Now this was the real day trip. Day 3 had us going to Seoul station to catch a train bound for Suwon. It was raining and bone-numbing cold the entire day, but obviously that wasn’t going to stop us.
- Korean Folk Village. So off we went to Seoul station to get our tickets for the Nuriro train (KRW2700 only) bound for Busan. We got off at the Suwon stop, looked for the Tourist Information Center to get the bus information, and waited out inside the adjacent fancy mall for warmth because it was too damn cold outside.
We ran out just in time to catch the free bus to the Korean Folk Village (KFV), and after a 30-minute bus ride we were welcomed by frigid, nippy air, light but really cold rain and soddy ground in the KFV.
Since it was lunch time, we headed for the nearest restaurant and had the best, hottest soup in all the land (felt like it) before we went out and braved the rain again. The folk village featured traditional houses mapped as they would have been in the Joseon era, and there were performances every few hours in different places in the village, such as a traditional wedding and a tightrope exhibition, both of which we did not see because the rain won’t stop. We managed to watch a musical drum performance though, and we wandered through muddy ground and found a museum, wandered some more and then headed back out for our next adventure.
- Hwaseong Fortress. We got instructions to find the 7-11 bus stop and take bus#37, and get off at the 2001 Outlet stop. We managed to do that (thanks to a vigilant watch of the stops and my crude Hangul), but when we got off, we were a bit lost, so we gave in and hailed a cab. The grumpy driver got us to the information center, and the kind lady there told us that the train that usually takes tourists around part of the 5.52km fortress wall is not operating because of yes, the stupid rain. But she did tell us of a 40-minute walk on the wall that we can take, and so we did that. Hwaseong Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site from the Joseon Dynasty, and the wall and the 4 gates still stand. We started our trek from the Hwaseonmun gate, then back to the Paldalmun gate.
This was a more surreal experience than going around Gyeongbokgung. That palace was in the middle of Metropolitan Seoul, but going inside transports you to history. Walking the Hwaseong walls on the other hand gives you the feeling that you’re straddling past and present, seeing cars and buses zoom by on one side and high school students walk along the streets to their homes on the other side. (And for fellow GoT geeks, yes there are Watchers of the Wall vibes happening too). It would have been amazing to see the entire length of this in better weather. Maybe next time. After our trek we found a chimaek joint and a Tom n Tom’s coffee shop, where we went for some much needed warmth and sustenance. Then we found the bus stop near Paldalmun gate and got on a bus back to Suwon station, then a train back to Myeongdong.