02 November 2008

Hitting the Road

Now, it's November. That reminds me - it's been five years since my last European fling, which took me to London with a side trip to Paris. It was a very nice trip, hurried and low-budget as it may have been, and I look forward to a return to Europe sooner than later.

Until then, I will have to do other trips that carry on the spirit of my past European trips. Good thing I am in South Korea, which feels a lot like Europe in some ways - in the presence of old palaces and modern TGV trains alike.

I have made reservations for my road trip which will take place later this month. I will have a Hyundai Sonata 2.0L for 8 days, and while the primary destination will be the historical capital of Gyeongju, where I plan on spending three nights, I will also cover a number of other sights on the way and back. Some sights on my agenda include:
  • Gangwon Province. I will visit a seaside lake right on the foot of the Diamond Mountains (and by extension, the DMZ); the area is so scenic that Kim Il-sung vacationed there before the war, and after the war during which South Korea captured the area, President Syngman Rhee also vacationed there. My father's family often vacationed there too, as it is as close to their North Korean home as they could get. As I head back south from the lake, I will also pay a visit to a large stone Kwan Yin statue that faces across the Sea of Japan (and hopefully blesses me in the US).
  • Andong. There is a traditional village known for its mask dances.
  • A number of Buddhist temples, including Haeinsa (Tripitaka Koreana) and Beopjusa (huge Maitreya Buddha).
  • Cheonan area, which also includes Independence Hall, a museum dedicated to the Korean struggle against Japanese colonial rule.
  • Ganghwa Island on the outskirts of Incheon, with its ancient dolmens.
  • Korean Folk Village and other sights around Seoul area.
I also booked three nights of hotel in Gyeongju, and will need to book another night in Gangwon Province. I will make that final booking when I have a complete idea of how my meditation regimen will proceed.

This will be an awesome road trip - possibly even more so than those I took back in the US, and definitely above and beyond my Stonehenge visit in the UK. I look forward to it.