March 29th 2009 - Yangdong

March 29th 2009

Mystery Tour to Daegu

Ahhhh - Saturday was a good day ! After a hard week at work I was looking forward to a bit of R&R and TLC ! Things are getting busy at work and I guess I was still trying to recover from our trip to Shanghai. And then there is always the trip to Geoje Island for pipe inspections - those are 14-hour work days.

So Saturday ......Well, I got up early to go for a bike ride. Ingo left on vacations last Thursday, so it was a little hard to drag myself out on the bike. The low temperature (4 degrees!), the cold wind and Friday's Happy Hour didn't help much either. But I am proud to say that at 8 o'clock I was cruising past Miboo Dock Yard in search of an uphill ride where I could warm up a little. It was freezing !

Trying to be artistic (or just an excuse to rest a little on a steep uphill section?)

... and the long focus.

The cherry trees have started to show their colors. At sea level the trees are almost in full blossom, but as I worked my way up the hill I could see that the blossoming was less and less. Funny to see that nature works on such small margins. I was happy to have an excuse to stop a few times to take photos un the uphill (I wasn't tired at all!?!), but a little disappointed to see that my camera was low on battery. Damn - I would have to keep going then! Seeing that I only had to account for myself, I decided to go exploring a little. Normally, exploring means running into dead ends and ending up carrying your bike for most of the time, but yesterday I was lucky, tried out two really good new rides and found a couple of potential good rides to try out later. And the sun warmed up the day nicely. Sorry Ingo - you missed out on an awesome ride!!!

I named this new ride "5 Kings" for the supurb location of these tombs. A suitable resting place for kings - looking out over the mountains and the ocean.

A good ride but with a few short walking sections ...

This newly discovered ride starts at a new big graveyard and goes through a mine field to end at a military training ground. I think they might have gotten the sequence wrong !! I called this ride for "The Danger Zone"!

After a quick shower at home Paula and I got in the Sonata and picked up Carlos for a Mystery Tour to Costco (American Supermarket) in Daegu. We were short on cheese ....

As Daegu is a couple of hours away by car, we decided to make the most out of the day (which was now nice and warm) and made a detour to Yangdong Folk Village, north of GyeongJu. I was expecting something like the folk village by Bomun Lake, i.e. souvenir selling tourist trap, but was pleseantly surprised when I saw that this village was a lot more authentic. The houses were actually still occupied and I didn't see very many shops at all. The sun was shining and there were hardly any people around. With the trees blossoming, we had a really nice background for a stroll around.

Carlos and Paula in Yangdong.

Village scenery.

More tranquil village scenery.

Spring is a nice time here in Korea.

From Yangdong we continued towards Daegu until we reached Oksan Seowon. Or what we thought was the Seowon. A Seowon is a Confucian academy, and when we saw a huge temple like structure on the hill, we thought we had found it. Also at this place were we almost alone. The buildings were nice and the setting amazing, with a great view of the valley. All was fairly new and very well maintained. But - we still don't know what it was, as we later found the original Seowon down in the village! But nice it was ...

Cherry blossom.

Doesn't this look like a Confucian academy ? Having no idea about how a Confucian academy looked like, we were convinced this was it!

Rubbing the fat Buddha's belly is supposed to bring good luck.

Aye aye, Captain Carlos!

One of the beautiful buildings of the academy (?)

Paula, me and Buddha (and two very fierce warriors)

Oksan scenery

Down in the village we also found an old traditional Korean country house, Dongnakdang. This used to be the house of a very important Confucian scholar and some of his descendents are still living in parts of the house. On the way out of the village, we came across what we thought could be the original Seowon. There was no sign and it didn't really look like the right place, but i insisted that we stopped the car to have a look. After all, we weren't likely to come back. We didn't really know if we could enter (it looked more like a private home), but as foreigners we always have an excuse if we do something wrong, so through the door we went. Here we found another un-restored gem. Old houses with the original ondal (floor heating) and courtyards where you could feel transported to another time. It felt very authentic and far from the restored tourist sights near GyeongJu.

The cherry blossom just gave it an extra touch ...

Exiting Dongnakdang - the traditional country house of the better off ancestors.

The original Seowon - from 1572 and onwards.

There were no explanations, so we were free to make up our own history here! In the bottom left hand corner you can see the oven used to keep the floors warm

Even the normal buildings had heated floors - you can see another "under-floor" oven in the foundations of the house.

Oksan Seowon

Then it was on to Costco for a late lunch and cheese ! We somehow managed to spend a couple of hundred dollars on cheese!!! Then home in heavy traffic and REST. It was a good day - except for that speeding ticket I will (probably) get in a few weeks time! Bloody radars - I am so used to the stationary cameras that I don't even consider the possibility of hand held cameras.

Friday night after Happy Hour at Cafe Lime, we went to dinner at Boo together with Carlos and Henrik

During the dinner, Henrik received a call from somebody asking him to back up his parked car a meter or so. I guess he had reversed only just what was needed, because this is what we saw when we returned to the car after dinner (Henrik's car is to the left)

As a short post script, I can tell you that the second-to-last of our vessels was launched on Friday. Just one more to go ...