Monday, 18 August 2014

월미도3 | Wolmido Again Again


As a slightly more relaxing comedown for Nick's parents (having just come off a long haul flight, then up early for a pretty intense tour), we thought we'd visit Wolmido one more time. We'd been told to expect bad weather as the beginnings of a hurricane, or possibly the tail end of one from further afield, so we didn't want to go too far and risk getting stranded.
Wolmido's actually big enough and varied enough that this was our third visit and we still managed to find new things to do. We decided to go to the mini hanok recreation and potter around.

We were pulled in by some of the staff there, and encouraged to take part in a little arts and crafts session. Nick made a little spinning top while we made...some kind of cute decorated stick? I didn't really understand what the lady helping us was telling me. I thought my ears were failing me but I do believe we ended up making bejazzled...ear cleaning sticks?

I think I'll just wear them as hair decorations. They're cute and pink with bells on.

Anyway, this place is great for a little concentrated dose of South Korea's architectural history. They've recreated buildings from the northern and southern areas, for both the rich and the poor. They're fairly similar in style but there are subtle differences in layout and size, and there's some really great examples of how they were carefully designed to ensure coolness in the hot summer, but warmth in the freezing winters.


One thing I find interesting is that the living room almost always has only 3 walls, and is open to the outdoors on one side. With the exception of the palaces, where they could afford a screen that could fold down from the ceiling in the winter to offer some extra protection.

There's also a great cutaway example of how the ondol, traditional underfloor heating, worked in the days before gas and electricity. It's similar to the way the Greeks and Romans did it, with pipes working their way under the house (another reason for the raised structure). The pipes connect to the house fireplace on one end, usually in the kitchen for cooking with. Rather than waste all that heat straight up and out, the chimney basically extends under the entire house before emerging out of the opposite side. Mm. Nice warm floors to lie on!

We played tuho, a traditional game like a cross between darts and hoopla, where you have a handful of arrow-like sticks, stand behind a line, then throw them into a narrow container (think of an umbrella stand). I was terrible at it, haha.



When we reached the family shrine, the heavens opened and I wasted some time trying to get a photo whilst waiting for it to ease up a little. I really like the example farmhouse, because there are actually people that come here and grow vegetables in the yard. There's a little rice paddy and a garden full of leafy vegetables and all kinds of roots. There's also a well with a traditional (albeit holey) bucket that you can lower in and pull out. All I can say is that I don't really envy the water gatherers back then.

We continued up and around, and found a sort of nature trail that promised us a wonderful view at the top of about 500 steps. So much for a relaxing second day, then.




In fairness, the view was very nice, and the fresh air was very good.
After this I blew on it to see if it would move and it turned its head to stare at me. "Excuse you?!"
We wound our way back down the mountain to the waterfront area, and found a glorious array of what I can only assume were "google translate accidents". That, or the owners of this row of restaurants have a very interesting sense of humour.

In case it's too small, that's "Let's not to pay Restaurant" and "Do not move! Restaurant"
I'm not even sure what they were trying to achieve here.

This one is my favourite.
We came across some guys playing Rock, Paper, Scissors where the punishment for the loser wasn't the customary slap on the hands. It was "run through this giant fountain spout". Very entertaining.


We got to the fountain show just in time to see it start, and Nick went up on the little bridge for a better view. Poor decision.


Throughout the day there had been spots of rain, but it got to a point where we couldn't tell if we were getting wet from the fountain or the rain. And then it got heavy enough that we realised it was in fact rain.



So, braving the elements (having forgotten to bring umbrellas and only nabbing two raincoats) we made the long walk to Chinatown to have some famous jjajangmyeon, a Chinese/Korean version of pork in black bean sauce with noodles. It was pretty delicious, especially compared to the rather uninspiring bowls we'd had elsewhere.

Bonus point, the signs everywhere seemed to be trying to tell us that EXO had visited this restaurant at some point. There was a news video of them eating and laughing, playing on loop on a TV nearby, and a big signed plaque on the wall beneath it. They seemed to play exclusively EXO-M, and the sign outside also proclaimed this to be their restaurant of choice.




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