Saturday, March 31, 2007


Stupid Tourist Saturday!

Today's adventures took us to Suwon which has as its main attraction a fortress. The 3 kilometers of wall surrounds a palace and along the wall there are some pretty serious battlements.
The fortress is the result of Korea's second crazy king who in the late 1700s decided he was tired of Seoul and wanted the capital moved to Suwon. Sound reasoning if you ask me.
The fortress is the Hwaseong Fortress, the Flower of Castles. It is fully restored and well worth the 1,000W entrance fee. You can find the fortress by taking the dark blue subway (line #1) to the Suwon station. It is a good 1.5 to 2 hour ride but the majority of it is above ground. The other option is to take a train from Seoul Station. The trains cost 3,000W and leave every half hour. It is about a 20 minute train ride. From Suwon Station, get in the extraordinarily long taxi cue and once in a taxi, direct him to the Paldalmoon front entrance gate of the fortress.
The day was overcast and cool which allowed for much reduced crowds but still enjoyable weather. Trees and bushes were blooming profusely. We began our trek along the wall.
All along the wall were notches for archers, firearms bastions, lookouts, hidden entrances, and catapult towers.
At the top of the mountain was a bell that starting in April (one day too early) could be rung for 1,000W. One ring is for your gratitude for your parents, two rings is for health and prosperity, and three rings is for the realization of your dreams.
There are four main gates and in between each gate, the walls are lined with different colored flags. White on the west wall, black on the east. Red on the north wall, blue on the south.
On either end of the fortress is a flood gate that leads into a nice stream. It is supposed to be one of the first restored streams marking an effort of environmental conservation.
Our stupid touristy day would not have been complete without a ride on the dragon trolley.

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