Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Hwaseong Fortress

It was around 10 pm when we arrived at Incheon Airport, and 10 pm when we had left Auckland, so I was ready to pass out. The trip across the South and East China seas had not provided much accommodation for sleep, and so, I was not in the mood for filling out all these arrival forms. When it got to the stage in which I was required to summarise my lodging details - who I would be staying with and where, I felt as if I could kick myself. I knew who I was staying with - my Auntie, who lived somewhere in Suwon, but exact locations or contact numbers I could not provide. I felt rather stupid is this is something I should have expected to write - so instead, I simply wrote my Auntie's name, and location - Suwon. Ironically, they accepted this information from me, but Antony was required to give more. We made it out in the end all fine, and met Suzanne at the gate - Korea had made her thinner since seeing her earlier on in the year back home. She was with her landlord, Sung-Yun, who would drive us back to her apartment and later on show us around Korea. 

After being welcomed with a fried chicken dinner and soju, we went to the local corner shop, feeling very weird that we were drinking beer in public. A tiny old man carrying a rickshaw eyed our cans, and we realised he was a rubbish collector. I said 'kamsahamnida' for taking away our rubbish. One thing that can really take you back to a place you've visited is it's smell, and for me, the cities of Korea smelled dominantly of rubbish. Whenever I walk by a full bag of rubbish, it takes me back to the streets of Suwon. Below is the view from outside our apartment.

The next day, Sung-Yun came by to take us to Hwaseong, the original capital of the Korean Kingdom. I was still suffering from much Jet-Lag and exhaustion, but I wanted to see as much as I could. We went to an archery range, and the famous fortress, which was destroyed by the Japanese and then recreated. We took a dragon carriage to the mountain where we could see an overview of Gyeonggi-do region. In Hwaseong Haenggung - the old residence of the King (which was free admission for Sang-Yun but incurred a charge for us non-Koreans), I made a wish and tied it to the 600 year old wish-tree. To be honest, my wish was nothing noble and great. I was sick of being single, and I wanted a girlfriend. When I got back to New Zealand, I made an awesome girlfriend, whom I am still with now, 8 months later, who happens to be Korean. Maybe the wish-tree does work, after all. My advice is that if you visit the tree, try to make your wish something small.