The next morning, we checked out of the Andong hotel but it wasn’t the end of our exploration of the city. In fact, we got to spend another full day there before proceeding southwards.
Another must-visit site in Andong must be Dosanseowon Confucian Academy 도산서원, established as far back as 1574 and was built by scholars to commemorate the memory of late Yi Hwang, a great Confucian scholar of his time. In fact, he is important enough to grace the face of South Korea’s 1,000₩ currency, so go figure.
The path to the academy was so picturesque our group took a long while to clear it although we could easily walked through it in five minutes. You see, we were very taken by the crimson red maple leaves that we saw along the way and simply couldn’t resist the temptation of taking hundreds of pictures on our mobile phones that turned out looking the same anyway. Yours truly is guilty as charged.:D
My party of four decided to forge ahead anyway (we did it so often during the trip we might as well be called the ‘advance party’) and got to see Dosanseowon with our own eyes first. The trees within the confucian academy, dressed in their full autumn splendour, were simply too beautiful for words. Such a treat for our eyes!
While we waited for the rest of the group to catch up with us, we managed to have the whole academy to ourselves, and took the opportunity to take many pictures. In particular, the above picture brought back some fond memories. What really started out as a funny idea I had about how the four of us should photograph ourselves at the entrance of the academy morphed into a mini party of sorts when our two teachers and another tour mate joined us. It turned out quite well, to be honest.
More pictures taken with my travel mates. This last one of us attempting to take a wefie is my absolute favourite – we had absolutely no idea the local tour guide was taking a picture of us then.
Apart from furiously snapping away, we did pay attention when our local guide was explaining important elements of the academy, including the daily habits of scholars who used to occupy this space. The scholars lived simply, spending most of their time studying classics or exchanging ideas, emulating Yi Hwang’s ideology of living modestly.
Many of the buildings already stood when Yi Hwang resided at the academy but several were added on after his death to accommodate more students. While the academy had long ceased its academic function, commemorative ceremonies are still held twice a year till this day. I wonder if these ceremonies are open for viewing to the general public; they must be quite a sight!
Apart from Salted Grilled Mackerel and Jjimdak, Andong is famous for yet another dish – Heotjesabap 헛제삿밥. It’s a variation of the world-famous traditional Bibimbap 비빔밥 that uses gochuchang 고추장 (red pepper paste). Instead Heotjesabap uses ganchang 간장 (soy sauce).
There is apparently a very interesting reason how this dish steeped in local tradition came to be about. Heotjesabap literally meant ‘fake Jesa meal’ (Jesa 제사 refers to meals offered to the dead ancestors during death anniversaries) and the name came about because this dish is actually consumed instead of being offered to the dead.
Not complaining, though. While tasting nothing like Bibimbap, I really loved the grilled fish that went with the rice. It was truly tasty! I’m sure every one in my travel group would agree with me, from the way everyone tucked in the moment they sat down.
We had this traditional Andong dish at a restaurant called Kkachi Gumeong Jip 까치구멍집, a short walk away from Woryeongyo Bridge that we visited the night before.
Since we had some time to spare after lunch, we took the opportunity to stroll in the vicinity of the bridge. After all we only saw it in the dark yesterday.
The youngest in our company of four, B, was often caught being contemplative while looking out into the distance. It became somewhat a joke amongst us, with us three trying to capture these ’emo’ moments as often as we could. This was my attempt, when I caught him looking out at the river after I came out from the restrooms.
Thinking we had ample time, the four of us decided to do something which we couldn’t last night – walk to the end of the bridge to commemorate this strange friendship that we shared. Ended up that we barely made it back to the tour bus in time. In fact we were just a couple of minutes late. Oops.
The next activity wasn’t planned, but was something extra our local guide wanted to show us. And it was quite eye-opening. He brought us to a village in Andong where three elderly ladies live and make their livelihood through hand-woven tops using straw.
Over here, this old lady was demonstrating how she tore the straws into thinner pieces such that they were thin enough to be woven. So much skill.
And here, she was demonstrating how she used her saliva to roll up strands of thin straws together so they form a continuous thread to be fed directly to the weaving machine.
This old lady was wearing one of their creations. Must be a dying art, seeing how much work goes into producing just one top. And they don’t come cheap, at approximately $2,000USD per piece. Considering that they can only produce 12-14 per year, I guess the price tag makes sense then.
Then we went apple-picking since apples were in season!
We were told to each pick six apples from the trees in the orchard but in general we were all pretty much more interested in posing and taking pictures with the apples. While on the trees. Haha. City dwellers always are amazed by the weirdest things.
Korean Drama fans might have heard of or watched the 2018 TvN Korean Drama Mr Sunshine, starring Lee Byunghun as the male lead. Have to admit that I watched a couple of episodes and got a little bored with the plot… so I moved on to another drama. As such, I was not very familiar with Manhyujeong Pavilion 만휴정 and the bridge but some of the travel mates in our group did, and explained the gist of its significance to us.
Manhyujeong Pavilion was apparently the location where it changed Eugene’s (Lee Byunghun’s child character in the drama) life; it was there that he met the blue-eyed Missionary who brought him back to America with him.
Our local guide for the 2nd day in Andong is an avid photographer and he took some really nice pictures of our group. Even at the pavilion and bridge, he was busy running up and down getting the best angles. A very responsible and interesting guide. Just not a huge fan of his cheesy photography angles. 😆
It was close to sunset when we were finally done with our sightseeing in Andong. With a rather long drive ahead, we bade our local guide farewell and went on our way to Tongyeong.