Sunday, November 2, 2008

The City of Filial Piety

Along the Wall
Hwaseong Fortress, near Hwaseomun, the West Gate

I went to Suwon yesterday. Suwon is the capital of Gyeonggi-do, the province I live in, and is home to Hwaseong Fortress and Hwaseong Haenggung, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites dating to the Joseon Dynasty. The trip there was a bit of an adventure. It was an hour on subway, which was easy, and then ten minutes by bus, which was not. The subways in Korea are very user friendly. All the signs at the stations are in English as well as Korean and most trains have a digital display announcing the name of the coming station. The buses, on the other hand, are all in Korean. I've yet to see a map of the bus system, or even a single bus route, and sometimes the bus driver won't let westerners off the bus. The only time I use to the bus is to get to school, and only because my co-teacher showed me which bus to use. Luckily there was a tourist information station near the subway station and they were able to point me in the direction of the right bus.

The palace was nice, if a bit too focused on a popular TV show that had been filmed there. The fortress, however, was very impressive. The wall, which was built in 1794, stretches 5.7km and at the time it was built, completely surrounded the city. It's huge and the views are impressive. There are four gates along the wall, but I only made it to the West Gate, one of the smaller gates. I always forget how early it gets dark here, but it's completely dark by six. (And by completely dark, I mean glowing with neon lights. Come on, this is Korea. It doesn't actually get dark here.) I'll have to go back another time and see the rest of the wall.

The rest of my photos from the trip are here.

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