The other week I went down to Suwon 수원 to see the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress 수원화성. It's an old fortress that was built by King Jeongjo to try and move the capital of his kingdom away from Seoul. There's more of a back story to it, but I'm not gonna get into that. If you really care more then you can look it up on Wikipedia or something.
The fortress walls outlines the city of Suwon. You'd think there would be only an ancient village inside there, but no it's just regular city that happens to be surrounded by 200 year old fortress walls.
I walked pretty much the whole outline of the fortress which is about 5-6 KM. There are several entrances into the fortress walls. Some where you have to pay and other parts where you don't. Well actually they have little checkpoint ticket booths along the wall where you are supposed to show if you bought a ticket or not. They're only 1,000 Won which is less than a dollar, but it's so easy to simply walk into any part of the fortress without paying. It's so dam big that they can't watch every part. Also I don't think they care enough to do it. The money you pay to enter is more of a donation anyways to help the maintenance of the place anyways so whatever.
Inside the city and fortress walls there is the small palace structure that the king built for his stay there. Walking around was cool, but honestly it wasn't that impressive. It's quite small compared to other palaces and there's really not much to see. People tend to over glamorize the things they see or do in Korea. I'll be real with you. Had I been around 10 years old walking around all day in that dam thing I would've been pissed off and said this is the most stupid place I've been to. But since I've been around a quarter century I tend to see it a little different. It wasn't that spectacular like I had read in some peoples posts and online in the websites. It's a fucking giant fortress wall that has some cool gate structures here and there, with a pretty small palace structure thing inside of it surrounded by modern city with traffic, people, and buildings.
One cool thing was seeing a demonstration of the 24 Martial Arts that the King's guards used to practice.
Since I've been training in Martial Arts basically my entire life I said well I need to go see this. It was enjoyable to watch how the old guards would have trained and fought using different techniques.
The past Sunday I visited the Korean National Cemetery 국립서울현충원 where all those who have served in war are laid to rest. My grandfather having fought and died in the Korean war is there as well. So I went to pay my respect to him along with a few other family members. I won't share the photo of where my grandfather is located as that stuff is private and not for you!
The following day I went to the National Palace of Korea Gyeongbokgung 경복궁 in Seoul. Now this place I will admit was impressive and large and grand and most importantly...filled with tons of Chinese tour groups with a flag carrying, megaphone wielding tour guide.
This palace is quite grand and spectacular. They've done a lot of restoration to many of the structures and they look very well kept. This is located in the heart of downtown Seoul and is actually in front of the Blue House - the presidential residence of Korea.
It took a while to walk around the entire palace and by the end of it my feet were done. It was at that point I wished I get one of those super cheap foot massages in Thailand...but that'll have to wait.
These past weeks here have been incredibly chill. I'm in no rush to go anywhere or to do anything. Basically everyday is like Saturday. Which is the name of a cool backpacking documentary that I suggest people watch if they're interested in backpacking.
However, since I'm staying here with family I get to hear all these crazy theories and stories that my grandmother has to say whether she thinks I care or not. For example how she thinks that the government might be taken over my the communists soon. That's a daily one. How I need to return to the US and make a lot of money and stop wasting my time. I've told her on many accounts of what I'm doing right now. She doesn't listen to me AT ALL. I know that the era she grew up in was very different than the age now and especially since I grew up in a completely different country at that. She seems to have a disillusioned since of the world due to Korean Media. That's her total view of the outside world. She's too old now to see how it really is unfortunately and too strict in her mind to change that set of rules. So for that I simply laugh and say, "Sure granny."