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Published: February 13th 2008
Trip to Daegu
One of the few trips by car
#8- THREE BIG CITIES
1-THE CITY OF DAEGU AND THE SKYTOILET.
The closest city to my village is called Daegu (Day-goo) and is the third largest city in South Korea and is about the size of Sydney. It takes me about two hours and three bus changes to get to the centre of the city. By car, it takes about 40 minutes over a beautiful (but dangerous-in-winter) mountain range. In winter, most people drive along the safer valley highway which takes about 50 minutes.
I sometimes go to the Downtown area for shopping of rare western items and a change of scene. There are a few things to see around the city, most of which I will save for warmer weather. There are a few movie theaters also, which show the latest ‘big-name’ American movies; usually not a very good range. The trick is buying the right ticket, since the writing on the American movie poster is in Korean and the locals often give the movie another name-all very confusing.
There is a “Walking Street” mall in the centre of town with street stalls also for window shopping. There are also many expensive Western shops here too; $A130 for
Trip to Daegu
Everybody lives in huge appartment blocks all over the city
a pair of pyjamas- no thanks! I still can’t find much to buy. I never was a good consumer.
The shops usually have songs blasting out of them. At the moment a song I am hearing a lot of and getting sick of is a super fast ‘disco-yodeling-doof’ type song. I just can’t wait for the ‘ring tone’!
I caught the very efficient Subway system out to the Daegu Tower for a bird’s eye view of the city. The view is similar in all directions; skyscraper apartment blocks disappearing into the mountains in the distance. There are also many hill/mountains throughout the suburbs, but they don’t seem to build on these like in Hong Kong. This tower also has a bungee jump plateform at the top (closed when I was there) and a ‘Sky Toilet’. This means that the toilet has a view from the urinal (Lavatron) and cubicles over the city to inspire you. (See video)
I, am still struggling thru the English camps and getting more miserable with the cold and often snowy weather. The one consolation is that the snow actually does make nice patterns everywhere, so I have been out taking a few photos around
Shopping at Christmas time
Santa and Korean Characters outside shop
the village again.
Chinese New Year holiday is coming up, where everybody leaves the cities to go home to families in the villages, so I will take advantage of this time and head the other way. I was not really keen on seeing the capital, Seoul, but since it is 50 minutes away by easy subway from another smaller city I wanted to see (Suwon) I thought I might as well see a couple of interesting places there also.
Suwon is a smallish city with an old fort wall called Hwaseong, which is a World Heritage site. The fort was built about 1796 and of course, the city has now expanded way beyond this. Most of the ‘tallish’ buildings were on the outside and a long way from the wall. Still, the city had a good feel about it. There slogan is "Happy Suwon". The fort was built on the latest principles from China and Japan. There was also a palace complex inside the wall, which although pleasant, actually had no greenery. I don't know if this is a true reconstruction or not. It was a very pleasant walk along the wall on a nice sunny day on
the Chinese New Year Holiday so there were not many people around. The city walls are about six kilometres around with only one real hill to climb (see video).
A building, on the outside, which really stood from most places on the wall, was a massive black (gothic?) Catholic Church. It was huge with four levels of car park on the hill below. I just had to investigate. I was hoping to see a large cathedral like area inside to see how it compared with European churches. The place was very confusing, even outside. The four levels of car park were completely made of metal, even the floor. It looked very strong, but when I tried to take a short cut over a metal railing fence, it almost fell over, because it was not connected to the ground. I'm glad I didn't have to drive in.
Inside was even more confusing. I guess it was a slow time for them since it was not a Christian holiday. There was a photographic exhibition and kids eating fruit around small tables, in the lobby area. I went looking for the big main area of the church. I saw a service in a
There's never a short supply of teddy bears
very ordinary looking big room with a low ceiling. That can't be it, surely. I went upstairs for a good look around. It was a real labyrinth with no people around, most rooms closed, some with huge metal 'rolladoors'. One closed room with a glass door was like a huge kid’s playgroup room. I was not getting very far in my search. It was more like a deserted office block than a church. After walking about ten kilometres thru the city and along the wall, I decided to give up after the seventh floor and go home. Altogether, though, a very enjoyable day, even if one mystery was left unsolved.
Seoul is less than an hour away by subway. It's supposed to be a separate city, but I really could not tell where Suwon ended and Seoul began. The air was super cold when the train doors opened, but thanks to the super-heated metal seats, warm blood soon flowed to the rest of my body! As we came into the last few stations over a river, there seemed to be about another 5 or 6 bridges (that I could see) either side of the one I was
One cool teddy even escaped and made into the big league and got his own shop."Teenie Weenie" is very popular.
on. I was surprised that the city towers were not as high as I expected. Then I realized that the buildings were a lot wider than I had ever seen before. I guess it's all relative.
Once again an excellent English tourist service to go with the transport system. Seoul has many (mostly reconstructed) ancient palaces (again, many are World Heritage sites) dotted around the city all joined up by a circular bus route- very convenient. So, I got to see most of them. Unfortunately, one of these palaces, you could only see on a group tour. One poor tourist on his own was soon 'scooped up' into our group and you could see he was really p*ssed off about it. I as going to sneak off later myself, as I usually do. After learning couple of interesting facts I decide to stay on 'til the end. These palaces were used at the end of the Joseon Dynasty before Japanese colonization in 1905. So you could see a few modern Western innovations, such as western kitchens, electric lights etc. However the promise of more interesting facts did not eventuate. I wish I had sneaked off now, but I left
There is even a 'Teenie Weenie University' tee shirt. His motto is "All that bear"-How cool is that!
it too late.
The main palace was like a smaller version of the Forbidden City in Beijing, but different again. Since it was still holiday time there were many activities around these palaces being performed by the local people. Altogether, another nice day.
As good as these days were, I actually came home a day earlier to prepare for trip to Cambodia next week. It takes about a day travel for me to get anywhere in Korea from where I am because a lot of time is spent waiting for bus connections. Again, it will take a day’s travel just to get to the airport for Cambodia! (I bet you all feel reeeeally sorry for me?) I also had to prepare lessons, organize, and do other domestics etc for my return since after arriving home late from +33 degree heat, I will be teaching in -3 degrees early next day! What fun!
Next blog in March on Cambodia.
PS the three earlier videos in this entry (Gyeongju/Expo) are from last year. I have now caught up on all the older videos.
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