Monday, May 12, 2014

[Tour/Press Article] Daegu Stamp Trail(English Ver.) / Part 1: Palgongsan Area

The Daegu Tourism Office offers both tourists and residents of the city a chance to explore the city by taking part in the Daegu Stamp Trail. It is very simple to get a stamp book from many of the tourist information booths around the city. Stamp books cost only 1,000 won, and there are two versions. The English book has 10 locations to visit, and the Korean book has 30. All of the locations in the English book are also in the Korean book, but the Korean book has some additional places that might be a bit more difficult for a tourist or foreigner to find. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can buy both books! The Stamp Trail book is divided into sections, grouping together the locations that are close to one another. The English book has only three sections: Palgongsan (Mt. Palgong) area, downtown area, and Suseong/Gachang area. The Korean book has an additional Nakdong/Biseulsan (Mt. Biseul) section. The books give some information about the locations as well as maps and public transportation information, which is helpful. There is even a fold-out map in the back of the books with many of the stamp locations marked.

As a side note, Daegu City Tours offer bus tours to many of the locations in the books for only 5,000 won per tour for an adult, making it even easier to complete the book. Sometimes the 5,000 won is even cheaper than getting on and off public transportation. If you get all the stamps in either book before October 31, 2014, you can get a Daegu souvenir—although the book is not specific about what the souvenir is exactly. The stamp trail allows you to go to places and see things around the city that you may not otherwise have visited.

You can complete the entire Palgongsan area section in the English stamp book in one day. Those locations are Dongwhasa Temple, the Bangjja Yugi (Brass) Museum, and the Bullo-dong Tomb Park. They are all on the Express Bus 1 line, so they were fairly easy to get to. You can catch that bus under the underpass by Dongdaegu Station.

The Dongwhasa Temple bus stop is simply called “Donghwasa,” and it is at the end of the line. The bus will stop at the base of Palgongsan, so follow the signs and walk up the mountain for about 10 minutes to get to the actual temple. First, you’ll come across a main gate where you pay a small entrance fee, so bring a few thousand won when you go. Continue walking over the bridge, and you’ll see a tourist information booth directly in front of you. That’s where you get your stamp. If there isn’t a person in that booth, go right towards the main part of the temple, and there is another information booth where there should be someone to give you a stamp. The temple is very pretty with lots of hanging lanterns, but the best part is down the long, dragon staircase. There’s a serene, wooded area with a stream running through it. If you walk to the right and up a hill, you get to another main temple building and the massive standing Buddha that Dongwhasa Temple is famous for. It is in an awe-inspiring open space with many other beautiful stone carvings and the mountains behind it.

*The Map of Donghwasa

After taking a moment to relax and enjoy the view, head back down the mountain to get on the same bus back toward Dongdaegu station. The first stop on the way back is the Bangjja Yugi (brass) museum. The bus stop is named for the museum, so it is easy to get to. When you get off the bus heading toward Dongdaegu, cross the street and take your first left. Walk down that street for about 5 minutes, and the museum will be on your left. The front desk at the museum is where you get your stamp.

This museum may not sound like the most entertaining place, but it is worth a visit, especially if you want to learn something interesting about Korean history. Brass was once a very important item in trade and export for Korea, so at the museum you can learn all about how the brass industry has changed throughout the centuries. The process of manufacturing brass is actually highly skilled, and it is only in recent centuries that the black, oxidized layer of the brass was shaved off to give it the shine we know today. Watch the short film at the before checking out the exhibits. It gives plenty of valuable, historical information. There are rooms in the museum dedicated to beautiful carved brass utensils while others are for brass instruments. In one area, you can actually listen to the different sounds the brass instruments make. There is a special exhibit at the museum featuring colorized photos of Seomun Market from many years ago so that you can see exactly how much Korea has changed in such a short period of time. The museum also has a small gift shop where you can buy brass products. Most of the items are fairly expensive, but they do make good souvenirs. You can get a set of chopsticks and spoon or a duck-shaped rest for your chopsticks for around 30,000 won.

*The Map of Bangjja Yugi(Brass) Museum

After finishing up at the museum, get back on the same bus headed toward Dongdaegu Station. This time get off at the stop called, Bullo Catholic Church for the Bullo-dong Tomb Park. Cross the street and walk to the left behind the rows of shops and houses on the main street then turn right and keep walking straight for a few minutes. There’s an information booth at the entrance to the park where you get your stamp. They may look like small hills, but, as the name states, they are really tombs. Important people in Korea were once buried under mounds. A person is buried in a casket with some important possessions. Then a structure is built over them with wood, stones, and dirt to form a man-made mound. Grass grows, or is placed, over the mounds. The Bullo-dong Tomb Park has relatively small but numerous tomb mounds. They dot the landscape beautifully in the area. You can also climb on top of them to see a spectacular view of Daegu.

*The Map of Bullo-dong Tomb Park

It is definitely possible to visit all three places in one afternoon, but you may choose to take it at a more leisurely pace. Additionally, the Daegu City Tour offers a Palgongsan Course that stops at each of the mentioned locations, so that may be an easier option. The Daegu Stamp Trail is a fantastic way to see Daegu. Stay tuned for further posts about visiting other stamp trail locations. 

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