Andong: Into the Great Wide Open

Great Wide Open6

This past weekend was a special one in Korea as the Lunar New Year, Seollal, was celebrated. Along with Chuseok in the Fall, Seollal is one of the largest Korean national holidays celebrated. Typically, it’s a time or families to travel to each other and spend time together. For foreigners, it usually means a long-weekend full of travel opportunities.

The Daegu-Gyeongbuk Free Economic Zone hosted a Gyeongbuk camper car tour for 3 days. Our group was 3 Koreans and 3 Americans and we set off for a fun-filled adventure around the region.

First on our list was Andong, a city boasting a variety of cultural sites and activities to take part of. Our group got a view of the lovely Hahoe Folk Village (하회마을), a UNESCO World Heritage site which can be seen via a lovely outlook cliff from the north. History claims that the line of trees planted along the edge of the village are part of a pungsu, aka Feng Shui, design intended to ward off evil from the direction of the cliff.

Hahoe Village Hahoe Village 2 Hahoe Village 3

Andong is famous in Korea for its local Jjimdalk (찜닭), which is a chicken stew. I’ve eaten jjimdalk in Daegu several times and have always loved it (personally I always get the boneless option when available). Well, Andong jjimdalk didn’t fail to impress. It was the best I’ve eaten. Particularly, the stew broth when mixed with my small bowl of rice was really, really good.

In Andong, we also visited the Byeongsan Seowon, a lovely Joseon dynasty-era academy. It was gorgeous in winter time which means it can only be more miraculous in the Fall, when the surrounding hillsides change in color.

At Byeongsan academy Byeongsan Academy

Last on our list for the day was the “Moral Cultural Capital of Andong” traditional village of Andong (정신문화화의 수도 안동). Set along a striking hillside and along the river, the village showcases thatch-roofed houses and very old systems of heating these traditional houses. In the kitchens, the same fire used to heat a pot of water was linked to the adjacent bedroom, which was raised higher to accommodate the heat passing from the kitchen, under the bedroom floor boards, and then out an exhaust hole. This system of Korean floor-heating has been modernized, of course, but is still used widely today in Korea with gas ondols.

Culture Capital Andong River Hanok

Andong had been on my “too-see” list for quite a while. The experience did not disappoint and I would love to return when everything is in bloom there.

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