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  • Day35

    Seowon and a Historic Village in Andong

    October 1, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ ☁️ 26 °C

    Time to finally leave Seoul, after 8 nights in South Korea! Checked out early and headed to the station, grabbing a subway to the bus terminal. We had tickets for a long-distance bus to Andong, about 3 hours to the south-east and roughly in the centre of the country. Another Premium style bus with seats three abreast, so it was quite comfortable.

    Arrived at midday where we hoped to drop bags at our nearby hotel and catch a local bus that was coming in 40 minutes. We quickly walked over to the hotel, but there was nobody there! It had a phone to call for someone, but they only spoke Korean so we headed back to the bus station. Just as we got back to the main road a guy pulled up yelling at us, and we realised he was the person we'd spoken to. Although it was well before check-in time, we were allowed to drop our bags in the room and scurry back to the bus station.

    Made it in time for the bus out of town, which took about an hour or so. The site for today was a Seowon, a Confucian academy. This WHS has a series of them scattered in remote locations all over Korea, but we'd decided to limit our visits to just one since they're all generally the same. This was quite a nice one, set in forested mountains with running streams nearby. Perfect for learning your Confucian ethics and morals, and preparing yourself for a life in the government bureaucracy. It was interesting, though not especially large, and we were done within an hour.

    Finishing up with this site, we headed for our next site: the nearby historic village of Hahoe. It was a 2 hour wait for the bus back, or a 4km walk so naturally we opted for the latter. Arrived at the village just in time for a free performance of traditional mask dancing. Obviously, the performers wear masks and dance around on a stage in front of musicians, while a narrator (and surtitles) explain what's going on. It was quite interesting, though the dancing wasn't especially vigorous - the story is more the point. I quite liked how the various masks really sold different characters like an old haggard woman, a young fisherman, a nobleman, a maiden etc. They were mostly played by middle-aged men, but the masks made you believe otherwise!

    After the performance we headed into the historic village. It felt a bit like the ancient village we visited in China, though most of the buildings here were wooden, rather than stone, and not especially old either. Though it was cool to see the clear distinction between peasant houses with thatched roofs and noble houses with tiled roofs. But on the whole the village felt a bit touristy with lots of residents selling souvenirs from their front yards, and of course their accoutrements of modern life like cars, satellite dishes and wifi routers were scattered around.

    Hurried out and managed to jump on a bus back into town, though we realised later that since we'd walked into the back way from the Seowon path, we'd missed the ticket booth (which is for some reason a kilometre from the entrance). So we didn't pay. Whoops!

    Back to Andong where we grabbed a quick bite for dinner at the bus station: Lotteria, the Korean burger chain.
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    Trish Forrester

    That's interesting. What type of building is it? I can't think of the purpose of the thatching...

    Trish Forrester

    Great that you got to see the performance - would have been refreshingly different!

    Joel Baldwin

    It’s actually a historic toilet!

    Trish Forrester

    Oh that's not what I was expecting! I can see a possible practical use for the thatching then!