Thursday, June 19, 2014

[Tour/Press Article] Daegu Stamp Trail(English Ver.) / Part 2: Downtown Area

Daegu Stamp Trail - Part 2. Downtown Area
This is Part 2 of the blog posts about the Daegu Stamp Trail. For Part 1: Palgongsan Area, which includes book purchasing information, please click here ( Additionally, these posts are going to be related only to the English version of the stamp trail. As mentioned in the previous posts, there are two versions of the stamp trail: Korean and English. The Korean trail has 30 locations, and the English trail has 10. The Korean locations will be covered more fully in later posts.

Most people know the downtown area as a crowded maze of shops and restaurants, but the stamp trail lets you see the often ignored historical and cultural aspects of downtown. Korea’s rapid modernization meant that department stores, sky scrapers, and restaurants were all built in around places of historic importance to the country. Some of these historic locations are so unassuming that you can stumble across them without really knowing that they are there. The harmonious way that modern coexists with tradition in Korea is very apparent in three of the downtown locations on the stamp trail.

It is very possible to see three of the four stamp trail locations in the same day because they are all within walking distance of one another. The locations are Seomun Market, Cheongna Hill and the Museum of Medical Missionary Works, and Yangnyeongsi (Oriental medicine) Market and Museum. All of these locations are behind Hyundai Department Store between the Seomun Market and Banwoldang subway stations, to the left of Jungangno subway station. Look for small, brown signs along the way that point to tourist sites.

A fountain in front of Yangnyeonsi museum

The scenery near Daegu Yangnyeongsi museum

The scenery of Daegu Yangnyeongsi museum-2
It is best to start at the location closest to banwoldang: Yangnyeongsi (Oriental medicine) Market and Museum. Go out of exit 13 at Banwoldang station and walk behind Hyundai Department Store. Follow the signs that point to the museum. The stamp booth is located outside the museum at the information booth. There’s also a fountain with big, stone teapots. You can put your feet in the fountain and enjoy the cool water. Dry your feet off afterwards with the air dryer next to the fountain.

The building of Yangnyeongsi museum

The inside view of Yangnyeongsi museum

The inside view of Yangnyeongsi museum-2

The inside view of Yangnyeongsi museum-3

The inside view of Yangnyeongsi museum-4
The museum is a large, white building with exhibits on the second and third floor. The third floor is dedicated to historical information about the herb market in Daegu. And the second floor discusses the principles of oriental medicine and uses of herbs.
 You start on the third floor, and there’s an information booth right as you exit the elevator. Ask the person at the booth for an English audio guide. All you have to do is punch in a number and hit the “play” button. There is plenty of useful information in the audio guide. You can look at the pictures on the walls as you listen. There are also a few videos on this floor, and most of them have English options already. Take a look at what the herb medicine market looked like over a hundred years ago, learn about the harvesting of certain herbs and roots, and hear what happened to the market during Japanese occupation. 
The second floor is the more interactive of the two. There’s a cute patio with various herbs growing in planters. There’s a gift store where you can try some tea made from what tastes like black licorice. The museum offers several programs for visitors to enjoy and all for less that 5,000 won. The programs don’t run on a set schedule, but you do have to pay and let them know at the information desk a half an hour before you want to participate in one. Programs include making herbal mist, soap, and incense bags, or you could choose a more relaxing experience and get an herbal foot bath. There’s even an area for visitors to try on traditional Korean clothing, Hanbok. 
The audio guide continues on the second floor, giving visitors a more detailed understanding of how the body is viewed and treated through an oriental medicine perspective. After you’re finished at the museum, you can head outside. The herb market is along the street just outside the museum if you want to browse the shops. You’ll see a souvenir shop directly in front of you, and the main entrance/exit of the museum just to the right of that. Go out that exit to proceed to the next location.

A way to Chungna hill

A missionary museum on Chungna hill

A bell which near a missionary museum on Chungna hill
Christianity is a very prominent religion in Korea, as many may already know. Next to the museum is Jeil Church, the first Protestant church in the province, built in 1898. It is covered in ivy and very beautiful, so it’s an added bonus location not actually mentioned in the stamp trail. There are two other cathedrals in the area: Gyesan Catholic Church and First Presbyterian Church. Gyesan Catholic Church was built in 1902, and was the first Western-style building in Daegu. It is on the way to the second location if you are interested in seeing it. First Presbyterian is right next to the second location, the missionary museum.

With your back to the herb museum and Jeil church, go to the right and walk straight for a few minutes. If you take the first right, you’ll end up at the residences of Lee Sang-Hwa and Seo Sang-Don, which is a location in the Korean stamp book. These are traditional Korean-style homes. Lee Sang-Hwa was a famous Korean poet, and Seo Sang-Don launched the National Debt Repayment Movement in an attempt to relieve Korea of it’s debts to Japan and gain independence. This will be covered in later posts, but if you’re participating in both books, you might want to stop and check it out.

If you’re not going to the residences, continue walking straight on the market street until you get to a main road. Cross the street and head left behind some buildings. To your left, you’ll see Gyesan Catholic Church. You’ll come to a set of grey, stone steps on your right. There are 90 steps to the top of the hill, and the pictures along the sides of the steps that memorialize Daegu’s struggle for independence from Japan.

At the top of the steps is the second location: Cheongna Hill and the Museum of Medical Missionary Works. The stamp booth is located behind the first missionary house you will come across. There are three missionary buildings, and each is a different, small museum detailing the missionary work done in Daegu. The missionary homes are Western-style architecture, which was strange to see after a long time away from home. It almost feels like being transported to another country for a while. You can look at the missionary homes, the First Presbyterian Church, and a small cemetery, all located on the hill. Explore at your leisure.

The main gate of Seomun market

4 district of Seomarket is crowded by many visitors

Market merchants are waiting for customers in Seomun market
The last stop on the downtown area stamp trail for the first day is Seomun Market. Like the other locations in the downtown stamp trail, the market is steeped in history. It was one of the three main markets during the Joseon Dynasty. Seomun Market is massive and divided into various sections. Almost anything you can think of, you will find at Seomun Market. 
The shops there specialize in clothing and fabric, but there is also an outdoor fish and produce market. The market is both outside and inside, so don’t miss out on anything. Walk around and check out the stalls outside, and then get lost in the maze of the stalls inside. There are two things not to forget when shopping at Seomun Market. First, bring cash! Most of the stall won’t take cards. Second, at any of the shops in the market, you should always ask for a discount and haggle for prices. If you can’t speak Korean, don’t worry! To ask for a discount, just say, “kaka ju say yo.” Most of the shop owners have calculators to display a price for you as well.

If you’re feeling very ambitious, Dalseong Park, which is a Korean Stamp Trail location, is very close to Seomun Market. Dalseong Park is a beautifully manicured park and a great place to relax on a sunny day. There’s a small museum of Daegu history, but it’s mostly in Korean. There’s also a rather unfortunate zoo in the park, but it is being moved to, hopefully, a newer and better facility for the animals. Stay tuned for posts about the Korean Stamp Trail for more information on this location.

This first part of the Daegu Stamp Trail downtown area will allow you to truly experience some of the culture of Daegu. You will learn not only about Daegu’s traditional history and culture, in terms of markets and medicine, but also about Daegu’s interaction with the Western world and Western religion. This part of the stamp trail truly feels like walking through a time capsule and experiencing many parts of Daegu’s rich history in just one day.

The main gate of E-world

People are enjoying Taga Disco in E-world

People are riding a rolloer coaster in E-world

A beautiful garden in E-world

The ride named 'Aladin' in E-world

The night view of E-world
The last location that is part of the downtown area of the stamp trail is completely unrelated to the other locations. It is best to give E-World its own day, or even half of a day. Normally, the tickets are 32,000 won, including a trip up Daegu Tower, but if you go after 5pm, the tickets are half price. E-World and Daegu Tower are open until 10pm on the weekends, so you can still easily see everything at both places even if you go for the half price tickets. The easiest way to get to E-World is to take the subway to Duryu Station on the green line (line 2) and get out at Exit 15. It’s a 5 minute walk from there. There are also numerous buses to that area.

E-World is a Western-style theme park built around Daegu Tower in Duryu Park. There are performances and rides, just as you’d expect at any theme park. There are a lot of rides and activities for children, and there are four big, roller coasters for adults. When you enter the park, you can choose to take the cable cars up to Daegu Tower and start your day there, or you can walk up the hill to the amusement park area and the rides.

On your walk up the rides, you’ll be serenaded with such classics as “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” playing on the loud speakers. In the front of the park, children ride along on motorized animals or mini-trucks. To the right is an attraction where kids can go inside a blow-up ball and run around on the water. There’s also an Aladdin-themed fun house and a haunted house ride right by the entrance.
 As you walk around the park, you’ll see all the rides you’d expect to see at an amusement park. It’s not a large place, but there are some fun rides. The best part: if there aren’t a lot of people in line, the ride operators ask everyone if they want to go again! The big roller coasters are Camelback, Hurricane, and Boomerang. You’ll wish you had a camera on some of them because the drops are so high that they are above the tree line, giving you a nice view of Daegu. 
Another fun ride was the Tambourine. It is a disc-shaped ride with seats along the edges and no seat belts of any kind! The operator’s goal is to knock people off their seats by twirling and shaking the ride in all different directions. Be warned: you might get bruises from holding on! All of the rides have buckets where you can store your bags for free while you’re on them. 

The Sky Way is the easiest way to get up the Daegu Tower, although you can walk up through the garden in E-World as well. As mentioned previously, the entrance to the Sky Way is back down the hill at the entrance to E-World. The cable cars can fit about six people, but the attendants don’t force that many people into each car, so you can travel to the base of Daegu Tower with only your friends. 
The base of the tower has a pretty little garden with lights, a restaurant, and a giant chess board. It’s a really nice, large deck with beautiful views of the city. Daegu Tower will be directly in front of you, but there’s another part of the building worth checking out. The building on the left has a food court with a fantastic selection and an ice skating rink for some winter fun. As soon as you enter the tower part of the complex, you’ll see an information desk next to a coffee shop. That’s where you get your E-World and Daegu Tower Stamp, so don’t forget to stop there. Then, you can go up the elevators to the right of the desk. 
An attendant presses the buttons for you. It’s a very fast elevator ride, so be prepared for your ears to pop. The view of Daegu from the tower is beautiful at any time of day, but even more so at night when you can see the lights of E-World and the city itself. You can see the Apsan Observatory and try to find your area of Daegu. It may not be open yet, but Daegu is opening an attraction there where people can actually jump from the tower! There’s a coffee shop on the top of the tower, so enjoy a coffee and the view.     

The downtown area Stamp Trail locations are a mix of traditional Korean and modern attractions. Gain a better understanding of Daegu’s history and learn about Daegu’s interpretation of Western culture. 

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