A&E on the World Heritage Train East 2009 travel blog

Old and new Jeonju

Hanok rooftops

Part of the main drag, tres belle n'est ce pas?

Modern hanok...

And more...

and more...

Korean shoes

Terrible-sounding band, shame my flash camera doesn't do video

One of the hardest parts of travelling is the actual travelling itself, though also where a lot of the fun and adventure and meeting locals is. Today though was hard, one of those days where I wished I was on a package tour (almost). It took me a fair while to find which bus station and then which bay were the buses for Jeonju, and there were several places that sounded the same or may even have been alternative spellings for all I know, or perhaps just in a different font in Korean. So I lugged my heavy luggage back and forth all over this immense bus station, at this point having had neither coffee nor breakfast!

I did get both of these essentials sorted in time to get my bus though, and all went well until I tried to get a taxi at the other end in Jeonju. I'm still only at lesson 10 in Korean and we haven't yet covered "that hotel's been knocked down, it's a car park now", which I discovered to be the case after I'd taken my heavy rucksacks for a walk over a mile through the midday heat to my now non-existent hotel. I walked as seven different taxi drivers had said they couldn't take me there, though our respective language skills very sadly didn't accomodate telling me why. Luckily there were several other hotels nearby, so I grabbed the nearest one with a shower, feeling more than a little sweaty by now (I haven't really stopped sweating since I landed, it being so muggy here). The hotel is lovely and cheap, though the staff are the Korean Addams Family to be sure.

Anyway, enough moaning. I mainly came here to visit the traditional hanok village. I spent the afternoon in and around it, and though it wasn't strictly speaking traditional, it certainly was lovely. Basically it's loads of old-style wooden houses, though mostly renovated or newly built - with fantastic craftsmanship, and mostly with craft shops, galleries, museums or yuppies in them. In the way that it was a tarted and arted-up traditional area on the rise, it reminded me a lot of other similarly attractive, arty and touristy places like Lijian and Dali in China, Hoi-An in Vietnam and Galle in Sri Lanka (and nowhere in Britain, we're not that tasteful). I would love to live somewhere like that if it wasn't for the tourists, but I would feel uncomfortable about all the old peasants having to move out of this picturesque area into tower blocks, just so I could knock four of their old hovels into my one smart place. Nevertheless, the Hanok 'Village' was very charming and picturesque, albeit busy with local yuppies shopping, etc.

Later I met a couple of Canadian English teachers, nice to have someone to talk to. They pointed me towards their favourite restaurant as we parted, but said restaurant wouldn't serve me as I was alone. This wasn't malicious, it is because Koreans rarely eat alone, and restaurant meals are not designed for solo scoffers. This is more feasible in fast food joints, near train/bus stations and in tourist places, but the more traditional a plce, the less likely it is to have meals for solo folk.

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