Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cheongna: Jung-gu’s New Alley Tour Bus

A snappy new arrival is showing Daegu visitors around downtown: Cheongna, Jung-gu’s new alley tour bus.

Compact and with a touch of style, Cheongna is a throwback to the buses that used to ferry Daegu’s citizens around the city. It ties into Jung-gu’s successful Alleys of History tourism program, and its course highlights some of the best modern history sights in Jung-gu.

Here’s the course: Hyangchon Cultural Center  Daegu Modern History Museum → Dongseongno  Gukchae-bosang Memorial Park  Kim Kwang-seok Road  Bongsan Culture Street  Cheongna Hill  Seomun Market  Hyangchon.

The Cheongna website (http://alleybus.jung.daegu.kr) is helpful and full of information about Jung-gu, the tour course and the bus itself, so I won’t take too much time relaying it all here.

But basically, a ticket for the bus is 3,000 won (or 1,500 for the disabled and veterans) and can be purchased from the bus driver as you board the bus. (They accept cash or cards.) You can begin your tour from any bus stop along the course.

Tickets are good throughout the day of purchase; that is, you’re free to get off the bus, look around, catch the following bus and go on to another stop without buying a new ticket. So convenient, right? What a deal!

The bus starts at 10am, across the street from Hyangchon, and runs until 5pm. The bus is closed on Mondays and the holidays of Chuseok and Lunar New Year (Seollal).

So this is inside Hyangchon Cultural Center. We’ll take a look at a couple other places on the bus tour, but this is particularly fun and interesting. A lot of people don’t know about it, but it’s right downtown and so easy to get to!

As you can see in the photos, Hyangchon recaptures the years immediately following the Korean War when Daegu’s population was exploding and the modern war was turning the city upside-down. Great effort was taken to show what the area around Daegu Station was like back then, hectic with urban life crossed with old traditions. It’s a monument to Korea’s post-war generation, the people who built the country we see today.

Cheongna goes to Daegu Modern History Museum, hands-down one of the best museums in the region. Housed in a colonial-era bank, it too tries to capture the spirit of Daegu during its march to modernization. The best part, no doubt, is a computer-generated tour through the area as it looked in the early 20th century. Wow, things have changed.

Kim Kwang-seok Road is a major tourist destination in Daegu dedicated to the singer-songwriter, who hailed from the neighborhood the road runs by. The road is famous for its many colorful murals depicting Kim’s life and music, and Bangcheon Market now has several great restaurants and cafes to hang out in.

And finally, a quick look around Cheongna Hill, which is best known for its beautiful churches; the charming, well-preserved houses of early American missionaries; and its ties to Korea’s independence movements. The people living and worshiping here helped forge Korea’s modern sense of national identity, and everyone says the area’s just plain lovely anyway.

The bus goes to several other key locations in Daegu’s modern history. And I would eagerly tell you about them all at length, but why not come downtown and experience it yourself? There’s a lot of history hiding in plain sight if you just stop and look!

Directions to Hyangchon Cultural Center, the tour bus’s first departure: Take exit 3 at Jungangno Station and walk straight until you see a tall gray sign indicating the Hyangchon Cultural Center stop for the bus tour. (Refer to the image above.) It will have tour timetable and other information on it. You’ll be across the street from the actual Hyangchon Cultural Center.

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