30 May 2012

Seoul Fortress Wall of Bugaksan

This was my first time hiking in Korea. I always admire Korean mountains from a far, but never actually climbed it (if you don't consider walking up to Namsan Tower for 20 minutes is a hiking :P). I will start with the easiest one first, until later I will (hopefully have a chance to) hike in Seoraksan or Hallasan.

Bugaksan is a mountain located on the back side of Gyeongbokgung and Cheongwadae (Blue House: president's house), and one of the mountains that passed by Seoggwak Pass or Seoul Fortress Wall, along with Inwangsan, Namsan and Naksan. So, it is special because you can walk the trail with the ancient Fortress Wall, and you can see the amazing view of Gyeongbokgung, Gwanghwamun and Namsan Tower.

Seoul Fortress Wall was constructed during King Taejo's ruling period, after he built Gyeongbokgung and Jongmyo, and had been always maintained by the kings after him. This wall surrounds the capital area, Jongmyo, and all royal palaces: Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, Gyeonghuigung. It has 4 main large gates (Sadaemun) located in the north, south, east and west: Sukjeongmun, Sungnyemun (also called Namdaemun), Heunginjimun (also called Dongdaemun), Donuimun. Between them, 4 small gates (Sasomun) are situated: Changuimun, Souimun, Gwanghuimun, Hyehwamun.

Now, even though some of the walls are missing, but the gates are still there. We can walk circling Fortress Wall, passing all 4 mountains and all 8 gates.

23 May 2012

MBC Dramia

MBC Dramia is a shooting set made by MBC for their historical/sageuk dramas such as Jewel in the Palace, Queen Seondok, Jumong, Isan, Dong Yi. At first I thought the place name was typo, instead of Dramia it should be Drama. But no, the name combines Drama and Utopia words. I've been dreaming to visit this place since I fell in love with Korean drama Moon Embracing The Sun, because it is also one of shooting locations of that movie. Finally I got a friend to travel together to that place.

We took bus 8.30 from Nambu Bus Terminal. You can buy the ticket directly with the lady in ticket box, or using automatic machine, or tap your T-Money card when you aboard the bus. There is no seat number in the ticket, so you can sit wherever you like (available). The fare to Baekam Terminal was 4,200 KRW, and it took about 1 hour to get there. Show your ticket or tell the bus driver in advanced that you're going to Baekam terminal, or listen carefully the announcement in the bus.

Don't expect Baekam Terminal would be big, you would be dropped off on the street (and the bus would continue its trip to somewhere else). According to the website, you can take city bus 35-1 from Baegam Terminal, but I and my friend took a taxi today. It cost about 7,000 KRW. The location of MBC Dramia was really isolated, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by forest, fields, and mountains. Well, it's a perfect location for filming historical drama.

We really amazed on how they made all these props for drama. They have replica of scholar's house, folk village, old market, royal palace, temple, fighting arena... so complete and detail! They sure spent a lot of money in making this, but look at those drama they created, all became big and famous drama and reach oversea audience. They're really serious on making their drama, not like Indonesian Sinetron.

Fighting scene in Moon Embracing The Sun where Prince Yang Myung died. It looks really similar with Geunjeongjeon in Gyeongbokgung

In this site, you can also try Korean traditional clothing, each 20,000 KRW. Quite expensive tho (especially if you compare with free Hanbok services in Myeongdong and Gyeongbokgung), but their clothes are the ones from the drama. You can wear the exactly same cloth that Queen Seon-deok or Misil used in the series.

There were not so many explanation about Moon Embracing The Sun drama in this place, maybe because it's a recent drama. I couldn't find King's Quarter, where the King sleeping. There were many important scenes around the King's residence, I'd really love to see it. But I was already happy to see this!

I love the moving character boards!

Silver Moon Building, where Yeon Woo stayed after becoming Crown Princess

Some pictures inside MBC Dramia

The entrance ticket 7,000 KRW for this place is totally worth it, especially for a sageuk lover like me. Happy!

17 May 2012

Hadong Green Tea Festival

Do you know Kongbubang? It's a community in Seoul that offers free Korean language classes. For more info, you can see in their website and facebook group page. I never came to their classes again since last year, but they still posted me about new classes and... field trip!

I love field trip. Recently they had a free trip to Hadong Green Tea Festival (one of Spring festivals in Korea), only 35 people or something, and I managed to register myself and my friend. Hadong was located in Gyeongsangnam-do. Do you know where it is? It is far.

Our meeting point was in Seoul Sports Complex subway station. We met a lot of new friends there. Most of the participants were foreigner, only Songsaenims (teachers) are Korean. Some people were not new for me.

We arrived in Hadong around 1.30 PM (5 hours journey!). We had 30 minutes to have lunch. We heard the famous food for green tea was Nokcha Mul Naengmyeon (green tea cold noodle), but we couldn't find it there. Everywhere only selling Bibimbap. The recommended one was Sanchae Bibimbap (vegetable Bibimbap, without any meat), and it's the cheapest food in any restaurant, so we ordered that one.

After lunch, we gathered in one place to experience roasting green tea leaves. We split into 3-4 groups, each group circled one table. The guy explained it in Hangugeo (Korean language), but then our Songsaenim translated it to English. We wore farm clothes, and learnt how to mix the leaves inside hot oven, then colded it on the table.