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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Friday, August 26, 2016 02:05:11

Asia 2016: 12 - Jeju Island to Yeosu, South Korea

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Janice picked us up at 10AM for the short ride to the airport. We had a long walk to find the Eastar Airlines, but were able to purchase bulkhead seats for $5 each. We checked our suitcases, as it was bus to the plane and up portable stairs. The flight was over half an hour late, and due to the narrowest seats I've ever seen, not comfortable. I don't know what wide people do! The airport at Gunsan is tiny, we were the only plane there.

Our guide for the rest of the trip, SJ, was waiting for us with a comfortable 10 seat van. He lived in Dallas, Texas for 10 years, giving him a Texas accent. His family is from the south of Korea, so he knows the area we are going through. He picked great lunch restaurants, where each meal includes 10 to 20 side dishes that are refilled at no charge.

He took us to a museum with portraits of the rulers of Chosun (later Korea) up until the Japanese invasion in the 1500s, and a temple complex adjoining. Next to the temple was Hanok Village, where all buildings are built in the traditional style. It was built in 1510. It is popular to rent beautiful traditional costumes and wear them in the temple and around the old village. Great for photos.

Our hotel, the Hwangsil, is located in the village and is quite good except for the postage stamp sized towels. Although we weren't very hungry, we found a restaurant in the village where Marilynn could buy a bottle of wine and we could have a light meal.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Marilynn asked me to mention that in women's public toilets, here and in Japan, there are baby seats mounted on the wall of the toilet stall so a baby can be safely seated leaving mother's hands free. There are also small toilets, urinals and low sinks for the use of small boys accompanying their mothers.

This morning we drove to Damyang to visit the Juknokwon bamboo forest, created in 2003, covering 310,000 m2 (3,335,600 sq ft). It has shady paths through the bamboo, and artist areas where bamboo crafts are made. Nearby Samjicheon Village is another ancient village that has been kept as it was, and contains a 1908 church with unusual spires. Soswaewon Gardens were not worth a visit. Streams were dry and not much was in bloom.

In Gwangju we visited the National Cemetery, where bodies of hundreds of people killed by the army in the May 18, 1960 uprising against the military dictatorship that ruled South Korea are buried. The 700,000 people of the city of Gwangju held out against tens of thousands of troops, helicopter gunships, tanks and heavy artillery for a considerable time. The city was totally isolated, phone lines cut and no food or other supplies allowed in. A very moving video brought the whole period to life. In the end it was a major factor in South Korea becoming democratic.

Tonight we are at the Radisson Hotel in Gwangju, a city of 1.5 million. Rather than ignore the 4thfloor it has "F" on the elevator, to avoid the bad luck associated with the number 4.

Our friend Anthony lived in Gwangju for 2 1/2 years. His friends Anton & Eugene own Kunst Lounge, a German Restaurant, so he arranged for us to meet them It was a half hour cab ride each way, but taxis here are not super expensive. We were made to feel welcome by Eugene and later were joined by a beautiful young lady also named Eugene, who was bearing a gift of a bottle of fine wine from Anthony! We thought any gift should be going to him for all his help!

We had a dinner of German food, accompanied by German beer and wine. A fellow at the next table spoke to me in German, thinking I spoke the language, as I had used my limited vocabulary on the waiter. Whether it was us, or more likely the beautiful 28 year old young lady sitting with us, Thomas Kretschmann and his partner, Kihyun Yeo, moved to our table It turned out they were involved in making a film about the riots we had learned about at the National Cemetery today, and Thomas is playing the part of the journalist who risked his life to trek miles outside the surrounded city to find a phone to get word of the heroism of the citizens to the world.

Marilynn told Thomas that Eugene was our grand daughter, something she quickly went along with, explaining she was Asian and we were not as she was adopted. It turned into a lively and fun night, with a lot of laughs and good conversation.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

It seems that the biggest cause of death for men under 40 years old in Korea is suicide. It is the highest rate among developed countries.

Breakfast was on the17thfloor, with a view of the city. Marilynn wasn't keen, due to her fear of heights, but I enjoyed the view.

After a drive of 1 1/2 hours we reached Suncheon where we visited the Naganeupseong Folk Village, established in 940 and on the World Heritage Site list It is a living village with 98 stone and thatched roof houses and 228 permanent inhabitants. They are visited by about 890,000 tourists each year, yet the people are very friendly and welcoming. A nice lady presented Marilynn and I with an unidentified fruit that was very tasty. The village is surrounded by high stone walls with 3 fortified gates. In 1919 the entire village rose against the Japanese occupiers, storming the castle. A number were killed or wounded, and the leaders arrested, but it give a good indication of their spirit.

Next was the k-drama site, a screen set with a variety of types of building from different eras to be used in films.

After a good lunch we went to the Suncheonman Bay gardens and reserve, where an electric open bus made the lengthy tour of gardens from many different countries easy on the legs. It was brutally hot and humid.

It took 1 1/2 hours to drive to the town of Yeosu, where we checked into the very nice Benikea Hotel. Our 10thfloor room had an unobstructed view of the city, the entire bay, fishing port and islands in front of Yeosu. It is a smaller city, and one that would be worth a few days, as there are many things to see and do.

After dark SJ picked us up to drive to a viewpoint overlooking the lights on Dolsan Bridge. The walk through a park on the hill above the bridge was through a long tunnel of colourful lights. Several trees and some wire sculptures were also illuminated.

Dinner was in a good Italian restaurant, part of a hotel two doors from ours.