12 september Andong (SOUTH KOREA)

Leaving the sparkling Seoul, after a three hour bus journey, we reach the old city of Andong.

We are hosted by an American couple: Garrett and Stephanie who teach English here.

From Andong we get to Hahoe, a XVII century village, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

 

This tiny village is famous for its masks. According to legend, as a result of a plague that decimated almost the entire village, a God descended on Earth, and chose one of the village residents. He said that he would have saved that village if the chosen man had made masks but on one condition: no one should have seen him at work.

Against his will, the man accepted.

Time passes and the man makes masks, hiding all the time he is making them, but his wife begins to get suspicious and jealous until one day she went to the outskirts of the village to spy on him… one glance and he instantly died...  

In shock his wife commits suicide by stabbing herself through the heart with a knife. 

We see traditional dances which tell about this legend, before getting lost in the alleys of this timeless village which is shrouded in legend. 

 

We end the evening with a small bowl of noodles each, sat on the steps of the 7eleven in front of our house in Andong.

13 september Gyeongju (SOUTH KOREA)

[Stefy]: "Our Lonely Planet defines Gyeongju as an open-air museum.

We spend the whole day wandering aimlessly through the back streets to finish at the Jungang Market. We eat on our knees around a small table, in the Korean way. We taste Tangsuyuk (fried pork in various sauces) and Bokkeumbab (fried rice)

We are curious, we want to taste and try as much as we can...

The Royal Tombs “Cheon Machong” turn out to be a very romantic place in a park with very relaxing background music. A place to spend a few hours in peace... "

14 september Gyeongju (SOUTH KOREA)

[Stefy]: "At last today we got up without hurry!

We cross a large park full of colorful flowers to arrive at the "Gyeongju National Museum," the most interesting museum of the history of South Korea. Huge rooms full of archaeological materials dating back to 600 AD, vases, necklaces, crowns, masks... even a Buddhist bell "Emille Bell," one of the largest ever built in Asia.

From there we take a bus number 11 and in 20 minutes we arrive at the "Bulguksa Temple."

At the entrance four huge wooden statues of  Korean Gods look at us sternly. There are two beautiful pagodas "Dabotap" and "Seokgatap"; the whole atmosphere is so relaxing and we enjoy it all!"

15 september Busan (SOUTH KOREA)

Monday morning and the town of Gyeongju struggles to recover from the weekend.

The ladies have wrinkled faces, with short and black hair, crouched outside the doors of their houses which have the Oriental roofs that I adore so much!

They dig with wrinkled hands in bowls filled with small beans or relaxing on old sacks of chillies ready to be dried...

Two hours by train along the coast, and we arrive in Busan, the second largest city in South Korea.

We buy a "Metro day pass" and decide to go  to the Temple of Beomeosa, a sacred place for Buddhists, that from the top of a mountain, overlooks the entire city.

Stefy notes that people seem not to come here to pray but to meditate.

The silence, the peace and quiet was almost unreal!

It instilled you a sense of inner well-being and relaxation that rarely we reach...

But it doesn’t last long... an hour later we are already in the busy and noisy fish market of the city.

Fishmongers extolled their wares, many chefs cooked what you ordered directly from the stall and we did not miss the opportunity to taste various fried fishes!

16 september Busan (SOUTH KOREA)

At the feet of the largest Buddha in the country, with Buddhist chanting that gives you a sense of serenity; we are on a cliff in one of the most beautiful Buddhist temples ever visited... Beneath us the waves of the South China Sea crash on the sacred rocks, creating a harmonious contrast with the silent peace of the entire background.

 

It’s the “Sa Yong Gung Temple”, in the extreme outskirts of Busan.

How many new lessons we have received in just ten days of travel...

This country is so modern on the one hand, but still rooted to its old traditions and its ancient history on the other. I admit, I did not expect this: I was surprised!

I think South Korea can be summarized in a single district of Busan: “Jagalchi” where next to ancient and traditional spots made by tired fishermen and old women, there is a completely different and new side full of bars, cafes, pubs where students from dark skirts and white shirts or college kids with black necktie or lovers dressed alike meet and spend the evenings of the new generation.

After leaving the temple we try to reach the city by hitchhiking. Two minutes later two Korean teachers bring us to the closest subway, but only after showing us a high view point across the beautiful Bay of Haeundae.

At home, Sora, the couchsurfer who is hosting us here, prepares a delicious typical dinner to celebrate our honeymoon. It’s a party just for us and we sit "strictly" on the floor, Korean style, enjoying this great dinner armed with chopsticks around a Hello Kitty table...

Tomorrow we leave this great country by ferry towards Japan…

A new adventure is going to start!

 

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