Suwon First Hand

Written by on October 30, 2012 in Travel

Over the past three weeks, The Korea Blog has focused on the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, Haenggung, and cultural performances and activities. This week concludes the series by taking a look at several activities one can enjoy as a participant, rather than a spectator.

Suwon The Korea Blog Shopping - QiRanger

Can’t find that perfect hanbok? No problem, have one custom made for you!

Shopping

One of the best things to do in the area is taking time to do a little shopping. Located adjacent to Paldalmun is the market that shares its name. This expansive covered network of alleys is teeming with vendors selling all sorts of wares for locals and tourists alike. Several stores carry a wide range of souvenirs, but far more had everyday items in stock, making the marketplace suitable for regular shopping trips. If one needed new kitchen utensils, plenty could be found, ranging from new bowls to exquisite tea sets. Along one of the alleyways was a collection of hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) stores. These establishments had an assortment of colorful garments for all ages ready to be pulled off the rack. If a customer wanted something custom made, that could be arranged as well.

Shopping works up an appetite, and the marketplace is a great area to stop for a snack. Several street vendors sell traditional fare, including ddeokbokki, mandu, and squid. However, you also have some other options like fresh fruit. This is especially true in the “wet market,” where produce and meat is sold. Those living in Korea will enjoy the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, often for a fraction of the cost typically sold at big retailers. The Paldalmun Market is located directly east of the southern gate. The “wet market” or Jidong Market, is located across the Suwon Stream.

Shooting For a Good Time

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Test your might! How good of a shot are you?

Across from the East Gate (Changnyongmun) is the large Eastern Military Compound. One of the key features of this important site at the Fortress is the large grassy field named Yeonmudae (연무대). During the time of King Jeongjo, the area was used to train troops. Today it is host to a souvenir shop, Korean Restaurant, Traditional Tea House, and Archery Range. The latter offers fun for the whole family.

Scheduled at 30-minute intervals, tickets can be purchased at the nearby information booth. W2,000 allows visitors the opportunity to try their hand at shooting 10 arrows at 10m targets. When called, the 30-member group is led onto the shooting platform and given instruction on how to hold the bow, thread the arrow, and release. The instructor tells everyone to pull back with two fingers, making a “V,” and then say to yourself, “가위 – 바위 – 보!” The count, which translates to scissors, rock, paper serves as the perfect 1-2-3 tempo for releasing the arrows at the downrange targets.

However, letting the arrows fly is one thing… having them hit the target is an entirely different matter. Because of their repeated use, many of the arrows are warped and the bows’ strings not taught. Nonetheless, the experience is worthwhile and perfect for friendly competition. Following the archery round, ascending to the second floor for tea is the perfect way to relax and observe the next group try this traditional martial art.

Riding in Style

Hwaseong Trolley - QiRanger

An easier way to explore the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. Ride the Trolley!

Perhaps hiking the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress isn’t your cup of tea. It’s easy to understand, as the circling the fortress walls requires trekking more than five kilometers, ascending, and then descending Paldalsan. Even for those in shape, taking in all the sights can be quite exhausting. Located halfway up Paldalsan and at Yeonmudae is the Hwaseong Trolley – a dragon themed train of cars making a 3.2km, one-way trip between the two locations.

The trollies are able to accommodate up to 54 passengers on each of their twelve runs each day. The first trolley leaves at 10am and the last at 5:50pm. Routes run daily (except Mondays) and take riders from a platform near the  Statue of King Jeongjo (on Paldalsan) by the Western Gate (Hwaseomun), through Jangan Park and the North Gate (Janganmun), near the norther floodgates (Hwahongmun), before arriving at Yeonmudae. This route is probably the most picturesque portion of the fortress and perfect for those wanting to take in the areas beauty without working up a sweat.

Tickets for adults are W1,500, teens W1,100, and children W700. Special discounts are available for groups and senior citizens (65+); however, they are not valid during weekends or holidays.

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Steve Miller

Steve Miller, the QiRanger, is Korea’s best-known travel video blogger-journalist. His videos have been viewed by millions and seen on media outlets in throughout the word. In addition to sharing his entertaining and informative videos, he writes about life abroad and releases a popular podcast. Steve appears regularly on international radio stations, talking about travel, Korean culture and East Asian news. He’s also appeared on Arirang Television sharing unique aspects of Korean life. You can follow Steve on Twitter @QiRanger or visit his site QiRanger.com.