Where Did the Tumuli Go?

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Sep 02, 2010

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Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Sunday, August 15, 2010

Oh, it is finally quiet.  I am in a posher hotel tonight.  I looked at the guidebook and was surprised to see it listed in the expensive category.   It is more expensive but not nearly so much as the book says.  I guess I got a fantastic deal through the tourist hotel booking at the airport.  It is called the Koreana.  It is a nice hotel but cable internet is 300 won per minute or a max of 18000 won per day (about $18)  


There was a huge rally right in front of the hotel as I arrived.  It is Independence Day.  When Japan surrendered in WW II,  Korea was freed from its domination, but on the downside it was split between US and Soviet control.  Anyway, there were hundreds of people sitting in the street with special paper hats on, waving their arms during patriotic music and gospel hymns with very loud speeches by some stern looking men and a few women.  I wasn’t sure if there would be any anti-US sentiment because the taxi driver had explained it as a memorial to the bomb dropping.  Oh, I forgot the hallelujahs and amens.  The taxi driver had to drop me a block or so away because of the blocked-off street.  The rally was in progress when I arrived before 5 pm and probably finished around 8 pm.  All of a sudden I noticed it was quiet.


First, an observation on animals.  I haven’t seen any really - except birds and insects.  Where are all the steer that go into the beef dishes?   I saw lots of  vegetables, gardens and agribusiness with hoop-houses, greenhouses and other structures, but no livestock.  I did hear chickens one day but didn’t see them.  And where are the cats?  I saw one or two dogs on leashes but none wandering around as in South America or India.


My day today:  I packed up after a leisurely morning at the W Motel and was out before 9 am.  I took the #11 bus and got off at the Observatory.  I checked it out and walked around it, took a few pics from different sides.  I am still not exactly sure what was observed here and how but it was the earliest observatory in East Asia or the World, depending on the source.


Then I was off in search of the tumuli - the huge royal burial mounds.  I saw the obvious ones in front of me but the guidebook said the park had an entrance fee and I hadn’t encountered any and the map would lead one to believe it was farther away.  I asked directions from some people and followed some signs with little mounds on them, but got nowhere nearer this park.  I did explore from a distance the available ones and they were quite impressive if not always photogenic.  It was hard for me to compose them - big grass-covered blobs that they were.  It was now getting late and I needed to get out of the motel so I sadly bid farewell to my chances of seeing the tumuli park.  I walked back to the bus station area as I would have done last night - I am glad I had the ride because I think I would have been anxious in the dark not sure whether I was on the right road or not.


I bought my ticket on the way back and had to get it changed so that I had enough time to check out of the motel.  I bought two sticky buns before I was laden with all my stuff and rushed around the room doing last minute things and was out the door with half an hour to spare.  It started to rain quite hard as soon as the bus was under way but it cleared soon after.  I took some photos of the gardens and greenhouses, etc, but I think they are all blurry.


I decided to take a taxi to the hotel and was glad I did.  It saved a lot of agony over how to get buses etc.  As soon as I checked in I ran out to take some photos of the rally.  I needed some food and ventured into a Dunkin Donuts that was readily available.  An iced coffee and…a donut…cost me 450 won = about $4.50. 


I managed to overcome my phonephobia and called Yun Hui - not without assistance from a helpful bellhop.  I couldn’t figure out the message that was on her phone when I connected…I wasn’t even sure I connected.  But all was well, we spoke and made arrangements.  She would call back later and confirm and she also had left a message for me as well.  So we meet tomorrow at 10 am.  She sounds very nice.


I should probably write some postcards tonight because I will only have tomorrow to send them out.  Oh, the concerns of the tourist.  I didn’t go out anymore to get some food but ordered some green onion pancakes from room service.  How decadent!


This was typed on my very own netbook.  Hopefully the experience at the Newark airport will not repeat itself.  I need a better set up to deal with my photos since I am using the computer in the bathroom since I couldn’t find an outlet anywhere usable.  I could unplug the lamp but then I wouldn’t be able to see the keyboard - which I need to do for non-letter stuff.


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