Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hammy's 2005 Trip To Korea And Japan - Dec 1st

Young-in made a nice breakfast. She paid for tea last night when we tried really hard to not let her. Honestly. About 10am we caught the subway to Cheonan. Only 2200 Won each and it is way out in the country - well, it's the terminus. Didn't arrive until after 12pm.

A union protesting for casual workers' rights in Cheonan.

Had lunch and then caught a bus to the Korea Independence Hall. What a place. Admission was only 2000 Won and it was almost deserted. Everything was done on a huge scale. The Entrance Gate is absolutely massive.

The huge gate at the Independence Hall of Korea, Cheonan.

Puts the size of the gate into perspective.

Big statue inside the gate.

At the entrance I asked for an English guide map. As I was photographing the statue at the front I heard some clip-clop, clip-clopping. It was the info girl running towards me. She must have some important info for me I thought. She had some writings that she was translating into English and needed some help with the English bit. So, I've done my bit for Korean independence.

Hall No. 1 - The Hall of the National Hermitage. Heaps of info concerning 5000 years of invasions, civil wars, pottery, repelling of Japanese by Admiral Yi Sun-Shin. I asked a guard if I could take photos and he said ok.

Model of 80m high wooden pagoda that was built in the 6th to 7th century. Can't imagine how magnificent an achievement that was.

Yi-Sun-shin's invention, the Keobuksan - 거북산 - Turtle boat. You can see cannons, holes for archers to shoot through, and the plated roof with spikes to prevent boarding. There was also a dragon's head that breathed fire and plenty of oars for quick manoeuvreing.

Yi Sun-shin's 197.5cm sword. The pen is not mightier than this sword.

Hall No. 2 - The Hall of the Nationalist Movement. It details the forfeiture of national sovereignty to the Japanese and how they went about it from the unfair treaty that was signed in 1876 up to the annexation in 1910. I had no idea that Korea was occupied for such a long time.

Hall No. 3 - The Hall of the Japanese Aggression. Skip to Hall No. 4 if you are squeamish. This included torture conducted upon Koreans including; being walled up in a police station until they informed on others, leg-screwing, being placed inside a box of nails, being suspended with arms tied behind back with a rifle in between to suspend you from the ceiling and getting beaten, some water torture whereby they had to drink and drink, etc. Quite horrible really. Miky didn't want to see and Yu-Jin wasn't allowed to. Can't argue with fact - shame on the Japanese.

Hall No. 4 - The Hall of the March First Independence Movement. Even though the Korean identity was suppressed with the people changing their names to Japanese, the Korean language was outlawed, and the land was taken away from the Koreans who became virtual slaves, they were/are a resilient people. I'm amazed that the Korean resistance was strong enough to organise a nationwide march for independence which went from 1/3-30/4/1919 and went worldwide. It came about because the Japanese secreted away much rice due to crop failure in Japan which made the price skyrocket in Korea so that people couldn't afford it.

Hall No. 5 - The Hall of the Independence War. It outlines the formation of the Independence Army which mainly fought the Japanese in Siberia and Manchuria and the heroes who took part in guerilla warfare with the most famous being Ahn Jeung-gwon who cut off a knuckle from two fingers to write a declaration in his own blood and leave an imprint of his hand as well. Stirring stuff. Ahn assassinated the Japanese General in charge of Korea at the time.

Hall No. 6 - The Hall of the Social and Cultural Movement. We skipped through this and had lemon tea to drink.

Hall No. 7 - The Hall of the Korean Provisional Government. We missed this completely.

The Circle Vision Theater - 360 degrees theatre which played a movie about Korea. Not truly inspiring.

The trees get looked after here. Somebody needs to explain to me why this is necessary.

One of the best places that we have visited, without doubt. Caught a bus back to Cheonan and then another to Asan. I was surprised that the cost for the bus was only 950 Won as it didn't appear to be a local bus. And there appeared to be no break between the towns of Cheonan, Onyang and Asan although the map clearly shows them to be seperate towns. Miky wanted to go to a hot spring (oncheon) hotel and a lady on the bus asked the bus driver where a good place to go was.

Got a bus to Asan Spa. We chose the White House for 45000 Won, dropped our bags off and then looked for another place as Miky wasn't happy with the room. Found another place for 30000 Won, with Internet for free and not another 5000 Won in another room, and decided to change hotels. The ajumma at the White House wasn't happy and wanted to charge us 15000 Won for doing so. We thought that 5000 Won was enough. A big argument ensued and the price negotiated was 8000 Won. What a bitch. Never go there. Whilst Miky was arguing a couple came in for "a rest" and paid 20000 Won for the privelege. Obviously married but not to each other.

Our new hotel had a spa, Internet in the room, and a round bed. So much better. We were given a special room with a love machine but changed rooms [Editor's note - I didn't manage to get a photo of that very interesting machinery, dammit]. The vending machine at the end of the hall was interesting. The entrance to the car park is covered so that you can't see the number plates of vehicles inside.

Had beef for tea and went back for a very relaxing spa. Spotted an unusual shop name on the way - "US Junk".

On the bus to the spa area something strange happened - a short, chubby, talkative man was sitting behind Yu-Jin and he just slapped Yu-Jin before getting off. I saw him move his arm but couldn't be sure that he had struck him. Yu-Jin was quite shocked and wanted to know "Why did that man hit me?"


Hammysmum said...

Why indeed? Maybe because Yu-Jin could not talk the lingo? Maybe he thought him rude.

Hammysmum said...

Here goes nothing. I tried to put a comment about the sword, but it didn't 'take'. Who could lift a sword that big, anyway? Is that general the one Yu-Jin was telling me about? He must have been a big fella. Makes me tired just looking at it!