Precious Moment In The Mountain (Post#9) : Mount Paldal (Paldal Mountain)
When we visited South Korea last June this year, we never realized that we trekked a mountain because of our eagerness to walk around Hwaseong Fortress and my senior mother able to climb the mountain with us. The photo above was one of the scenery within the fortress and its surrounding area to witness at the top of the mountain while we were at SeoJangdae (Western Command Post) Area inside Hwaseong Fortress.
After the show of martial arts at Sinpungnu, we looked at the map in our hand again to check what else we can visit in Hwaseong Fortress heritage site. We decided to go around the fortress without being aware how long it will take for us to finish the tour. From Hwaseong Haenggung, we turned left until we reached Paldalmun one of the four main gates in the fortress. Paldalmun is the south gate and based from Wikipedia, it houses a bell called Paldalmun Dongjong but we were not able to see the bell since we were not able to come inside the gate. This gate was not damaged during Korean war.
Paldalmun (South Gate)
From Paldalmun, we did some trek in Paldal Mountain using the road halfway and stair on the other half. On the way, we stopped in different fort, post and secret gates in the fortress namely: NamChi (Southern Turret), NamPoru (Southern Cannon Fort), SeonamiChi (Yongdodongchi – Turret East of Yongdo), SeonamGangnu (Southwestern Pavilion), SeonamilChi (Southwestern Turret), SeonamAmmun (Southwestern Secret Gate) and SeosamChi (Western Turret III). Along the way, we stopped as well in Memorial of Korean Independence to check the area and to have rest a bit. We continued our walk until we reached SeoJangdae Tourist Information Center. Then, we found the Bell of Hyowon for Filial Piety. Based from the guide that we have, the bell represents Suwon as a city of filial piety. I found out as well that King Jeongjo has a desire to move the capital from Seoul to Suwon.
On the way to SeonamGangnu
SeonamGangnu (Southwestern Pavilion)
SeonamAmmun (Southwestern Secret Gate) From SeonamGangnu
SeonamAmmun (Southwestern Secret Gate)
Memorial of Korean Independence
March 1st Independence Movement Memorial
Entrance to SeoJangdae Tourist Information Center
Bell of Hyowon for Filial Piety
The walk and trek continue until we saw other post, fort and secret gates at the top of Paldal Mountain such as Seoporu (Western Sentry Post), SeoAmmun (Western Secret Gate), SeoJangdae (Western Command Post) where we have a great view of Haenggung from the top, SeoNodae (Western Crossbow Platform), SeoiChi (Western Turret II), Seoporu (Western Cannon Port), SeoilChi (Western Turret I), SeobukGangnu (Northwestern Pavilion). Another main gate we passed which is called Suwon Hwaseomun (West Gate).
Seoporu (Western Sentry Post)
Surounding Views From SeoJangdae (Western Command Post) Area
Hwaseong Haenggung Views From SeoJangdae (Western Command Post) Area
SeoJangdae (Western Command Post)
Seoporu (Western Cannon Port)
Some snapshots of Fortress Trail
SeoilChi (Western Turret I)
SeobukGangnu (Northwestern Pavilion)
Snapshot From SeobukGangnu (Northwestern Pavilion) area
Trail View From Suwon Hwaseomun (West Gate)
Suwon Hwaseomun (West Gate) Snaphots along Fortress trail
SeobukGangnu (Northwestern Pavilion) From Ground
View From Suwon Hwaseomun (West Gate)
SeobukGingsimdon (Northwestern Watchtower) and Suwon Hwaseomun (West Gate)
Then, we passed as well the following: SeobukGingsimdon (Northwestern Watchtower), BukPoru (Northern Sentry Post), BukseoPoru (Northwestern Sentry Post) and BukseoJeokdae (Northwestern Gate Guard Platform). Next main gate we saw was the north gate which is called Janganmun (Bungmun – North Gate) which is the largest such gate in South Korea. Janganmun gate is part of the fortress that has been destroyed and reconstructed.
SeobukGingsimdon (Northwestern Watchtower)
BukPoru (Northern Sentry Post)
BukseoJeokdae (Northwestern Gate Guard Platform)
Janganmun (Bungmun – North Gate)
From Janganmun, we passed the following: BukdongJeokdae (Northeastern Gate Guard Platform), BukdongChi (Northeaster Turret), BukdongPoru (Northeastern Cannon Fort), Hwahongmun (Buksumon – Northern Floodgate) where we had a great view of Suwoncheon (stream), DongbukGaknu (Suwon Banghwasuryujeong – Northeastern Pavilion), BukAmmun (Northern Secret Gate), DongbukPoru (Northeastern Sentry Post), DongAmmun (Eastern Secret Gate), DongJangdae (Eastern Command Post), Yeonmudae Tourist Information Center and the last of the four main gate which is Changnyongmun (East Gate). This gate was destroyed during Korean war as well and has been completely restored. We also found from a far the DongbukGongsimdon (Northeastern Observation Tower).
The western side of the fortress is a mountain side, therefore, we weren’t able to imagine that we completed at least or more than 75% of the fortress. The part that we weren’t able to see is the eastern side. We never able to finish it since it’s getting dark. I was surprised that my mother was able to survive in this walking tour with half of it were trekking, maybe because we enjoyed all the things we saw along the way. When we arrived at Janganmun gate, heavy rain fell and we rested a while in the said gate until someone from tourist office trying to lock the gate. We were surprised at first until the personnel told us that he is going to lock the gate, if we were not aware what is happening and if he did not saw us, we will be ended locked-up in Janganmun, the good thing, it did not happen.
We ended the tour at the front of Changnyongmun which is the East Gate. From there, we took bus going back to Suwon station and followed the same route we did when we come to Suwon.
We had a very tiring day that day but for us it was another great walking adventure tour in South Korea.
For this day, we planned to go to another historical site of South Korea which is outside Seoul, that is Suwon Hwaseong Fortress which is part of Gyeonggi-do province. As I preferred our way to go to this place without getting tour, we ended the tour with pride because we accomplished something in this fortress and here’s what happened to us.
From hotel, we took metro train which was our usual mode of transportation while touring around Seoul. And that time, we did the same thing when went to Suwon. We started at Non-hyeon station which is Line 7 going to Bupyeong. We transferred in Line 1 at Gasan Digital Complex (GDC) and then we got off at Suwon station where AK Plaza is also located. At the front of the plaza I tried to inquire how to go to Hwaseong Fortress and they mentioned to us to take a bus. The people at information center gave us the bus number. When we were out of the Suwon station, it seems the front of the AK Plaza are like crossing roads which means it’s a busy road since it’s near in the mall and you can find as well some public transport terminal around the area and we are confused where to find the bus that will bring us to the fortress. After inquiring with one of the passing students, she helped us and we crossed the road Maesan-ro. We found our bus and we were able to use our T-money card. It took us few more minutes until we were dropped off at the front of Hwaseong Haenggung Square. Here we found Hwaseong Haenggung information center at the front of the main gate. We bought tickets that combined overall access to the Hwaseong fortress. Our adventure started at lunch time and it’s a beautiful sunny afternoon. Using our mapping tour we started our walk from the gate of Haenggung.
Sinpungnu (outside view)
Sinpungnu (from inside Jwaikmun)
Haenggung sometimes called as temporary palace or detached palace, because this palace serves as palace of the King when the King was not at the capital during Joseon dynasty. The famous king who requested this fortress to build was King Jeongjo (or widely know as Yi San in historical drama). Once we entered in Haenggung, the first thing we noticed were two famous characters played in Daejanggeum (Jewel in the Palace) drama standing in the corner which located at Jwaikmun (the area after you entered the main gate or entrance called Sinpungnu). They are Lee Young Ae (Seo Jang-Geum) and Ji Jin Hee (Min Jung Ho) in their character outfit. Since they are famous, people visiting the place will stand either between them or at the side to have souvenir shots even though it’s just photos of them and not real. We took photos of ourselves as well when it’s been our turn.
Lee Young Ae (Seo Jang-Geum) and Ji Jin Hee (Min Jung Ho)
Daejanggeum (Jewel in the Palace) historical drama
Then, we turned right and found Jipsacheong, based on the map that we have in our hand, Jipsacheong was an administrative office for jipsa, specialist for royal rites and reception at temporary palace. Here we saw dolls displayed covered with glass. Those dolls portray different kinds of clothes wore by Royal family (like King and Queen) and other Joseon court officials.
Dolls displaying Royal Dress and Court Official Dress (Joseon Dynasty)
There was a tree standing near the entrance to Jipsacheong and we found some information displayed there about the said tree. And it’s amazing information we found, the tree is called as “The Zelkova Tree” is more than 600 years old and been there even before building the Hwaseong Fortress.
The Zelkova Tree
Next, we went to Jungyangmun area which is the next area after Jwaikmun. Here we saw Royal Guard standing in the middle at the front in the entrance to Bongsudang. We walked until we reached Bongsudang. From the map guide that we have, Bongsudang is the main hall you can find in Hwaseong Haenggung. And here, the 61st birthday of the mother of King Jeongjo was held. Based from the information displayed near the building, Bongsudang was the most important building of the temporary palace and it was where King Jeongjo stayed when he visited Suwon.
Some displays that can be found inside Bongsudang
Feast Model at Bongsudang (during 60th birthday of Lady Hyegyeonggung – mother of King Jeongjo)
After looking around the area of Bongsudang, we turned right and went out at the right side, where we found Naknamheon. It is said that this building was the only building in temporary palace which was not destroyed and remain intact on its original form. This building was specially designed facility for various events such as state examinations and banquets for old people during Lady Hong of Hyegyeonggung’s (mother of King Jeongjo) 61st Birthday Ceremony. Beside the building of Naknamheon, is Noraedang and I learned that this building were created as King Jeongjo wanted to live here in his old days after abdicating from the throne. Next building in Noraedang is called Deukjungjoeng. At the front of the said building, King Jeongjo practiced archery, it was named after the king hits the bull’s-eye.
Naknamheon (side view)
Naknamheon (rear view)
Noraedang (rear view)
Naknamheon and Noraedang
Naknamheon, Noraedang, and Deukjungjeong
Afterwards, we found a way to the hill-side (which is part of Mount Paldal) just behind Hwaseong Haenggung. Out of curiosity, we followed the track to the top to check if we can see something there. On the way to the top, we saw Naeposa – a facility acted as beacon informing impending danger for residents in the fortress and Mirohanjeong – a place to live retired life quietly.
Hwaseong Haenggung view from the hill-side of Mount Paldal
From the top, we went down and found another site near Haenggung. Based from our map guide, the area is called Hwaryeongjeon and this is where King Jeonjo portrait is enshrined by King Sunjo (son of King Jeonjo). In the vicinity we found different building where more information can be found. Jejeong is one of the royal well. Woonhangak used for morning assembly and enshrined of King Jeongjo. Iancheong where portrait of King Jeongjo was keep every time it was removed in the main building. Pungwadang Guest Residence used as a living quarters for a specialist for the rite.
Hwaryeongjeon (side view)
Iancheong (with corridor connected to Woonhangak)
Iancheong (front view)
Iancheong (side view)
Woonhangak and Iancheong
King Jeongjo in military uniform
A palanquin used to carry the portrait of King Jeongjo
(Shin-yeon – palanquin, Shin-baek – wooden sign representing a deceased king or queen)
Other side interior of Woonhangak
Hwaryeongjeon (from outside Naesamun view)
Then, we went back to Hwaseong Haenggung and continued our tour to the other parts of the temporary palace. We found Jangrakdang which beside Bongsudang. Hyegyeongjeong Hong stayed in the building. Here King Jeongjo celebrated the 60th birthday of her mother with the will to live with his mother after abdicating the crown to his son King Sunjo.
Some displays inside Jangrakdang and it’s interior
We went around behind Jangrakdang and Bongsudang. Here we found different servant’s quarters. Then, found Boknaedang where local officials’ family stayed. Bongnaedang Kitchen, where kitchen equipment in that period are displayed. Then, we moved along and found the display of different Korean dress used by Jang-geum in the historical drama (Jewel in the Palace). Then we found Angbuilgu which is a sundial and it was created in 1434.
Haenggak (Palace Servant’s Quarter)
Eunuch getting Ready for an outing
Korean dress used by Jang-geum in the historical drama (Jewel in the Palace)
Then, we moved to another area and we saw Yuyeotak. Here, King Jeongjo stayed here to interview his subjects during his honor visits. In the same area, I found interesting and familiar thing, it is the Rice Chest. It was familiar to me because I once saw it in the film of Yisan and Eight Days where the father of King Jeongjo, Crown Prince Sado were put to death by his grand father King Yeongjo.
We continued our walking tour to the next area and discovered Oejeongriso. This is where events in Hwaseong Haenggung were arranged during the King’s honored visit. Another vicinity area beside Oejeongriso is Bijangcheong which used by officials’ assistants. Next is Seoricheong which served as office of seori, clerks and petty officials who record, issue and received documents. Namgunyeong which is a government office and the 100 cavalry soldiers of the Royal Guard stood on guard.
While touring inside Haenggung, in every part of the temporary palace, there are visitors like us that they go to each area with paper and they put stamp on it. I just realized that we never did the same thing. Since we were waiting for the Martial arts performance show at the entrance gate, I request the paper for Tour stamp from the information center and I go around again quickly in Haenggung to look for all the station where the stamp is located and immediately put the stamp in the paper. Then I went to Experience Tour ticket to laminate the paper as my souvenir in the palace. Well, when I did that, I felt like I am a kid receiving a reward because I finished the tour inside Hwaseong Haenggung.
Most of the tourist went outside Haenggung and stayed near Sinpungnu (entrance gate) because all of us were waiting for the 24 Martial Arts Performance which scheduled to play twice a day. The martial arts to be displayed were from the Martial Arts book created by Silhak Scholars and Baek Dong Soo (master of martial arts – I watched the historical drama too) which ordered by King Jeongjo. These martial arts are from Joseon Dynasty, China and Japan. The performance started and I watched intently until the show was over, I enjoyed the whole show.
At Sinpungnu (Preparing for the Martial Arts Performance)
Snapshots from Martial Arts Performance
The continuation of the walking tour along Hwaseong Fortress will be describe in another post following this one. Until then.
One of the country that I dream to visit is South Korea. Main reason, I fall in love with their history through historical drama that I watched. I am not used to watch all Korean dramas, but if its historical, I definitely going to watch it. I can say that I am somewhat familiar with their history though I am aware that probably not all things shown in the dramas are all correct but at least some of the facts can be search online, especially people if they are real or imaginary character. These historical drama were aired as well in my country, and some seen online. I can sense that there is good relationship between my country and South Korea. One of the sign of this good relationship is the continuous visitation of the Korean actors/actress/artists in my country to either promote their albums or films.
When I came from Australia after my recent project assignment last May, there is at least two weeks left before our flight to South Korea. I booked the flight a year ago, without assurance that I will be able to visit this country. It was 1 peso sale in Cebu Pacific (one of the major budget airline in the Philippines), base fare is 3 pesos, but in reality the total airfare is not just that amount, it’s more than that.
I booked three tickets and I planned to go together with my mother and my youngest sister. And in less than two weeks, we don’t have yet the visa since I cannot apply it a bit earlier since I am not around in my country until I returned from Australia. I worked with all the paper requirements for the application of our visa and the three of us visited South Korea embassy, 5 days after I arrived in Manila. And we waited for a week for the result of our visa application. Our visa were approved released just two days before the scheduled flight which is very tight. Until we received our passport and visa, that’s the only time we were sure that we are really going to South Korea. I already accepted before, that the hotel and flight booking will be forfeited if our visa application was not approved. And we were lucky that everything went smoothly.
It was Friday (June 6, 2014), my mom, my sister and I were waiting at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), Terminal 3. At the time that we were boarding the plane, that made me realized that my dream will come true in a matter of few hours. I just thought about traveling South Korea, but never really planned it so well because of the concern regarding our visa. I am a citizen of the country with limited visa free entries to other countries. This is one of the main reason why my travel to other parts of the world are being limited.
After four hours of flight from Manila to Incheon, we finally arrived at Incheon International Airport. It was past 8 in the evening, we were not like other travelers that all things were arranged. The only thing we booked was our accommodation because we were not really sure if we will able to get a visa. After getting off the plane and passing the immigration area, I thought it still early, therefore, we tried to figure out how we were going to the hotel service apartment that I booked. After asking something at information center, we bought our transportation card called T-money card, this money card can only be topped up by cash (not sure if there is a way to top it online via credit card). We decided to take train to go to Seoul and the plan is to transfer to metro train in Seoul. After withdrawing some cash, we took the “All Stop Train” of AREX line (“Express Train” is the other type of train, which is non-stop, straight to Seoul but more expensive than the All Stop Train). We arrived at Seoul past 10:30 PM. Looking at the time, we hurriedly transferred to one of the Seoul Metro Subways which is Line 4 going to Oido. It’s past 11:30 PM, we got off at Chongshin University or Isu station, then we transferred to another line which is Line 7 going to Jangam. At this time, we never able to arrived at the right station where our hotel is just around because the train stopped its operation even before we reach the station we are intended to.
We stopped at Naebang station as the last stop which means the next train will be coming the next morning, 3 more stations to reached Non-hyeon where our hotel is almost near, we went out at Naebang station and tried to find a cab that will bring us in our accommodation for the next 9 days and it was past 12AM in the morning and we were still outside in a place that was foreign for us, quite adventure but risky as well. There are several cabs stopped but most of the driver rejected us, either they don’t understand the way I speak since I am asking them in English or they don’t really want us as their passenger. We waited until another cab stopped and agreed to drop us to the hotel. One disappointment on that situation was, the driver never helped us to fetch our luggage to put it in the trunk of the cab. While on our way to the hotel, the driver keep on checking and looking on the map and address that I have on my hand to make sure that he’s on the right track, I keep on talking to him in English but he usually smiled at me without other words to say, in that situation I understand that he does not really know how to speak English either.
At last we arrived at the hotel service apartment at Gangnam-gu and the name of the 4 star hotel is Inn the City Serviced Residence, Gangnam. The clerk at the lobby of the hotel accommodated us quickly, we went straight in our room after we got our key. My impression to our room is nice, it has two double bed and all the necessary appliances as expected were there. After few minutes of being familiar with the room, we knew it was really late like almost 2AM, we have a big day ahead of us for adventure and because of that we crawled in our bed and fallen asleep shortly.
I will tell stories of our adventures of each places that we visited in South Korea, most of the places were in Seoul and around Gyeonggi-do province. I enjoyed all of these places in our 8 days tours in this country, though I am aware there are more tourist destination to see and I promised myself that I will go back in this country.
Here are the places that we visited in South Korea.