As a fan of historical places, I decided to check out the historical fortress at Suwon, a large city between Seoul and Pyeongtaek. After buying tickets for my trip to Seoul tomorrow, I boarded the “subway” for Suwon. I didn’t manage to get a seat, but it was an express train so I didn’t have to stand for as long as I would have on the regular train.
After arriving at Suwon station, I found the bus area and hopped on a bus. I got off by a large traditional building next to a stone wall.
I found an information center where I got a map of the fortress. It turned out it isn’t in one single place like Osaka Castle, but is rather a long wall dotted with outposts. I walked up to the wall and walked along it for a while, passing some guard towers.
I came to one of the main gates, which was flanked by two cannon platforms. I went to buy a ticket and was informed that entry was free for today (part of a 12 day period).
After exploring the gate, I set of in search of the palace, which my mother had mentioned to me. I found it but as I’d had no breakfast, I was pretty hungry. I found a small restaurant down one of the side streets and ordered some beef and rice soup. The rice arrived separately, and I put it into the soup, which was good.
After lunch, I headed back to the palace.
It was amazing! There were a lot of life size wax figures in some of the rooms, depicting people from the Joseon Dynasty.
I came out to the main gate, and there were a bunch of people gathered around the front gate. A group of performers were reenacting Joseon Dynasty guard rituals dressed in historic garb!
Afterwards, I headed up the hill to see the giant golden Buddha, which was visible from the bottom.
The climb up the hill was tough, but it was worth it when I got to the top, with the golden Buddha towering into the air above me!
I was informed that this was an image of Shakyamuni Buddha, the historical Buddha who lived 2,500 years ago. Below the statue was a small shrine with a similar looking statue.
To the left of the Golden Buddha was the main temple. Unlike most Korean temples, this one had a few chairs at the back. I got a book, sat down and did my best to chant the Kwan Eum Gyeong (Guan Yin Sutra) in Korean.
After coming down from the mountain, I got a hot chocolate at a nearby café. I then went to Paldalmun, one of the main gates of the fortress. It was in the middle of a traffic roundabout and not attached to any wall.
While walking down a nearby street, I noticed some traditional architecture and checked my map app, and sure enough, it was a temple! It was named Paldalsa. I went and sat in the main hall, and at 6pm a monk came and began a service. Part way through he began chanting from a tablet instead of a book, and the chanting got quicker, as did the beating of the moktak (wooden percussion instrument). I left before he finished, and got some dinner at Burger King.
I got a bus back to Suwon station, and eventually made my way to LotteMart, nestled within the Lotte Department Store and Lotte Mall, both of which sell high-end fashion clothes (I couldn’t figure out where one ended and the other began). I was looking for a power board with an automatic cutoff switch, and an extension cord for the air conditioner. I found the first one, but had absolutely no luck with the extension cord. All the extension cords had at least two sockets to one plug, so they were essentially power boards with long cords.
I headed back to the station and just missed a train heading south. But it worked out for the best because the next train was another express train! I got a seat this time as well, and began writing this blog post. I took a bus home and did some dishes. I put a post on reddit asking where I can buy an extension cord in Seoul. Hopefully someone will let me know so that I can pick one up tomorrow.