for August, 2014
First appeared on The Korea Blog: http://blog.korea.net/?p=22313
Visiting Suncheon wasn’t really part of my trip. One of my Korean friends sent me a Kakaotalk message and asked if I have made plans already in my upcoming travel to Korea. I was planning to just stay in Seoul most of the time. Then she suggested that I should visit Suncheon. I didn’t know that it was her hometown because I would usually meet her in Seoul during my previous Korea visits. I immediately said “yes” even though I was totally clueless on what to see there.
After almost 4 hours of bus travel, my Korean friend and I arrived in Suncheon around lunch time. We had a quick lunch and went right away to Naganeupseong Folk Village. The moment I saw it, I knew I made the right decision to do this sudden plan.
The place gives you a glimpse of what Korea was like centuries ago. Built during the Joseon Dynasty, the village is home to traditional-style stone houses with straw roofs. If you feel like these structures look familiar, it is because this compound is a popular filming location for TV dramas and movies.
I met an ahjumma (Korean word for an old woman) who had lots of Korean instruments. Watching her play thejanggu (a Korean traditional drum) was enough for me, but she approached me and gave me the drum. I initially declined since I’m not a musically inclined person but my Korean friend convinced me to give it a try.
It is actually tricky to play the janggu. The 2 sides of the drum produce different tones (due to the type of animal skin used) so it is important to know when to strike and what side to strike. For this practice, we used “Arirang,” a widely popular folk song in Korea. After learning the rhythm, she consequently sang the lyrics of the song.
The next house I visited made jipsin or traditional straw sandals. Binding the straws together was very challenging. The ahjussi (old man) taught me the technique of properly rolling them but I failed to make a twine. Nevertheless, he was very happy that I enthusiastically tried even though I was struggling.
Another interesting part of Naganeupseong Folk Village are the old punishment tools. Back in the ancient times, accused citizens are subjected to extreme kinds of torture until they admit to their crimes.
If these torture devices give you goosebumps, then it’s time to relax and enjoy around the village. Don’t miss trying these larger-than-life swings. While it looks easy, getting your momentum is actually difficult so prepare to test the power of your legs.
Always have your camera ready especially if you’re traveling with your family or friends. The village has vast spaces and picturesque backgrounds. You never know when will a picture-perfect moment happen so it pays to be alert at all times. I don’t know the little girl here but I was lucky to capture this free-spirited moment of her childhood.
And before you leave, you can bring a piece of the village by buying handmade ceramic cups and dishes like these.
We finished the Naganeupseong Folk Village tour at 4PM so that we can catch the sunset in Suncheonman Bay Ecological Park.
The moment I was in the field of reeds, the feeling was indescribable. It’s like getting lost in the middle of nowhere.
It roughly takes 30 to 40 minutes to go to the Yongsan observatory, the place where you can get the best view of Suncheon Bay. The trail was a breeze but hiking up the mountain was a whole different story. I wish I did a bit of body stretching and brought a liter of bottled water. But all of my tiredness was gone after seeing this breathtaking view.
It’s always a pleasure to escape the bustling noise of the city and just absorb the sounds of nature. So if you’re planning a trip to Korea, include Suncheon in your itinerary.
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