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Monday, April 3, 2017

South Korea: Day 10 - Andong, the Hahoe Folk Village and the Mask Museum

In the morning, we walked from our guesthouse in Gyeongju to the nearby train station. Our train to our next destination, Andong, left shortly after 9 a.m. and we had gotten the tickets already the day before. Two hours later, we arrived at Andong Station and first went to the Tourist Information, which is just to the left right after you exit the train station. There, we got all the relevant bus timetables, which were really useful. We booked two nights at the Goodstay Andong Park Hotel, which is just a few meters away from the station. We were lucky and allowed to check in already! Our room was maybe not the most modern, but okay, with a large TV and a refrigerator.


Our main reason to go to Andong was the Hahoe Folk Village, which is a historic village and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So, after a short rest, we walked to the bus stop, that was also marked on our map of the Tourist Info. Coming from the train station, you just have to cross the street on the other side and walk a bit to the left, and then take the Bus 46. We paid the fare with our very convenient T-Money Card. The bus ride took about 50 minutes and we could sit - fortunately, it wasn't crowded.

The bus ended at the Hahoe Mask Museum and the ticket counters. From there, a shuttle bus brings the tourists into the village. We were really looking forward to the Mask Museum and decided to go there first. The museum showcases traditional masks not only from Hahoe but from all over the world.


It was fascinating, and they offer a lot of information on the masks. Some were used for weddings and good luck (like the "Fortune-seeking Mask" from China, which is hung on the house for inviting good luck). Others were used to scare enemies (like the "Mud Man Mask" from Papua New Guinea) or drive away demons. They have a lot of masks from South Korea (around 300!) and other Asian countries, including Japan, India, China, Thailand and the Philippines.



I was especially interested in the ones from the Philippines since I grew up there - Shaman Masks, one War Mask, and masks against evil spirits. I wasn't even aware that we have such in the Philippines.



They also have a rich variety of traditional masks from Africa, America and even Europe (Venetian Masks). We really enjoyed this unique museum!



When we were finished with the masks, we walked to the nearby shuttle bus, which seems to go frequently and which brought us in a few minutes to the entrance of the nearby Hahoe Folk Village.


The village is beautifully located on the Nakdong River, at the foothills of Hwasan Mountain. We just walked around the area, admired the traditional, thatched-roof houses, the surrounding nature and had some (terrible!) coffee. The village was established in the 16th century as the home of the Ryu clan.




It seems to be possible, to follow a path from Hahoe Folk Village to Byeongsanseowon Confucian Academy, but it was already late in the afternoon, so we skipped that. We took the shuttle bus back to the parking lot at the Mask Museum and returned to Andong with the next bus.



On the walk back to the hotel from the bus stop in Andong, we entered a shop to load some money on my phone. We've bought a local EG SIM Card, but our credit was nearly gone. We got in, but when the three employees realized, we just speak English, they were soon discussing, who had to talk to us. Apparently, no one really wanted. We experienced that a couple of times, that people instead want to disappear than try. We don't speak or understand any Korean. That was no problem in general, as some people always spoke English or we had printed out stuff in Korean (like names of tourist attractions or train stations). But when it gets more complicated, it takes some time, to understand each other. At first, I assumed, that we are at the wrong company shop, but it turned out to be the right. Then they needed my passport for an upload of cash. I didn't have it there, so, after half an hour of chat, we ended up leaving and reloaded via another option, through Paypal.

Later, my friend went to a big supermarket nearby the train station at the Home plus building, and we had dinner to take away from Burger King. There are several restaurants in the area of Munhwagwangjang-gil. We also passed Onaencheong Spa Land (with pools and saunas) in the street Daean-ro, just a few steps from the hotel, but we were so done for the day and instead went to sleep. The next morning, we would visit the city of Danyang.





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