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King’s Alley, EcoMobility Village

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One lazy weekend morning, after watching a movie, you may have probably wondered where to go next for some time. Then, how about walking on surrounding areas, wearing comfortable shoes and clothes? Traveling does not necessarily involve going to a distant place carrying bags. Today, how about some light travel?

EcoMobility Village – Streets ideal for walking & murals on low garden walls

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When we visit places where kings used to reside, we tend to skim through palaces and move to other destinations without lingering. Is it because kings were the owner of the palaces? What if we assume that kings built palaces and fortresses for their people? Then, people become the owner of the palaces. The Temporary Palace at Hwaseong Fortress is just that. How does the village of people, whom the king loved so much, look now? If you miss out on the village, you cannot say you have visited this place.

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If you walk toward Hwaseomun Gate from the Temporary Palace, you will see a geometric signboard marked “EcoMobility Village.” It is the entrance to “King’s Alley.” You may interpret it as “the alley to commemorate the king’s love for the people.” Among several paths, if you walk along the path leading to the Seongyeong Library, you will see a writing “Hello” on one side of the wall next to splendid flowers. Who would ignore the place after seeing that greeting in the alley?

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I automatically walked toward the alley. Next to the flower painting was a stylish frame supporting the dilapidated wall. Between window glasses, exotic accessories were sparkling, waiting for attention. The attraction of the narrow alley between buildings located next to a big road where cars were running began from there. I followed the mural drawn on the bottom of fences as tall as I am.

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The paintings of sunflower, frogs singing on lotus leaves, blue bird, and trees seemed to be in harmony with living plants emitting a refreshing grass scent. After walking along the alley, you will get to a two-forked path.

Hanok stay –  Enjoy flower tea at the Korean traditional house

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After leisurely walking along the path with no signpost, you will see a yellow mark “Noah JAE 50m ahead.” It was a guesthouse built in hanok (Korean traditional house). You will feel like discovering a place to rest at a “secret garden.” When I walked into the house, I literally had that mystical feeling, being surrounded by flowers and flower tea.

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The guesthouse was surrounded by single-story buildings. The basement had a studio that makes Korean traditional flower tea, the first floor housed a café, and the second floor offered hanok stay. The ambience of the café was very impressive. In Korean traditional houses, windows create most of the mood and provide a soft, elegant feel. This place was no exception. The wooden window grids interpreted the world in various ways. Among the menus of rose flower tea, magnolia flower tea, and plum flower tea, I ordered magnolia flower tea and sat on a spot where I could see the alley well.

Tea ceremony  –  A wonderful way to explore Asian culture and art 

As I was drinking traditional tea, I remembered the tea ceremony I learned not long ago. The place where I learned tea ceremony was called “Sisang” located across from Jangan Park. From the stairs leading to the second floor, I could see Jangan Park. Papers attached on the wall had poem concert dates as well as the names of famous poets. I would probably skim through the names without paying a lot of attention, but the name of poet Ko Un left an indelible mark on my mind, along with a newspaper article I read one day before.

I remembered the article saying that he won the international new poet award in Rome. What was really amazing was the poster of Jeong Yak-yong, hero of the Temporary Palace at Hwaseong Fortress. Tea and Jeong Yak-yong? I later found out that his penname “Dasan” was chosen because he drank a lot of tea. It was a moment of envisioning him from a totally different perspective. When I entered the gate as I was listening to old music flowing from the front side of the gate, I could not smell the strong tea aroma I had expected. Come to think of it, I could only smell the traces of aroma on my tea cup.

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Before the demonstration of a tea ceremony, we made dasik (tea cakes), which refers to Korean traditional sweets made by mixing honey with rice powder, bean powder, pine pollen, black sesame seed powder, and chestnut powder and pressing the mixture on honey cake molds made in the shape of flowers and fish. According to a legend, it began in the late Goryeo Dynasty. To make dasik, you need to take a little dough, place it on the mold, and press with your fingers. When I was making more challenging shapes such as fish or butterfly shapes, I felt a sense of great achievement. We presented our completed dasik on beautiful porcelain plates. This time, the instructor of tea ceremony had a big smile on her face. Her elegant posture while wearing the Korean traditional costume, her smile, and her long fingers as well as the transparent vessels that reveal the tea inside left a strong impression like a piece of water painting.

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The light forsythia color in the tea cup and the aroma of tea lingered in my mind. The aroma and the painting come to mind whenever I drink a cup of tea. As I looked at the painted image of apricot flower on the bottom of the tea cup, I thought about the winter season. When I looked at the painted image of lotus flower, I thought about summer; as I was drinking magnolia flower tea, I imagined spring. Thinking of visiting the guesthouse again to experience the Korean traditional house on the 3rd floor one day, I left Noah JAE.

 Korean Set Menu – restaurants setting hearty food for hearty people

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I walked along the mural and noticed a painting of childhood games such as jegichagi (Korean shuttlecock game), malttukbakgi leapfrog game, hide and seek, and iron loop. These games will be more familiar to our parents’ generation. After passing the mural alleys, I came across a long road that seemed to be several hundreds of meters long. Several workshops, galleries, and shops lined the road, which was located on the side of EcoMobility Village from the Jangan Junction.

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It was almost lunchtime, so I looked for a restaurant. I noticed one where many people were entering, and it was “Nurichon.” From the entrance, the restaurant looked very shabby, but the inside of this Korean restaurant looked larger and cleaner than I thought. The platform for the crockery of sauces and condiments installed in a sunny location reminded me of the countryside. I ordered a set menu, which included several side dishes. The reasonable price further whetted my appetite. After the meal, they offered free sikhye (sweet rice drink) for dessert, and I liked it a lot. On one side of the wall was a photo zone. The painting of trees, pink cherry blossoms, and blue sky was perfect for the spring season in May.

Cafe – secret-locals have been coming here

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After satisfying my hunger, I felt drowsy and needed a place to take a rest. I found a coffee shop nearby. The name of the shop was “Haenggung Gabe.” After ordering kiwi juice, I looked out the window. As I was looking at cars whizzing by, I felt indescribable pleasure. It was probably because I felt like I have stopped time. The coffee shop was not big, but it had many exotic things that would make it a perfect dating place. One side of the wall was decorated with autographs of celebrities who visited the coffee shop, which also had many books. I picked up one book with a noticeable blue color. It was a collection of poems by poet Yun Dong-ju. This neighborhood seemed to be full of good writings, artwork, and paintings so that we could learn something even a bit. There was the birthplace of Na Hye-seok, Korea’s first western painter, and I had an opportunity to appreciate her paintings and murals. In this cafe that I happened to come by, I could meet the poems of Yun Dong-ju, too. I copied his poem titled “Gil (Road)” on my notebook and saw tourists who were taking photos and talking pleasantly. Before I knew it, it was already evening.

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It was late, but I had probably waited for this time. I wanted to take photos of the night scenery. I previously passed by this area by taxi. I remembered how the place looked very exotic and seemed to come straight from a scene in a movie. The night view created by soft lighting from the small space and the outside street lights was very unique. I took out my camera to take a few photos. The result was very satisfactory.

Epilogue

One day seemed to be too short to know this place well. I visited “EcoMobility Village” today, but there were several other communities with different characteristics. I imagine sitting around at the guesthouse and sharing each other’s photos. I would probably be talking about the life of artists from this area while drinking tea.

 Further Information

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Pink Suwon Hwaseong

YellowHwaweong Haenggung

Blue Noah JAE (36, Hwaseomun-ro 42beon-gil, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do / +82-31-245-2456)

Purple -Nurichon (59, Hwaseomun-ro, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do / +82-31-242-2722 ) & Haenggung Gabe (58, Hwaseomun-ro, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do)

Red Yeongdong Market

Green – Sisang (251, Paldal-ro, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do / +82-31-246-9030 / email – mukang50@naver.com)

 

 

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