A wonderful walled city
Suwon Travel Blog› entry 292 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip:
I woke up later than expected on Thursday and had the decision of whether i could be bothered to go to Suwon or if i was going to spend the day trying to catch up with my travel blog, which was slowly but surely not getting updated enough! Thankfully the sensible and active side of my brain kicked into action and i found myself aboard the subway a little after 13.00 and on my way.
Something always strikes me as both peculiar and funny aboout Koreans on the subway. Basically they will all rush to get a seat, but whenever they reach an empty seat next to me, there's a look of desperation and 99% of the time they just turn around and stand somewhere else! The people seem absolutely petrified to sit next to a Westerner, and usually it will be some old man or woman that has probably fought in a great war that musters up the courage to take up the challenge and plonk themsleves down :p Bless them.
The previous night i had been to watch FC Seoul play Suwon in the football and after a quick look in my book i realised that they had a World Cup stadium also, so plans of walking around the walled city were immediately put on hold! The tourism office by the station were incredibly helpful and gave me a map, cards with Korean writing on to show bus drivers and all the relevant information i needed to co-ordinate my trip there. I was soon on a bus heading into the suburbs and within no time found myself outside the Suwon Football Stadium.
After paying 1,000 won ($1), a nice man showed me into the football museum, which had an interesting collection of memorablia. Things which caught my eye included boots worn by David Beckham and a shirt worn by Luis Figo.
After 30 minutes wandering around the museum, i was ready to go and take a look inside the ground and figured i would just get shown into the seating section. But the nice man instead walked me down the players tunnel and took me pitch side, where i got to pose for photos and sit in the managers dug out! It was a very nice experience and i always get a buzz with pretty much anything to do with football - or soccer as you silly Americans choose to call it, pfff.
So after receiving my football fix for the day, i caught the bus down to Paldalmun Fortress Gate, from where i began my walk around Hwaseong - Suwons fortress wall. The wall stretches for 5.7kms and begins with a steady climb up to 143m, where there are some nice panormaic viewes on offer. The wall has been fully restored over recent years, but it does nothing to take away from its beauty and charm.
At regular intervals the wall has observation towers, command posts, fire beacons and a few very impressive entrance gates. I spent nearly 3 hours clambering my way up and down steps and i was in my element, i absolutely loved this place! Many of the passers by had a smile and a polite bow to exchange with you and i just couldn't stop grinning like an idiot! Why was i the only foreigner there, why wasn't this place clambering with national and international tourists? Im damned if i know the answer to that, because i was blown away by it.
Some of the views of the city were also enchanting, with one towering church dominating a section of the skyline. There were also smaller churches and a mosque that were on view as well as the World Cup Stadium. But what really struck me was the contrast between new and old. Towering skyscrapers rose above the small tiled roofs of older buildings and the mixture was something to behold. I thought Korea wouldn't have much to see or do, but my first week in the country had made me eat my words and i was now just itching to get to see some more! I had a date with Soju back in Seoul, so i caught the subway back to the capital around 18.30, drawing to an end a thoroughly fascinating and enjoyable day trip.