Monday, September 26, 2011

Daegu (대구)

Lots of photos ahead!

I traipsed off to Daegu (대구), a few hours south of Seoul, to visit William a couple weekends ago. He had a whole itinerary, and I feel like I saw a lot of Daegu- we went to lots of places, ate A LOT, saw a giant Buddha, and even found time for a noraebang (karaoke). So here are a bunch of photos:

William and Dean, though I was distracted by the large platter of fish that had arrived at our table just a few seconds before I look this picture. I think this is the only picture I took of William, and now that I look at it, I have no pictures of the two of us together!
I mean seriously, though, who can blame me for forgetting to take pictures of people? There were fishies to eat- there was always something to eat! This was at 어물전, a fish restaurant across the street from a funny motel. The motel had shower curtains (okay, they weren't shower curtains) blocking their driveway, so that people who were cheating on their spouses wouldn't get caught by parking their cars in plain view.
Daegu Stadium, where we went after lunch to have coffee and walk around. The mascot for the world championships is this colorful sheepdog-looking cartoon character, who was quite cute. That huge cutout of the athlete was the first one we saw, but not the last- they were all over the place, and very clever. One of the cutouts was a woman pole-vaulting, the pole being a lamppost. Another cutout was of a hurdler, a fence being the hurdle. All the cutouts were larger than life and double-sided, and added a lot of interest around the city.
From the stadium, we walked to the Daegu Art Museum to see some art. We made the mistake of deciding to walk because the day was overcast and breezy and we were high from all the fish we ate at lunch. It was a long walk, y'all. The museum was a really nice space, but the "Made in Daegu" exhibit on the second floor was not good. The contemporary art exhibit on the first floor was nice. No cameras or taking of pictures allowed, which is a shame (harrumph).
A quick stop at a pet shop for William's puppies, where I met Rufus. Yes, I've named this adorable little sleepyhead. His name is Rufus and he really wants to live with me. I miss my crazy cat!
This is Rufus's friend and neighbor, who was a little spastic. He's not striped, that's the reflection of my top. I really wanted to play with the kittens, but then I would never have left the pet shop, and we wouldn't have made it to the noraebang to sing lots of cheesy songs.
I have never seen this before, but found it hilarious. Really? Targeting cat food to their owners? Don't all cat owners have cat lovers' souls? This is just a bizarre marketing tactic.

I didn't take photos, but we went to a noraebang (it was called Good Noraebang!), then we went to dinner at Outback Steakhouse (we have a joke about Outback), then parted ways in downtown Daegu. I can't speak for William, but I was exhausted, as I hadn't really slept the night before and we did do a lot, all over town. 
The next day was a trip to Donghwasa (Donghwa Temple), after a very arduous bus ride to Palgongsan (Palgong Mountain). It was less arduous for me- I had a seat, and only had to contend with people that were trying to sit on my lap (literally). William was standing the whole time, because he's chivalrous like that, and people were packed into the bus like sardines. The bus driver should have stopped letting people on the bus, but kept on letting them come in. It was seriously incredible, and probably dangerous. We survived and made it to the mountain, mostly intact- our kimbap (gimbap, 김밥) may have gotten a little squished.
Lanterns were strung up all over the place for Buddha's birthday. It says a lot that the lanterns are all still up in September when Buddha's birthday was on May 10 this year. Actually, it mostly says that the lanterns are made of vinyl and plastic and strung with electrical lights, rather than the old-school paper lanterns and candles. I was a little saddened to see the plastic, but I was glad to see the cheerful lanterns, so I guess that's that.
I didn't take a picture of the gourds- there were little gourd halves hung with twine to use for obtaining water from this fountain. We assumed that people were supposed to drink the water, but I have a fear of germs. We washed our hands using the gourds. That may have been disrespectful, but we had walked uphill to get to the temple and our hands needed the washing.
Those three round things at the base of the stairs are phoenix eggs. That's all I know, the sign next to them was in Korean and Chinese. I read some of the Korean, William read some of the Chinese, then we shrugged and walked up the stairs to go into the main square.
We went on a Sunday, and there were tons of worshipers around. I didn't want to take too many pictures, because my camera makes a really audible clicking noise, so I restricted myself to just a few shots. This temple was a little scary, because there are no railings around the platform. No ledge, no nothing.
Probably my favorite picture. This little gate led to a group of small buildings, including a temple. I made friends with a temple cat and gave him water in the little courtyard. Those temple cats, they're friendly and whiny, with their meowing and pacing. I couldn't get a good photo of the kitty in this area, unfortunately.
This was the temple inside the little courtyard, where I took a couple snaps because there were only two people inside. I still felt like I was intruding, so I beat a hasty retreat. I'm not Buddhist, but Korean culture has a lot of roots in Buddhism, and I respect that. I don't understand people who vehemently oppose any religion other than their own.
This little temple cat wouldn't stop meowing. He was very vocal, but refused to come closer. I've noticed that cats in Korea are smaller than cats in the States- and I'm not just talking about overfed house-pets. We saw three cats, all of them rather small and not fearful of people. One cat was running up the very edge of a set of stone steps, and I imagined that the cats loved the monks because the monks feed them. I hope the monks feed them.
Detail on one of the walls of one of the temples. I'm sure the images mean something, but I don't really know what they mean. I liked these temples because they weren't pristine and re-painted, like some of the places in Korea. I mean, the cleanly restored palaces and temples have a charm of their own, but the worn, faded places feel warmer, homier.
These huge, scary statues were in various buildings. I only took this one picture, because they were alarming and I didn't really feel the need to keep images of them. I took a photo of this one because he's got a baby dragon (and looks to be killing it). I like dragons!
There were two of these tunnels (maybe there were more, but we only saw two). One of the tunnels was the tunnel of hope. I don't think this was the hope tunnel- we couldn't figure out what the word was, and William said it was probably despair, in keeping with the yin-yang of Buddhism. I really doubt it's a tunnel of despair- probably something like contentment or inner peace or something.
There was a stream that ran down the mountain, visible from most areas around the temple. It reminded me a little of Hawaii, with the abundant green vegetation, but rather than tropical leaves, Korea is full of trees. I think my favorite part of Korea is the abundance of trees. We saw this part of the stream as we walked from the temples to the giant Buddha statue.
And here's the giant Buddha. He looks tiny in this picture, but it's just a weird trompe l'oeil- he's actually quite far behind the stone pagoda (are those pagodas? I don't know my Buddhist architecture). There were quite a few people praying, bowing before the Buddha, and milling about.
This fountain or faucet is off to the right side of the picture above. I'm not sure what's up with the water at this temple, but I think that it's supposed to be mountain water, which Koreans believe is good for the body (and soul, perhaps).
In front of the fountain. I don't know what the money is for. It was raining intermittently while we were up on the mountain, which wasn't too bad (just a sprinkle here and there, really), but was not good for taking pictures.
There were small figurines and little stacks of stones on the stone walls on either side of the fountain. Koreans stack stones all over stone-based mountains. This may not be a solely Korean thing, but my only experience with these stacks of stones is with Koreans. These are tiny examples; there are huge and elaborate ones at Maisan, somewhere I haven't been since I was in elementary school. I really need to go back while I'm in Korea.
Another look at the little stone stacks. Maybe they're supposed to lend some kind of Zen peace to the builder? I should try it out sometime, see if it brings me some inner peace.
This is the (rather large) temple in the same plaza as the Buddha. That large stone structure on the right side is one of the stone pagodas (visible in the first photo of the pagoda and the Buddha, where the Buddha looks small), which looks enormous in this picture- they actually were quite large.
The Buddha. There was a shiny marble floor just in front of the Buddha, where people prayed and bowed. They took their shoes off behind stepping onto the marble, so I assume it's a sacred place. That man in the white shirt was busy chasing off a sacrilegious pigeon that had dared to step on the marble.
A good look at the temple facing the Buddha. There were monks in that enclosure upstairs, holding a service (prayer? ceremony? I really am ignorant about Buddhism). The overcast day really flattened out all my pictures, which is too bad, because the surroundings and the temples were really beautiful.
The second floor of the temple. More lanterns! I wish the lighting had been better, because there were incredible details on the temple that I would have liked to photograph. Oh, well- there are lots of temples and lots of sights in Korea that are left to visit.
A look back at the pagoda. That stone wall on the lower right side is where all the small figurines and stacks of stones are. I will admit that the drizzly weather did photograph nicely as misty, foggy skies.
This is looking into the temple and out the window to the other stone pagoda (the twin to the one in the previous photo). I was trying to get a good shot of the interior of the temple, to no avail. There were rows of neatly lined-up golden Buddhas inside, mirrored by the lanterns hanging in regimented rows on the ceiling.
Walking down to the stream so we could eat our kimbap (and I could get attacked by a giant green bug). I just love trees! I love the way they look, the way they smell, and I cannot wait for my first real autumn. This is the first time I've lived in an area with tons of trees that will change color in the fall (well, not counting my first three years of life).
I don't remember where, exactly, I took this picture, because it looks unfamiliar to me. My camera tells me that I took it at the time that I was on Palgongsan, so I believe it. This is most likely somewhere near our picnic area- we went down to the stream and sat on a big rock to eat kimbap, have some water, and breathe in that crisp mountain air.
I love these types of areas, with leaves everywhere. I took a billion photos at Jeongbalsan (the mountain next door to my house), and most of them are of leaves, trees, or plants. It really was super green, that sort of brightening, cheering green. I'm not a nature girl- I love the convenience and bustle of cities too much- but I love nature occasionally, and this type of nature is probably my favorite.

Daegu isn't a particular novel city. It's like the other big cities in Korea, with a downtown, mountains all around, some museums, some sports arenas, and the like. Daegu was fun for me because William planned my visit, took me to see all the places that I may not have found on my own, and served as an excellent tour guide.

If I had gone to Daegu by myself, I probably would have ended up in downtown the whole time, since that's where my hotel was. There's a reason people go to foreign countries to visit their friends- it's better and more fun with a local.

Thanks for the awesome weekend, William! The weather wasn't on our side, but we still managed to have a good time.

(And no matter what he tells you, the man is a great singer.)


william,  September 27, 2011 at 3:26 AM  

the one tunnel was named 희망 (hope) and the other was 우연, if i remember correctly. i just looked it up, and it means "accident, chance, coincidence." does that sound right? maybe it wasn't 우연.

thanks for the post. what did your co-worker (from daegu) think about the places you visited?

jeanny September 27, 2011 at 6:14 PM  


He's been obsessed since the spicy place near work shut down. Sigh.

A bunch of people told me that the mountain was a good call. And nobody knew about DAM, since it's so new.

I think we did a lot!

william,  September 30, 2011 at 6:14 AM  

tell him you are done hearing about the spicy ddeokbokki. just shut it down.

we did do quite a lot. i'm happy with the itinerary we followed. except i would've liked to have taken you out later saturday night. maybe to a drinking play or gay bar or something. stupid dogs!