For budget, travel info, culture, see Itinerary Part 1.
For Seoul Itinerary Days 1-3, and Days 12-14, see Parts 2 & 8 respectively.
For Andong Itinerary Day 4, see Part 3.
For Gyeongju Itinerary Day 5, see Part 4.
For Busan itinerary Days 6-8, see Part 5.
For Jeju Island Days 9-10, see Part 6.
For Haeinsa at Gayasan National Park Day 11, see Part 7.
South Korea Itinerary Day 4: Andong
You can take a train or a bus but the Seoulites (?) Seoulians? advised me to take the bus, which took about 3 hours. If you take the 6am bus, you’ll reach Andong by 9am and can spend the morning at Pungsan Hanji Factory, making paper out of mulberry bark, a painstaking process that hasn’t changed since ancient times.
Andong Mask Museum: Stop making fun of my big nose, Huccalily. Big nose in Korean masks denotes wisdom.
But I didn’t. I took the 9am bus and reached Andong bus terminal at noon and went straight to Hahoe Maeul folk village, arriving at 1pm. The bus will drop you at the entrance of the village where the Andong Mask Museum is. Only half a floor of the museum features Korean masks, while the other 1.5 floors, masks from other countries. But if you skip it, you won’t understand the mask dance and drama performance later. Dilemma, dilemma.
The original N95 mask, 300 years ago.
When you reach the entrance, there are a few restaurants here. Lunch. I guess any restaurant will go but I went to the most crowded one, beside the pavilion. Andong is famous for jjimbak (steamed chicken). Since I was alone and couldn’t eat that much, I opted for kohng gooksu (pictured above) or cold noodles in soya bean broth in the hot weather. It was strange, like noodles in Vitasoy.
A hunter offered the audience the bull’s balls he just castrated, bull lying in the background.
Risque humor: the lecherous monk and whore
Burlesque humor: The Jester and the Drunkard
By 2pm, walk to the Hahoe Village Management Office (T: +82 54 854 3669) for the free hour-long mask dance-and-drama performance (Mar-Dec, every Wed, Sat & Sun; Apr-Aug, every Wed, Fri-Sun). I enjoyed the performance very much even though it was in Korean. But the masks and the actions were quite universal, with archetypes of drunkard, prostitute, officials, jester, etc.
After the performance, walk around the 600 year-old Hahoe Village (pictured above), a UNESCO site. Ha=river=河, hoe=turn=回, so “hahoe village” is the village where the river turns. This river is just before the formation of oxbow lake. People still live here so be respectful of their houses. After exploring the village, you can travel at night and move on to the next city or do a homestay at the village.
One of the most important buildings in Hahoe Folk Village, Bukchondaek (or simply Bukchon) is available for homestay. The bar at the entrance keeps tourist out but if you’ve reservations, walk in boldly.
I chose a homestay at the village at the 300 year-old building, Bukchon, a landmark of the village. IT WAS AMAZING. One of the BEST EXPERIENCES in KOREA. The Bukchondaek House (북촌댁 – 안동하회마을 Address: 706, Hahoe-ri, Pungcheon-myeon, Andong-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, 경북 안동시 풍천면 하회리 706번지 T: +82-54-853-2110, +82-10-2228-1786) was built by Ryu Sa-chun, one of the most important people in the village then. Now Ryu’s descendants are magistrates and ministers. The owner himself is a retired director of GM motors.Tourists crowded outside the house to glimpse the inside, and I walked in boldly. I felt so privileged and fortunate.
Bukchon has outer buildings (traditionally for men), surrounding inner buildings (traditionally for women). The biggest outer building is the Grandfather’s Room (pictured above). Many prime ministers and ambassadors, who visited Andong, stayed in this room.+82-54-853-2110, +82-10-2228-1786
If you’re lucky, the owner will open up the Grandfather’s Room for you to view. He even offered to take a photo of me in the Grandfather’s Room. Again, many political leaders have sat in the same seat as I had.
A view from the window of the Grandfather’s Room. This 300-year-old tree has great significance as it winds like the Hahoe River.
The Inner Building where the women stayed. Now it’s used as guestrooms.
The living room of the Inner Building. Note how small the door (on the left) is. I had to bend down to enter a room.
A small, spartan but adequate room. This is the Grandmother’s Room where I was put up.
A view from my room.
Just beside the living room is the now defunct kitchen.
Koreans do not differentiate between meals, so they eat rice for all meals. Bukchon provided my dinner (1st photo) and breakfast and they were out of this world. Although I didn’t cried like when I ate the Suwon Galbi or Namdaemun’s Oxtail Soup, the homecooked food evoked much emotions in me, reminded me of bliss, love and a warm home. Later, I found out that an old granny cooked it. Her food transmits her emotions – how beautiful.
Remember this is a traditional house, so no air-con, no tv. But all other conveniences are present, electricity, etc. There is no restaurant in the village, so if you want to cater dinner, add another ₩20K. Breakfast is provided. One night stay is ₩100K. Email the owner to book: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The night is long, so bring a book to read or card games to play.
How to Get to Andong
1. Trains: Take the Jung-ang line from Seoul station (limited frequency) or from Cheongnyangni Station in Seoul (about 7 trains daily).
2. Bus: Take express bus from Seoul’s Express Bus Terminal Station. This is the best option.
How to Get to Pungsan Hanji Factory
Best to take taxi. Address: 36-1 Sosan-li, Pungsan-eup, Andong-si. T: +82-54-858-7007. 10am-6pm.
How to Get to Hahoe Folk Village
Bus #3 or #46 from Andong Bus Terminal. (If you take express bus from Seoul, the bus reaches this terminal directly.)
Address: 690 Hahoe-li, Pungcheon-myeon, Andong-si. T: +82-54-841-2896. 9am-6pm. Admission free: ₩1K (adults); ₩800 (youths); ₩300 (child); free for under 6 or above 65.
To be continued…
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.