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  • Day30

    Royal Tombs & City Walls

    September 26, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Day trip out of the city to visit a World Heritage site, a pattern that's going to be repeated a bunch of times for the next few days! Up early and headed to the metro, following our directions east to the town of Guri. One really annoying thing about the metro here is that some of the lines split, but it never mentions which direction the train is going. Sort of like in Sydney how the south coast line trains are all on the blue line, but half of them go to Cronulla and the others go to Wollongong.

    Seoul has the same thing except yeah, it doesn't tell you which are Cronulla and which are Wollongong trains. You can probably see where this is going. Our app said to change to line 2 at a particular station, so we did and just hopped on the next train. It was a bit different since it wasn't a metro train, it was all seated, but it headed the right direction before veering away north and picking up speed. Eventually with the help of a local guy we figured out it was a train, not the subway, and that we'd need to get off at the next stop.

    At least it wasn't too far away, so we hopped off, switched platforms and waited 15 minutes for the next train back. That was all fine, if a bit annoying, until the ticket inspector turned up. As it turns out, this was an express train and our metro tap-on tickets didn't cover it. The inspector was an old guy and didn't know much English beyond "ticket" and "penalty". I google translated a few messages explaining the situation and that we didn't even know where to buy tickets (I think he was trying to sell them but they were quite expensive), and eventually he threatened to call the police on his radio.

    Which he did, and then escorted us to the rear carriage and his compartment. I had a feeling something was up, since he hadn't pushed the talk button on his radio when calling, and nobody had answered him. When we got to his compartment his demeanour changed massively, the train arrived at the next station, and we got off with no issues. It was a confusing situation but I think he just wanted to save face in front of the locals who could see him confronting us about not having tickets.

    Not wanting to take another chance, we left the station and took a bus the rest of the way. We'd wasted an hour, but at least nothing worse had happened! As it was, the site wasn't super interesting. It was a collection of royal tombs from the Joseon dynasty, which ruled Korea from the 14th-20th centuries. The tombs are scattered all around the peninsula but this is the largest collection in one area.

    It's a nice environment with a forest and a series of buildings in front of a large mound where the king and/or queen is actually buried. Interestingly, none of the tombs have ever been opened, so aside from the buildings there wasn't much to actually see. We wandered around, but were done within about 90 minutes.

    Caught a bus back to the station where we carefully caught the right train back into the city. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around sections of the city walls. They were progressively built over hundreds of years, but are still running through large sections of the city. It was interesting to see via the stonework which parts had been built when! They're on the tentative world heritage list, and since SK is pretty organised it will probably get added in the next couple of years.
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