 Tokyo 1 434 Tokyo 1 448Block cutting and printing became very popular during the Edo period, and was also how some people wrote subversive things about the government.

Tokyo 1 406They also had a theater set up that tells a ghost story every 15 minutes. I missed it and didn’t realize that they characters moved. It shows stage tricks.

Tokyo 1 460There was a mini room that shows a special exhibit, which, at the time, was about a man who traveled and did paintings of different areas of Japan along the train route.

Tokyo 1 466Next was the Tokyo room.

In the last month of 1867 an order was promulgated designating the restoration of imperial rule. this order thereby decreed a new government. In the month of the following year, battles took place at Toba and Fushimr, then anti-bakufu forces advanced to Edo, where they met no resistance. Some members of the pro-bakufu forces formed a unit named the shogitai and ensconced themselves at the kan-eiji, a temple at ueno. But this group was easily subdued. Its defeat spelled the end of ever two-hundred years of tokugawa rule, Edo, which had once been the home of well over a million inhabitants thereby also declined in vigor. The new government aimed to establish a unified state with centralized rule. Old practices were discarded: the new area was named Meiji, and Edo was renamed Tokyo. For a short time Tokyo was a kind of deserted wasteland but with the establishment of a street of government offices adjacent to the palace, the city, with its center around the nihonbashi area returned to normal. now it had become the capital of japan in name and deed.

There were very detailed models here as well.

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There was a poster for the 14th meeting of the suiheisha, which was really intense looking.

Tokyo 1 492Next was a part about the air raids with a model of what normal houses looked like that the time–taped windows and all.

Tokyo 1 503My favorite sign was this though:

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