So we spent a hot muggy Saturday wandering around the old walls and grounds of the Gongsanseong fortress. It was really fun. This is a place Zoe and I went too last time we lived in Korea, but Bryan (and Avi, of course) never made it. Gongju is about an hour and a half south of us up in a very mountaineous part of Korea. It’s beautiful, really. The drive down was fine. We hit traffic on the freeway which is standard here. On the way back we, instead, took the surface streets and it took the same time, but was MUCH much prettier.
Anyway, we got to Gongju around lunchtime and went to the restaurant across the street before walking up into the fortress. We took our shoes off at the raised floor and were pointed to a table in the corner – good for us to contain the kids. This was a traditional Korean restaurant with low tables on the floor, little mats to sit on, and lots of side dishes! We ordered the duck special…there were pictures of the food and some items listed in English, and this was a cheap option. The side dishes started rolling in – maybe 15? All kinds of kimchis, dried fish, noodle, chestnut jelly, soups, greens, veggies, and other unidentifiable but mostly tasty items. The server also crammed a little hot plate on our table and cut up our portion of duck and greens onto it. We added the garlic and peppers from our side dish to crisp them up, and dug in. The kids mostly ate their bap (rice) at first. Bryan and I loaded our lettuce leaf wraps up with duck, garlic, sauces, and kimchi. Then Avi tried the duck. He LOVED it and ate more than me. He also ate some of the dried fish. Zoe was being finicky, but did eat some noodles, tofu from a soup, and tried each kind of lettuce. When we were all full, and the weather had reached it’s heated humid maximum we paid ($20) and crossed the street to Gongsanseong.
It costs W1000 per adult – so about $1. Cheap! Of course the kids needed a snack so Avi got completely sticky challenging an ice cream cone not to melt, while Zoe devoured a cup of cotton candy. We took a leisurely kid-pace walk up the hill to the entry gate and then started the fortress wall loop around the counter-clockwise direction. This is the way to do it since it gets super steap around the other side. Avi liked walking along the wall pretending to be a choo train, and Zoe followed along. It was quite pleasant when the breeze blew. The fortress wall is high on a hill. The area is set aside as a park, so there are lots of trees and also neato old pavillions and archeological markers from ancient Beakje Korean culture in the 400’s and even earlier … like B.C. stuff, too! Everything has a great historical plate in both Korean and English, so it’s fun to get into the history and pretend we are ancient peoples living high on the hill and trading with China. Once reaching a high point we stopped for a water break and then took to the inside of the fortress near more archeological sites. It was hot, still, and muggy without the breeze.
Once we met back at the very top of the hill, near the a huge pavillion – site of the ancient palace – it was breezy once again. Zoe loved looking around for broken pottery and found quite a bit. Ancient? likely not…. likely just from old roof tiles, but still cool. Avi liked riding Bryan’s shoulders, or throwing rocks and running around in the pavlion. We continued our walk on the fortress wall down the river- side of the fortress. The whole wall-walk is 2.7km long, and the river-side of it is super steep with log-steps built and a rope railing to help. Both Zoe and Avi enjoyed jumping down each step, making the walk down very slow but enjoyable. The view of the river is nice and the breeze and shade kept my sweaty body cool-ish. At the bottom of the big hill, we again ventured inside the fortress grounds to the local Buddhist temple and then walked out. It was a great, HOT, afternoon. And we all deserved our tasty cold sugary soda-machine drinks at the end.
From there we drove back home via Magoksa (Magok Temple), but the kids were asleep when we arrived. oh well. Bryan and I instead took the long way home and found some pretty cool spots for camping and tubing down the river. Maybe we can tackle those next week.
At home we have been trying to get by without our stuff. The shipment is still delayed and its tough to get motivated. Not really much to do in the house, I guess. We play at the playground, swim at the pool, shop, plant stuff in our balcony pots, and go for evening bike rides off base. Missing a backyard.