4 Dec 2011

Gwangju and Jeonju

3rd until 4 December 2011

Today I planned my last week of travel, and I needed to make the decision Gwangju - Jeonju or Gwangju - Mokpo. I decided for the first option, as one of my favourite dishes in Korea had been Bibimbap - so I shall try the real dish (from the origin). I had the guide book of food which dishes you shall try in S Korea, and where. I have nearly the full list full. Only a few are just missing, such as Chuncheon chicken. 

I normally do not plan well on which attraction to visit when I travel - and therefore I had little expectation on what to see in Gwangju. I thought the visit will consist of visiting a park, mountains and temple. It turn out totally different. When I arrived at the bus terminal, the tourism office told me I shall visit the "sad story" of Korean history. The Gwangju uprising and follow the road of May 18 from the top of the city to the bottom. 

I did not knew what to expect so I token the bus 518 (May 18) to the top of the city. It was a long journey, at least an hour we had been on the bus, which has pass all the sights which had token place on this day and week. The journey then started backwards from the monument and cementary. I had the opportunity to watch a small documentary which has given me great background of what has occurred in this city. Afterwards they given me a guided tour through the museum and the cementary field. The tour was conducted by who was living just outside the city.

I did not stay to long, and token the bus back into town and gone off at the old roundabout which nowadays is not real visible due all the construction been put in place. Token me a while to recognize it from the archive pictures. I walk then around this part of town where the two universities are located and nowadays a place is for young people.  After lunch I decided to go and see the museum of Gwangju, but it was more a generic museum of general knowledge. 

The last point I wanted to see is the monument of the High School, whom also had participated in the uprising of Gwangju and of course I shall try some traditional food in Gwangju which is duck. Unfortunally no restaurant wanted to serve me duck, as the dish is for minimum two people only and the cost was also very high starting at 25,000 to 40,000 Won ($25-40). So I just looked for a simple restaurant and ate generic meal, before heading to the bus terminal to continue my one hour journey to Jeonju.

If you like to know more about this event, I recommend you to watch May 18 (2007). Here is a preview:

Let know arrive into a town which never moved away from more then hundred years ago. The majority of the town is still a village.

First I was finding my new friend, with whom I will stay for the night and then explore the town all day long before catching the bus back to Daegu.

In the next morning I made my way to the village which is in the city heart and then I started to explore it. My friend also shown me on his map which other areas I can visit, as they have funny streets name example "The street desired to walk".

I had found the tourism agent first before starting the walk - they given me a map and a recommend walk. First I shall go up the small hill and may see the entire village from the top and then walk around the streets and visit few of the places from the inside. The most interesting thing in this village is that on the premises is a church. I did not been to all villages in Korea, but I predict this is the only one with a church in a traditional Korean village. This village is very nice to walk around, but its more a tourism village, I don't believe many local people stay here. On the other side you can experience a bit of Korean culture, I was lucky enough to experience a traditional Korean wedding. I am still unsure if it was real or fake. As it was organised very well in the backyard of a house which I joined and watch the processes. I guess I was very lucky, as I just had been walking around and only heard some music playing.

After the ceremony I decided to go also for lunch as the guest did. I gone back to the tourism agent spot, to ask which of this restaurant serves the best Bibimbap. There had been three restaurants who do it the best and of course they had been on air either SBS or MBC. I found the restaurant and sat down on one of the empty tables and order Jeonju Bibimbap. It was really delicious.  I can just never take a picture of Bibimbap when its get served, I am just to slow, therefore always mixed. If I dont mix it quick enough, either the rice will stick to the bottom and burn or the egg will be not fried (as its raw egg). I just was also amazed by the side dishes been given to the meal.  It is really worth coming to Jeonju for some food and experience a living village from tourism perspective.

I had later a walk around the new part of town before returning back to Daegu with the great experience I had collected while being here in Gwangju and Jeonju.

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