Salut tout le monde,
Another post from the same city of Sacheon, at the very south of South-Korea. This post may have no structure whatsoever as I have simultaneously no and too many ideas at the same time…if that makes sense.
So after a very sunny last week-end, we definitely entered the rainy season in here (see video hereafter) – every second day looks like a typhoon is hitting us with continuous hours of heavy rains and a constant 95% humidity. Not very pleasant – luckily the air-conditioning is massively used but mostly to dry the air, completely exhausting when running after the first kilometer (and a soaking sweaty t-shirt).
Work is going well, I may write something about working in Korea later. Sacheon does not have much to offer, it is a 100.000 people “town” mostly focusing on the industry: shipyards segment manufacturers and the aerospace manufacturer KAI with its suppliers around. The company I work at is directly on the coast, and the offices have view on the sea, in some sort of Fjord which would be a dream location in the Mditerranean sea. However, South-Korea is not necessarily very interested in tourism and there are a lot more chance to have chemicals tankers around than dingies.
It seems that I was the first to look at local history when I went on a hill a few kilometers behing the factory to find the remains of a japanese castle last wednesday evening, as almost none of the employees were aware of that. Not breathtaking, but it was interesting to see that historical remain of a very important part of Korean history.
Sacheon was the landing area of Japanese forces who tried to conquer Korea in the 16th century – Korea won the battle and later the war after massive losses, an influence of China (who helped Korea), the beginning of Japanese imperialism theories, the beginning of nationalism in eastern Asia (and future war associated), and partially the resulting complete isolationism of Korea for almost the next 4 centuries (basically until WW2 and again the japanese).
Back to my castle, I walked on a path with almost no signs to the top of the hill to find the remaining walls – I can imagine this to be an important tourist attraction in France with souvenir shops and parking places around, but here it seens to be considered more like big walls around the cherry trees!
Apparently, the international customers of the company in Korea are mostly interested in either drinking, gambling, partying or harlotry and other feminine comforting – apparently, they managers know very well where to bring their visitors depending on their nationality. And they 1/ do not know what to do with my mysterious origin, 2/ are amused and surprised every time I am taking out the lonely-planet! What is sure is that nobody had ever asked them about the japanese castle before! Game: associate the above customer-locations with nationalities (aerospace related)…
I enjoyed the fact of have a rental car to travel this week-end to the Haeinsa temple on saturday (another one of the three “jewels of korean buddhism” – see previous post), with the largest and best preserved collection of buddhism scripts (I did not get what that was, but something like a very very old buddhism-thorah that is very precious and very well protected – and because it is sculpted on wooden tablets, it needs 80.000+ tablets on giant shelves stored in a very large and old building). As you may understand from the writting, I do not know much about Buddhism…and because nothing is translated, I am not fixing those knowledge gaps. But the temples are very peacefull, well maintained and nicely decorated, few visitors, the monks and the music create a mystic atmosphere so some nice visits. And because they are never close to a road, it is usually a short pleasant hike in the mountains.
Plus this saturday, by the end of my visit, leaving a temple, a monk made me sign something, gave me some kind of blessing on the head before offering me a book (in Korean!) about Buddha. So I may actually well have turned into Buddist Lama 🙂 And that probably means I am allowed to buy a giant Gong in Augsburg, Cassie?
I continued my way towards Gyeongju in the afternoon, and a storm oriented me to the “national history museum”. Gyeongju was the capital of Korea during over a thousand years until the 14th century and lots of archeological remains are around the city. Gyeongju is also “the tourism” city of Koreans: the usual week-end cultural trip, therefore a lot more tourists. The rain also brought all those people to the museum, and for the first time in two weeks: some westerners – well, actually somes buses of US-Marines based in Korea visiting the country during their 4th of July cultural prolonged week-end.
I had not planned any accomodation thinking that I would always find a cheap motel somewhere, and at worse sleep in the car (which might be funny after a few hours, with both the 95% of humidity and the breathing!). I went to a hotel, knowing that it would probably be out of range, to then ask for advise – the owner asks immediately its neighbor if I can sleep at his place (homestay), the neighbor feels very sorry and thus calls a friend. That works! I get a room in a traditional home for 11€/night including breakfast in total 5 min, right in the historical center. Next day, visit of the Tumulis (some grass-pyramidal-royal-tombs), later the Bulguksa temple (also on the Unesco list), the Cheomseongdae observatory (oldest surviving observatory in the world) and the particularly impressive carved in a grotto at Seokguram. A stop at a handicraft market before heading back to Sacheon – 3h of over water-driving under a storm.
Next post tomorrow (hopefully) about culture-shoch, food and working in South-Korea