Column_August_2_Why I Love
While traveling, you will sometimes experience unexpected situations. After leaving London, when I got off in Edinburgh, it was almost midnight. Instead of worrying about where to stay, I kept looking around to check where I was in the darkness. A stout man with earnest eyes approached me; he was kind enough to guide me, an Oriental young girl with small eyes and black hair, to a guesthouse, saying he was Scottish. I had been using guesthouses run by Koreans, so it was my first time to use a guesthouse operated by a local person, and it was an unforgettable experience for me. I sometimes take out the photos I took at that time.
In the photos, the setting sun glowing in various red spectra looked like a painting drawn outside the window. I looked like I was waiting from someone while looking at the picturesque scenery. Either a Scottish or a traveler would tell me a new story. From then on, guesthouses have become a place where I wait for someone or meet someone, rather than a temporary stay place.
A place where travelers wait for encounters – it may be compatible with Koreans’ sensibility. I would like to introduce a few guesthouses that resemble Koreans. The guesthouses are located near the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, and they are all operating cafés; thus, they are the perfect place for hearing stories of people’s life.
During the times when electricity was not readily available in Korea, mothers used to light kerosene lamps and wait for their husbands and sons, sitting near the window and doing needlework. The silhouette of a mother’s posture reflected on the window paper looked as beautiful as a shadow doll. This place reminds me of such scene.
When I look at the soft pastel-toned light passing through the mulberry paper plastered on the lattice of a wooden window while sitting in the café on the first floor and drinking flower tea, I felt the reverent mood I usually got from the stainless glass of a cathedral church. Here, time is meaningless.
Since the place is located in an alley, the view outside the window does not stretch far. However, you can see people’s facial expressions. Depending on the people’s facial expressions, I sometimes laughed along. When I saw an elderly with a hunched back walking such a short distance with great difficulties as if it’s a long distance between Busan and Seoul, I felt sorry for her. Thanks to the owner of the café, I learned about the history of the front house.
On the second floor, you can feel the aroma of cypress tree wrapping your entire body. If you stand like that for a while, you will feel as if you have restored your health through a forest therapy. The room is also called “Cypress Room.” There are also the Red Clay Room and Mulberry Paper Room equipped with a floor heating system. You may think that the rooms are relatively small, but you will not see big rooms in typical Korean traditional houses. The rooms are small but practical enough to restore one’s health. I came down to the first floor, sat down at a table, took out my diary, and wrote down my travel plan. In no time, my scribbles became travel stories of people sitting at tables near mine.
Address: 36, Hwaseomun-ro 42beon-gil, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Contact: Click here
This time, let us go to the 1970s-80s. During this period, Koreans were hooked on music.
At this place, you will be able to hear old music while walking. It reminded me of the movie “Sing Street.” It really felt like a guesthouse located in a corner of Dublin.
At the café on the first floor, if you look around after ordering a cup of reasonably priced coffee, you will find yourself immersed in the sensibility of analog times when mobile phones were not yet available.
You can see foreign currency, coins, or rings made of some kind of metal. Anyhow, they are decorating tables. In the place, a group of people with gray hair and foreigners with curly blond hair were talking in their own language. This guesthouse also has a café on the first floor and a neat, modern structure on the second floor. It has several guests who stay for a long period. They probably fell for the retro style of an Irish village. I had an opportunity to talk to a long-term English guest named James; he was in his early 20s, and he told me about his future plan. He showed me a calligraphy carving and said it was a gift from the owner. After passing the courtyard with a parasol, when I knocked on the small door, the owner of the guesthouse invited us in. If you are lucky, you might get a fancy calligraphy carving as a gift.
Address: 16, Changnyong-daero 41beon-gil, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Contact: Click here
Coming back to 2017, after passing through old times.
GongjonGonggan, (Coexistence Space) Guesthouse
This guesthouse has a golden retriever mascot called “Arr.” It is built neatly by renovating a detached house. The café has an image of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. Designed with modern sensibility, it has two rooms in the style of a dormitory, and each room can accommodate four people. The capacity of accommodation is small, but the café on the first floor is selling beer, wine, and handmade noodles. At the terrace space on the second floor, guests can enjoy barbecue.
Guesthouses are like wearing clothes. You can try different guesthouses depending on your mood. Choose a guesthouse according to your preference to enjoy your travel more.
There is a place where you can see the daily life of Koreans up close. Click here to find out more. You can have a glimpse into their thinking.