Monday, May 16, 2011

Photo Journal: Korea

A photo journal using a few of my favorite photos of our trip to Korea. 

We spent the first two and a half days of the trip in Seoul where we visited a palace, a shrine, a Buddhist temple, the Korean War Memorial, climbed a huge hill to the Seoul Tower, went to a giant park where 
legions of old men play Baduk (Go), wandered through a few large markets, and ate a huge variety of Korean food. 

Highrises stretch as far as your eye can see in any direction.*
Gyeongbuk Palace
One of the emperors would use this island to practice his archery.
So much for the art of Asian contemplation.
An historic reenactment of the changing of the palace guards.
Jogyesa Temple at dusk, our first Buddhist Temple.

We took a bus to Seoraksan (se-rock-san) for one day. (It was the most comfortable bus I've ever been on.) We stayed in the National Park at a lovely hotel with a gorgeous view of the snow capped peaks and blooming cherry trees. We took an early morning hike up to a cave before breakfast. It was an exhausting, continuous climb, ending with hundreds of steps up the side of a rugged cliff. After breakfast, we visited the temple nestled in between the mountains, rode a cable car up into the mountains, and hiked to a waterfall, while Nathan climbed to the teetering rock (another thousand steps) and then came back to hike to the waterfall. Even he had to admit to being worn out that afternoon.
After hauling myself up the final metal steps, only to
discover the vendor carts and realize that people have
climbed this route while carrying a whole cart along.*
One of the rugged craggy
peaks we saw as we climbed.
McArdles in Korea
Water for purification and cleansing.
"Tongil Daebul," bronze Buddha statue.
Sinheungsa Temple at Seoraksan

You could make a donation and write a supplication or prayer on a
curved slate that would later be used in roofing the temple buildings.
The slates were covered in every imaginable language.
From Seorakson, we headed to Daejeon (tay-jyan), Jenny's current hometown. There, we saw the university and a few other places where she volunteers and spends her time, went to a jimjillbang, an art museum, the arboretum, explored the town, ate some more delicious Korean food, and tried to go to a baseball game but got rained out, so we headed to a bar instead (not all that different from Chicago with that one).

Feeling my lousiest at this point of the trip.*
From Daejeon, we took a train to the port town of Busan (poo-san), where we stayed at a love hotel, saw a group performing traditional dancing and drumming in a square near our hotel, went to Jagalchi, Korea's largest fish market, where we had some delicious grilled fish for breakfast, headed to the shore, and then went to the UN Memorial Cemetary.

Cherry blossoms in the background.

The white ribbons you can see looping through the background
were actually attached to the end of some of the dancers' hats.
They would whip their heads around to make the ribbons fly.
One of the fishmongers at Jagalchi
preparing something we could never identify.

The shore in Busan almost looks like the Emerald City.

We said goodbye to Jenny, Susanne, and Shirley in Busan and then headed to the island of Jeju for three days. We arrived on Sunday night, took a long bus ride to our hotel in Seogwipo, and then had a Korean dinner of sea urchin and broiled mackeral. Our first morning we saw Jeongbang Waterfall and then headed to rent a Vespa. When we had the motorbike, we headed east to see the resorts, Yakchunsa Temple, the volcanic columns, Cheonjeyeon Falls, and then had some delicious black bean sauce noodles for dinner. Our final day on Jeju, we headed north to Halla-san (Halla Mountain), went to the Bijarim (Nutmeg) Forest, the Sangumburi Crater, hiked along a volcanic cave-filled coast, and climbed up to Sanbanggulsa, which had a temple, a shrine, and a larger mustachioed golden Buddha before heading back to Seogwipo to have some of the island's famous black boar and explore the port. After we returned our trusty Vespa, we explored the open markets and considered buying our own Baduk game, but settled on a pile of snacks for the trip home instead. In the morning, we took a harrowing taxi ride to the airport and began our long trip home.
Our comfort level on the bike dramatically improved after two days of maneuvering.**

All the Buddhist temples were preparing for Buddha's
birthday on May 10th by hanging lanterns everywhere.

Yakchunsa Temple, our first stop after getting the bike.

The beautiful insides of the temple.
The matching outfits and peace signs
required of "real" Jeju tourists.
Offerings to Buddha at Sanbanggulsa
One of the Korean fishing ships in port in Seogwipo.

*Photos by Jenny McArdle. 
**Photo by motorbike rental guy.
All other photos by Hanna McArdle. Please ask permission before using.


  1. Good post!!! Good summary and looks fantastic. (but the game is not Go, it is Baduk, fyi). Loved having you here!!

  2. Your pictures are fascinating. I love all the bright colors! And I'm not sure that I have ever had Korean food but now I feel the need to try it.

  3. Jenny, fixed. Thanks!

    Abby, Korean BBQ is fantastic! I think that is a great first thing to try.

  4. Hanna, your pictures and descriptions are perfect. Wish I could have done half as well. In my memory, the trip keeps getting better every time I think about it. Let's do someplace new every year!

  5. This sounds like an adventure. The colors are so vibrant. I'm a Vespa lover and get to ride once or twice in the summer in NY. It's such a freeing experiencing scooting around with the wind in your face. How amazing to do it in such a lush and exotic place.

  6. These pictures are gorgeous, Hanna! You should frame some of them for your home!