It has been a couple of weeks since my Andong trip, and I must apologize for not posting on it last week. But here I am today, reminiscing on my wonderful trip.
When I planned my trip, one of the main things on my agenda was the mask festival. Andong does it every year around the first week of October, and the other main thing was to see Hahoe Folk Village. Thursday was the day. I made my way down to the bus stop and hopped on a bus (the wrong one, but I still made it) and after about 40 hair raising minutes on the bus, arrived at my destination.
The bus dropped me off at the first gate. There, I bought a ticket and then boarded another bus that actually delivers you to the front of the village. The first thing I saw was the beautiful bright yellow rice fields waving in the breeze. It is almost harvest time and the rice had already turned from the emerald green that I was accustomed to seeing on my train rides in and out of Seoul to golden yellow. At the entrance of the village there was an old Hanok house and I could see the thatched roofs of other homes in the village. There was also an area where you can rent a motorized bicycle or golf cart. I chose to walk around instead, though the prices to rent them were quite reasonable.
A group of scarecrows in the fields greeted me as I made my way into town. One thing to note about this particular village is that people still live and work here, it is not just for show. Families live here, people still farm here, and from the cars I saw in front of some of the houses, they seem to do pretty well. The town is very clean and well maintained. Since it is historically one of the oldest, the map that they gave us when we checked in, highlighted key houses that have been around for a while and who were the important people who lived here. From what I could gather, this town was started by one family and grew as the family grew. There was a mix of simple mud homes with thatched roofs and Hanok style wood homes. There are a couple of small restaurants and a few of the houses show old crafts such as straw shoe making.
The town buildings have mostly a brown look to them. The roads are dirt and there aren’t any tall trees anywhere. But most everyone had a garden of some sort and there were persimmon trees heavy with fruit everywhere.
I wandered around the village for quite a while just admiring the homes and imagining what this place was like during the Joseon Dynasty. I only have the Korean period dramas that I have seen for reference, but still, in my mind I could see the women walking carrying water or fruits and vegetables, men hauling carts or selling wares, and children running up and down the dirt streets with their friends.
At the back of the town there were men working in a field. What caught my attention, however, was the view of the rice fields surrounded by the mountains; it was breathtaking. On one side you could see the steeple of a church pointing towards the sky, the church itself was surrounded by the yellow carpet of rice. In the center of town there is one tall tree. It’s a very old one and has a happy wooden grandmother keeping watch as people tie ribbons around her fence, leaving their wishes and blessings in her care. On the other side of town there is a pine forest and river. It seems this is where they hid their taller trees. The forest itself isn’t large but it really is lovely to walk through. The trees aren’t crowded together to closely, each one has enough room to spread its roots in the ground and it’s branches in the sky. The trees provided nice shade and there were benches here and there for sitting and relaxing. Since it was a holiday week, there were plenty of people about taking advantage of the view.
If you walk towards the river, a large cliff can be seen on the other side. I could see people up there walking around. I noticed these strange ropes connecting the cliff across the river to the side I was at. At first I though it was for a zip line but when I looked closer, a person would hit the side of the embankment should they zip line across. I found out the next day from the monk at the temple that they were for fireworks. They do a traditional fireworks show on the weekend which is supposed to be really good, but unfortunately I wasn’t going to still be in town to see that. Major bummer.
At the river bank they were beginning to do a show. There were traditional drummers and some of the elders were walking around in their traditional hanboks. I believe that since Andong is known for it’s Confucius school, most of the traditional clothes are what the scholars would have worn.
I decided to take a seat in the grass along with the other people. I wasn’t really paying too much attention to the show, instead I found myself people watching. I did notice that an MC was talking and they said something about giving gifts. Then all of a sudden they were pointing at me and ushering me with their hands to come up on the stage. I was at first unsure until I heard the word waygook, which is the Korean word for foreigner. It seemed like I was the only waygook sitting close by. When I took too long one of the elders came to me and walked me up to the stage. I couldn’t tell you what was said other than they asked me where I was from and how was my Korean. They handed me a couple of gifts and sent me on my way.
I decided to leave not to long after that. Though there were things I had missed, such as the ferry ride across the river and the Confucius school, I decided I wanted to head back into town and find the other location for the festival.
Here are a few extra pictures that I took of the village. I did go to the mask museum on site before making my way into town. But I will save that for next time. Thanks everyone for reading, and I hope that this inspires you to make your own adventures.