Elizabeth Shanahan


Elizabeth Shanahan

Asia » South Korea » Busan » Geumjeongsan September 23rd 2012

Well, I had great plans, and, true to form, didn't manage half of them! I did go back to Jalgachi, but sadly didn't eat there. The market was absolutely heaving on a hot Sunday afternoon (and not all the fish were smelling hugely fresh either...), so it was move with the crowd or be trampled! South of Busan, there is a small island called Yeongdo-gu, attached to the mainland by a few bridges just East of Jalgachi. The West of the island has a costal walkway called Jeoryeong, which I decided would be nice to visit. Apparently, it's best to start at the beginning of the walkway, walk down the coast and then either double back or climb the stairs in the cliff face and catch the bus back down. Being me, of course, I entirely ... read more
View from Jeoryeong Coastal Walkway
View from Jeoryeong Walkway

Asia » South Korea » Jeju » Jeju-si September 22nd 2012

My final day in Jeju I spent in the capital city, Jeju-si. For the most part, I walked around the city, drinking in the sights and smells. Just a small aside here to moan about the tourist maps in Korea. None of them are to scale so it is really, really hard to get a sense of how long going between two places on the map will take you. They hardly, if ever, give you the sodding street names - instead putting in random and rather useless landmarks (generally hotels, shopping centres or hospitals whose names in real life may, or then again may not, be in English). And they never NEVER give you the place in hangeul as well. So if you are, say, speaking to someone who can't read English (or Korean words written ... read more
Institute of Birthday studies
Diving Grannies

Asia » South Korea » Jeju » Seongsan September 21st 2012

I've already said that Jeju is a volcanic island. And where there are volcanoes there is lava and lava leaves behind... lava tubes. And it was to see the largest of these lava tube systems, Mang Jang cave, that I went today. Mang Jang cave stretches about 7km in its entirety, but only 1km is open to the public. It is apparently the natural habitat of a number of endangered plant and animal species (including two kinds of bat and a salamander) hence the need to restrict human access. This is also presumably the reason why many of the other lava tubes on Jeju have been closed to the pubic. It was a scorching hot day, so I was glad to go into the cool (and slightly damp, dripping) cave. The ground was uneven but reasonably ... read more
Mangjang Lava Tube
Mangjang Lava Tube
Mangjang Lava Tube

Asia » South Korea » Jeju » Seogwipo September 20th 2012

I decided to have a full day today, partly because there is so much to do, and partly to make up for doing practically nothing those two days in Busan. So, with the best intentions I was up and ready early and decided to take the bus into town. Oops. We headed off in completely the wrong direction and then stopped at some random high school for about 15 minutes. At which point the driver, bless him, decided (rightly) that I was lost and (hmmm) that he was going to help me. He was very kind but between his non-existent English and my non-existent Korean it was painful, to say the least. In the end, we did manage to agree that the bus would take me to the right place (once it got going again), so ... read more
Bridge to Sae Seom Island
Touring Submarine
Submarine Tour

Asia » South Korea » Jeju » Seogwipo September 19th 2012

Left Busan as leisurely as I arrived and made my way to Jeju Island, the largest of the islands surrounding the Korean peninsula. Jeju is a volcanic island and full of mountains/extinct volcanoes and their leavings (the cities I have seen so far seem to be entirely paved in pumice, which is quite a nice effect). Jeju's primary industry was, unsurprisingly, fishing. Given the strong Pacific currents and whims, a lot of the menfolk were killed or away at sea for long periods. As a result, the island was a de facto matriarchy and is apparently famous in Korea for the fortitude of its women. In particular, the women used to dive (to quite extraordinary depths, unaided) to collect oysters, and apparently there are certain villages in Jeju and its surrounding islets where this tradition is ... read more
View of Seogwipo Harbour
Seogwipo Harbour

Asia » South Korea » Busan » Geumjeongsan September 18th 2012

Having made it safely out of Gyeongju - despite it blowing a gale and sheeting rain - and through the eye of the storm to the port city of Busan, I was sightly relieved/strangely disappointed to find that the storm had already passed Busan and, although it was still a little windy, it was dry. I had, partly because of the typhoon, booked myself a room in a proper hotel as a little treat and, frankly, spent most of my two days in Busan relaxing. I did, however, manage to make it to Busan's Chinatown so I had my Chinese food fix - well, Chinese food Korean-style, at least. And I also made it to Jalgachi fish market, which is a fairly famous bustling chaos of place that sells anything (and I mean anything) that comes ... read more
Jalgachi Market
Jalgachi Market
Book vending machine

Asia » South Korea » Gyeongsangbuk-do » Gyeongju September 16th 2012

Final day in Gyeongju and I at last realise that the reason the weather has been so poor recently is that there is a tropical storm approaching. By all accounts, it won't be serious, just a bit windier and rainier than at present - but at least I understand where there is persistent rain and now wind. The storm is due to hit Gyeongju in the course of Monday afternoon (tomorrow), so I made the most of my last day of comparatively good weather to go see the Underwater Tomb of King Munmu the Great. Better known as the Silla king who first unified six clans/tribes into what we now know as Korea. Yes, I had visions of great underwater cave complexes, too, when I first heard about it. The actual tomb (or what remains of ... read more
Tomb of Great King Munmu
Bonggil Beach
Bonggil Beach

Asia » South Korea » Gyeongsangbuk-do » Gyeongju September 15th 2012

Fairly quiet day today (and no photos I'm afraid). I headed off (in the drizzle) for the Gyeongju National Museum, where all the treasures unearthed in the Silla tombs have been carted off to and displayed. For the most part, the excavation of the tombs didn't start until the 1970s (the first royal tomb was discovered when the "hill" was levelled in preparation for building works. Starting so late means that the excavation was highly organised and carefully documented at each stage. The National Museum is split into three buildings: the archeological building, which contains a collection of the most breath-taking artefacts from the various Silla royal tombs, the Buddhist art building and the Anapji building, which contains a selection of the artefacts recovered from the Anapji pond, which was the site of a Silla palace. ... read more

Asia » South Korea » Gyeongsangbuk-do » Gyeongju September 14th 2012

In almost British style, the drizzle set in today - no torrent like my first day in Korea (thankfully), but enough to be irritating. Undeterred, I headed for the temple at Bulguksa ("bool-guh-ksah"), a quite stunning Buddhist monastery (only parts of which are open to the public as the monastery itself is still practising) to the South East of the city. Me, and a hundred school kids on a day out. The sensation of being mobbed by a screaming horde of barbarians aside, I quite like watching school trips as it reminds me that, wherever you are in the world and whatever language you speak, trips with your school are always the same. Someone spills their lunch on someone else, the fat kid lags behind (s/he didn't want to come, anyway), one kid plays pranks on ... read more
Bulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple
Bell ringer

Asia » South Korea » Gyeongsangbuk-do » Gyeongju September 13th 2012

Before the oh-so-talked-of Joseon dynasty, there was the Silla ("Shilla") dynasty. A small collection of clans and peoples on Korea's South West coast that banded together and expanded between around 70 BC and 1000 AD. And their capital was Gyeongju. The (small) city was earmarked early on as culturally important in Korean history and has been carefully (one might almost say obsessively) kept very traditional. Former President, Park Chung-Hee (fun fact - assassinated father of the current Presidential candidate Park) used quite draconian measures - prescribing that there were to be no buildings above a certain height, imposing strict planning permission conditions and requiring all roof to be the traditional Korean tiled roof. This has meant that, while the city has remained highly traditional - and you can actually look around you to the mountains surrouding ... read more
Silla Tombs - Noseo
Silla Tombs - Noseo

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