10.06.2004

Biking in Yeouido


YouidoBikes
Originally uploaded by katevsnow.
On Sunday, Justin, Tracy, Claire and I rented bikes at Hangang Park along the riverside. Sunday is the day most Korean families come out to the riverfront, since it's the one day out of the week they don't work. I think on this Sunday every Korean in Seoul must have been in Hangang and Yeouido Park. On our bikes, we rode down the riverfront to see a friend play with the ex-pat Ultimate Frisbee club. We then headed to Yeouido Park, which used to be a landing strip but was converted later into a treeless cyclists park. In 1998 the monotonous asphalt was ripped up and the park was turned into a pseudo-ecological scenic park.
Yeouido park has a walking path and a two-way biking path, but I'm doubtful most Koreans know the rules, as they all seem to ride bikes just as fast and reckless as they drive cars. At one point the path was so crowded because of a crash ahead of us, we were all stopped. Then this small boy about four years old comes darting in between Claire and I at top speed on his bike (with training wheels) without a care in the world. This action clearly mimicks the motorbikers in traffic here. Later I was biking behind the same boy and retrived his pedal that had flew off during the course of his reckless biking.

10.04.2004

Kim Ki Youn Exhibition


InsadongCeremony
Originally uploaded by katevsnow.
On Saturday Justin and I headed to Insa-dong to go to a Man Ray exhibition, but ended up skipping it and finding an amazing drawing exhibition by a Korean artist named Kim Ki Youn. She does 4' tall ink line drawings of hands. They were truly breathtaking, and I don't use that word very often. I haven't drawn much since I've been here. Maybe it's the tremendous overload of visual stimulation in this city that makes it seem impossible to try and capture anything on paper. That could be why I've been photographing so much. In any case, the exhibition made me want to start drawing again. Maybe I just need a larger size piece of paper?
On our way out of the exhibition we suddenly heard loud drum sounds and chanting. I peered out a small window in the stairwell and caught a glimse of traditionally dressed Korean men and women carrying flags, chanting loudly and beating on drums.

10.03.2004

Suwon Chili Market


ChiliMarket
Originally uploaded by katevsnow.
At the base of the Suwon stream, we came across a small food market and decided to take a break from the fortress to look around. I noticed this small street full of chili peppers, in bags and laying out to dry on cloths. Justin pointed out a big pile of saffron next to one of the huge bags. The street was quite a sensory experience, from the vibrant red colors to the stinging smells coming from inside the stores.

Bell of Filial Peity


Bell of Filial Peity
Originally uploaded by katevsnow.
On the decent from the Seonodae is the Bell of Filial Piety, weighing 12.5 tons. While Justin and Kyle ring the bell here, I could feel the vibrations in the air taking the photo from more than ten feet away.

Hwahongmun


Hwahongmun
Originally uploaded by katevsnow.
This is Hwaseong's north water gate and the most popular attraction of the fortress. The stone bridge has seven arches and a one-story building that make up the water gate. Obviously the day we were there, the Suwon stream was a bit dry.

Bongdon


Bongdon
Originally uploaded by katevsnow.
Bongdon is one of my favorite structures along the fortress walls. It had the function of watching for enemies approaching the wall and rural palace. It signaled emergencies with light and smoke from its five fire pots. Two fire pots were used if an enemy had been spotted, three when the enemy approached the border line and four when the enemy invaded the line. In close battles, five pots were used.

Changryongmun


Changryongmun
Originally uploaded by katevsnow.
Changryongmun is the east gate of Hwaseong with a one-story building over the halfmoon type gate. This view is from an observory, showing the massive sprawl of Suwon just outside the fortress walls.
While I was walking around the bend to the observatory, I noticed a small unassuming 'DANGER' sign posted at the top of the grassy slope, where the fortress path was. I looked across the field to a building that somehow resembled a driving range. A couple seconds later, I saw an arrow fly into the hill fifteen feet below me!

Seonamamun


Lanterns1
Originally uploaded by katevsnow.
That night the six of us slept like sardines on yos in one room in a local 'love' motel. Mid-afternoon we finally got around to walking the fortress wall.
The Hwaseong Fortress and Rural Palace was built in 1794 around Suwon's Mt. Hwaseong. The half we chose to do first was the mountian ascent, climbing steps so steep you couldn't see where it was leading. The fortress was built with the most modern functions in terms of combating enemies approaching the walls. There are many secret gates, like Seonamamun, which lead to a secret passageway used specifically in war time.