Ttittimi Village

Sansuyu Village where Movie ‘Weonangsori’ was set

The documentary film "Weonangsori (cowbell sound)" is getting a great popular response here in Korea. Though the movie is an independent film, more than 2.5 million people have seen the movie, breaking the record of viewer numbers for an independent film, and the number is expected to be well over 3 million people soon. The Korean movie society is wondering how many people will see the movie in the future. Let’s take a tour to the remote mountainside village Ttittimi, where a young cow was filmed while pulling heavy tires to train for the popular movie "Weonangsori."

The name of the village Ttittimi is rather peculiar as well as familiar. How did this village acquire its name? A cliff was called Deum in Korean in the old days. The village is surrounded by many mountains. Therefore neighboring villagers called this village Dwitdeum (back cliff). These words were transformed into Ttittimi after they had been changed to Dwitteum-dittimi. The official name of this village on a map is Dudong, but everyone in the neighboring villages and taxi drivers visiting this village always call the village Ttittimi.

An eminent patriotic scholar, Dugok Hong Ujeong of the Yi Dynasty, came here to settle down at this remote village at the end of Byeongjahoran (Chinese invasion between 1636-1637). Insisting that the Joseon Kingdom must not surrender to the invading Chinese Cheong Kingdom, he could not endure the disgraceful surrender made by King Injo at Samjeondo. He gave up his position in the palace and came here seeking a hermit life in the deep mountainside. He determined to keep his conscience and fidelity as a righteous scholar instead of living in a comfortable place as a high ranking subject of a disgraced kingdom. After he settled down at this remote village, his posterity increased continuously generation after generation, forming a clan of the Namyang Hong family in the village. Even nowadays, one out of two houses belongs to the family of Namyang Hong.

Scholar Hong Ujeong planted Sansuyu at Byeongjahoran period

When the scholar Dugok Hong Ujeong came down to this village, the mountainside around the village was covered with the wild plants and bushes of Darae (Actinidia Arguta). Hong Ujeong planted in the village a few trees of Sansuyu (Cornus officinalis) that he had brought from the capital city of the Joseon Kingdom, Hanyang (currently Seoul), and nowadays the blossoms of Sansuyu fill every corner of the village whenever spring comes around. Most of the Sansuyu trees here are well over 100 years old and some of them are nearly 400 years old. The most recently planted Sansuyu trees are commonly 60 to 70 years old. In particular, the Sansuyu fruits produced at this village have rich medicinal ingredients such as Moromicid and Ogaram that are very effective as nutritional stimulants.

The red fruits of Sansuyu maturing in autumn have been as important as rice for the villagers here. As this village is located in the deep mountainside where few rice paddies or crop patches can be found, Sansuyu fruits functioned like deposit notebooks that supported tuition fees and wedding expenses for the children of the villagers. People say Sansuyu trees planted at Uiseong district originated from this village. However, as cheap Sansuyu fruits are imported from China these days, Sansuyu producers in the village are worrying about their poor market situation

Viewed from the surrounding mountains, the village looks like a yellow basket hidden in the bottom of the mountain valleys. Covered with the thick yellow blossoms of Sansuyu, houses in the villages are almost invisible from the nearby mountains. Sansuyu blossoms blooming over the earth and stone walls of four remaining old style houses look very friendly. Sansuyu blossoms begin to bloom from mid March at this village and last until early to mid April.

Valuable cultural properties at nearby Cheonseongsa Temple

Though the Sansuyu tree fields at Ttittimi Village (where only 13 houses out of all 20 houses are currently inhabited) are as attractive as any other well-known Sansuyu villages in Korea, such as Sandong Village at Gurye-gun Jeollanam-do, Hwajeon-ri Uiseong-gun Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gaegun Village at Yangpyeong-gun and Baeksa Village at Icheon-si Gyeonggi-do, they have been known only to a few people so far. However, it is expected that quite a lot of tourists will visit the village from this year, as Ttittimi Village has been known to the public as the place where the popular movie "Weonangsori" was set.

At Geumbong-ri Bongseong-myeon near Ttittimi Village is a Taegojong order temple, Cheonseongsa, on Munsusan Mountain. Though the temple is not very old or large, it has several precious cultural properties. Seokjoyeoraeipsang (standing stone statue of Buddha) in Muryangsujeon Hall is Tangible Cultural Property No. 133 of Gyeongsangbuk-do. It is 159 centimeters high with a 37 centimeter high head and 53 centimeter wide shoulders and is assumed to have been formed around the end of the Silla Kingdom or in the early Goryeo Kingdom. The Buddha statue was found at an ancient temple site in Bongseong-ri Bongseong-myeon but it was moved to this temple by the master monk Lee Hwaseong in 1967.

Cheonseongsa Samcheungseoktap (three storied stone pagoda at Cheonseongsa Temple), which was nominated as Tangible Cultural Property No. 134 of Gyeongsangbuk-do, is one of the twin pagodas found at the ancient temple site in Seonghwanggok Valley in Bongseong-ri. The other pagoda was moved to Bongseong Elementary School. These twin pagodas bear the characteristic charms of the Goryeo Kingdom period and are each 2.7 meters high.


Winter Spa Trip

It is the height of winter in Korea these days, with temperatures dipping below zero on many days. As I was researching a timely topic for Discovering Korea, I thought this time of year would be perfect for a nice, warm spa trip. There’s no need to go to neighboring Japan, which well known for its spas. And that’s good news, because these days, the won-yen exchange rate is particularly unfavorable for Koreans. There are many facilities in Korea that can make for an affordable and close trip for couples, friends and families. Today, I introduce four of the best known spas nationwide, recommended by the Korea Tourism Organization.

Spas are a great place to relax our fatigued bodies in warm water while our faces enjoy the fresh cold breeze outside. It’s hard to think of any other experience as refreshing to the body and mind. Did you know that ‘spa’ is also the name of a famous town in Belgium, which is of course know for its spas? The spa experience is more than simple bathing. It also implies a healing process.

If you happen to love sushi, this first place may suit you: the Seorak Waterpia spa in Sokcho, Gangwon province. The spa is adjacent to the stunning Mount Seorak, so you can imagine the majestic natural scenery. Waterpia is known for its well-equipped modern facilities, including an aqua dome. Also, port city Sokcho is a great place to eat fresh raw fish and other seafood to your heart’s content! Start out early in the day and head to Daepo port where you can find a string of fishing boasts coming in during the early dawn hours after a night catch. Fish purchased here are the freshest you can find.

The second destination is Icheon, Gyeonggi province, which is much closer to Seoul. It’s said that Joseon kings Sejong and Sejo often came here to bathe—giving the spas here a great reputation for quality. Of course the facilities have greatly improved since the old days. Spas in Icheon take after German style spas. After a good bath, we need good food. So what is Icheon famous for? Many things, but one is certainly rice. Koreans have a delicate palate for rice, since it is our staple dish. Icheon rice immediately stands out in its taste and quality. Icheon is also famous for ceramics. Visitors can also try their hand at making pottery while they’re in town.

The third spa of choice is the Jukrim spa in Wanju, North Jeolla province. This area boasts the best alkaline sulfur spring in the country. The sulfur content makes the water slippery, which you can feel immediately as you go into the water. Sulfur springs help to extract heavy metal residue from your body and heal skin diseases. Some scholars rank Jukrim spa higher in quality than the famed Beppu spa in Japan. Wanju is famous for its tofu dishes, and it’s also close to the Jeonju folk village.

The last choice is the Uljin spa in Uljin, North Gyeongsang province. Apart from the spa, Uljin is a great winter travel destination and a site for the New Year sunrise. Uljin is the top spa resort of the east coast. Only 58 thousand people live in Uljin, but it has two spa resorts that are both hundreds of years old. One of them, the Deokgu spa, is the one and only natural spring spa in Korea. Spring water shoots up five meters high year-round at an average temperature of 41.3 degrees Celsius. And the other Baekam spa is one of the few sulfur springs in the country. It’s also very historic, as it was first discovered in the ancient Silla dynasty era.

So, to recap the four spas, they are Seorak Waterpia in Sokcho, the Icheon spa, the Jukrim spa in Wanju and Uljin spa in Uljin county, North Gyeongsang province.

And many more spa resorts have sprung up across the country, so Koreans have plenty of options for a winter spa trip.



Commercial Break in Busan

Shopping and Commerce

Commercial areas are dispersed through the city near busy intersections and adjacent to university campuses, but the two largest central business districts in Busan are Seomyeon and Gwangbok-dong/Nampo-dong. There are also four substantial shopping areas of note: Seomyeon, Gwangbok-dong, Busan Dae Hakap in Jangjeon-dong, and Haeundae.

Seomyeon is the crossroads of Busan. The local subway station serves two lines and is one of the busiest in the city. The local head offices of Korean and international banks are located in Seomyeon. It is recognized as the ascendant shopping and entertainment district. Directly adjacent to Seomyeon is Bujeon Market, the largest traditional market in the city.

The Gwangbok-dong, Nampo-dong, and Jungang-dong areas form the old central business district. Some of the restaurants in this district are locally famous with family recipes passed down the generations. Jagalchi Market (near part of the very active port) is an area of narrow street stalls and is well known for its fish market. The Gukje Market is also located nearby. Jungang-dong is the home of many international law offices, the old Immigation Office, and the international ferry terminal serving Japanese routes. Lotte World II is currently under construction along the water between Jungang-dong.

Parks, Beaches, and Resorts

Geumjeongsan to the west is a popular weekend hiking spot for Busan residents. To the north, the neighborhoods around Pusan National University (also known as PNU, which is one of the most highly recognized national institutes of high education in Korea) have student theaters, cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as open-air cultural street performances on weekend nights. Nearby is Beomeosa, the city's main Korean Buddhist temple.

Dongnae area is a traditional as well as wealthy residential area. Dongnae Oncheon is a natural spa area with many baths, tourist hotels, restaurants, clubs and shopping areas. Many restaurants in the area are famous for their family recipes. Chungnyeolsa is a Confucian shrine for soldiers who died during the sixteenth century battle against the Japanese at Dongnae Fortress.

Busan is called the summer capital of Korea since it attracts tourists from all over the country to its six beaches. Luxury hotels and a carnival boardwalk line the beach at Haeundae. Gwangalli Beach is famous for its cafes, bars, and restaurants along the beach, and the Grand Gwangan Bridge. The area around Pukyong National University and Kyungsung University has many cafes, bars and restaurants attracting college students and youth.

Taejongdae, is a natural park with magnificent cliffs facing the open sea on the island of Yeongdo.

The area known as the "Foreigners' Shopping Street", but commonly referred to as "Texas Street" near part of the Port of Busan, has many businesses that cater to the local Russian population, as well as the crews of foreign ships. The area was originally the location of the local Chinatown and still contains a Chinese school. Because of the Chinese presence, the area was designated to serve as the commercial and entertainment needs of American soldiers, and businesses were set up there during the 1940s and 1950s to cater to them.



Artificial Intelligence

South Korea is a world leader in the development and adoption of advanced robotics technology and has an ambitious plan to put a robot in every household by 2020. Several robot cities are about to be constructed in the country, with the first city being built in 2009 at a cost of 500 billion won, of which 50 billion is direct government investment. The new robot city will feature research and development centers for manufacturers and part suppliers, as well as exhibition halls and a stadium for robot competitions.

The government is also investing another $1.3 billion to build two new robot theme parks in Incheon and Masan by 2013, which will be developed as centres for the country's robot industry, featuring a number of attractions that allow visitors to interact with robots and test new products. The country's new Robotics Ethics Charter will establish ground rules and laws for human interaction with robots in the future, setting standards for robotics users and manufacturers, as well as guidelines on ethical standards to be programmed into robots to prevent human abuse of robots and vice versa.

Faced with a critically low birth rate and an aging population, the country is quickly turning to robots to replace disappearing workers and loss of military manpower. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology developed the world's second walking humanoid robot, HUBO. In 2005, KAIST announced they had created the world's smartest robot, able to think and learn like a human. It is the first network based humanoid in the world taking advantage of South Korea's advanced communication network. In 2006, South Korean scientists from the Korea University of Science and Technology unveiled the world's second female android, Ever-1, capable of expressing human emotions.

Its successors are expected to walk, sing and dance, to be used in department stores and museums, as well as reading stories to children. Engineers from Samsung Techwin revealed in 2006 the Intelligent Surveillance and Guard Robot, a machine-gunned sentry robot able to detect and repel intruders along the heavily armed border with North Korea.



Shopping in Seoul

Seoul is a heaven for shoppers with numerous mega-shopping centers. You can really shop till you drop. Seoul is famous for high quality goods coupled with excellent and reasonable prices.Only one caution: be prepared for large and massive crowds. Usually people including most tourists are polite, but there can be some pushing and shoving at times in and around the major shopping areas.

Namdaemun (The Great South Gate) Market

The downtown Namdaemun Market, the biggest traditional market in Korea (covers about 10 acres), offers everything from ginseng to kimchi to military uniforms. Among the popular items for tourists are clothes, shoes, fabrics, tableware, flowers, ginseng products, toys, and watches. It is a world-famous shopping paradise and an attraction that tourists should not miss. Most shops have their own factories and make the products themselves offering both wholesale and retail at an extremely low prices. Prices are generally 10% to 20% lower than prices at other markets. Hours vary by store, so it's advisable to plan out in advance according with a shopping list before you start the actual shopping. Wholesalers operate from midnight to 6:00 a.m., and retailers are open from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Although most retailers close their stores on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month, many street vendors operate stalls in the alleys. Near the main street to the north of the market there is also an extensive underground arcade. Visitors can get travel information and interpretation guide service in English and Japanese for free.

Yongsan Electronics Market

Yongsan Electronics Market was formed by a host of small electronic dealers and has since developed into the greatest electronic shopping town in the East. It covers a whopping 78,650 square meters in size. It has more than 7,000 shops in 24 shopping centers which includes Electronics Land, Najin, Seonin, Wonhyo and a computer wholesale center. Visitors to this shopping town can enjoy shopping for almost all kinds of the latest electronic products and components, including computers, games and lighting equipment. The prices are about 10 to 30% cheaper for Korean made products, while imported items can go as low as 50% lower than elsewhere. Also, it is possible to receive larger discounts at the beginning of the year, at the beginning of the school year or during holidays. Most major stores are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.


One of the most famous shopping streets in Seoul, Shinch'on is located within walking distance of 4 universities. The are restaurants, cafes, cinemas and night clubs filled with youths wearing the latest fashions. It was a wild place to be on eve of public holidays.


If you're shopping for antiques, Insa-dong is the place. It's a narrow street lined with antique stores, art galleries and secondhand bookstores. Dubbed "Mary's Alley" by foreigner to Seoul, Insa-dong is the best place to purchase antiques, reproductions, calligraphy, paintings, and a wide variety of implements and articles from Korea's past. Traditional teahouses and art galleries are also concentrated in this area.


Itaewon is famous for bargain hunting. If you like to dig through piles of junk to find hidden treasures, this is the place to go. Here you can find branded goods which were rejected for export at very attractive prices. These items are not bad in quality, they just are of irregular or odd sizes.


Apkujong-South of the river (Kangnam) is a place of fashion. It`s the land of upscale Department Stores, funky cool boutiques and luxury branded shops. This is the happening place for the latest in fashion. If you have the money, they have the goods!

Techno Mart

Techno Mart, a large shopping center, is occupied by more than 2,000 electronic shops located from the 1st to 8th floor. You can purchase electronic products, computers, sound systems, communication equipment, CDs and much more. Prices here tend to be 10% to 20% lower than other places.

Offering a variety of goods from the antiques to the latest in fashion and pricing ranging from bargain prices to top end exclusive prices, Seoul is truly a heaven for shoppers.



Comfortable Accommodation at Hotels in Korea

Korea, one of the oldest continuous civilizations, has a distinct cultural identity that cannot be absorbed by its larger neighboring countries. Music, crafts, ceramics and painting form a group of excellent traditional Korean arts. Musicians have a remarkable stamina of singing continuously for more than eight hours. Marvelously crafted items deserve appreciation. Korea is not only famous for its rich culture, but also for its natural beauty, which had attracted myriad of tourist and had made it a tourist destination.

The appreciated increase in the number of tourists had led to the establishment of hotels in Korea, ranging from luxury hotels to cheap Korea hotels. They offer comfortable accommodation with several facilities and amenities to satisfy their clients. They also serve their visitors with recreational facilities to add fun and excitement to their trip. Many of these hotels are situated in proximity to tourists’ destinations Seoul, the capital and largest city of South Korea covers the second largest metropolitan area. It includes various temples, parks, gardens and outdoor attractions that had made this place a tourist favorite spot. As far as their lodging is concerned, Seoul hotels have offered them comfortable accommodations with all the required facilities. Some favorite tourists’ spots around Seoul are :

Gyeongbokgung Palace - it is the jewel of Seoul’s five historic palaces. National museum, gardens, ponds, apartments and staterooms are some of the excellent architectural features of rectangular palace.

Namsangol Hanaok Village - it comes as a surprise amidst skyscrapers. Visitors can enjoy traditional tea, shops, crafts and hand made products in this peaceful village in the center of city.

Lotte world - it is the main theme park in Seoul that is filled with fun and thrill. The park has two sub divisions- indoor and outdoor. The inner section contains ‘Adventure land’ that contains streets representing different countries and their activities, entertainments, shops etc… The outdoor section contains Magic Island with castle that offer high altitudes rides, pleasant walking trial around a lake.

There are many attractions within the Korea that have attracted tourist from across the world. Some of them are :

Bulguk-sa Temple - it is one of the great Buddhist temple that was recognized as an international cultural property.

Samjeon Grotto Temple - these temple areas have been declared as cultural property of the country. It is also Buddhist temple having a spectacular sight perched on top of a hill.

Jiri-san National Park - the part of three provinces of Korea is composed of streams, peaks, waterfalls and rivers. These national parks exhibit country’s inner beauty and charm.

There are many hotels in Korea that are located around these main tourists attraction for the convenience and enjoyment of travelers.



Hotels in South Korea – in Proximity to Tourist's Attractions

South Korea, known as the ‘land of the morning calm’ occupies the southern half of the Korean peninsula. It is a major economic power and one of the wealthiest countries in Asia. It is 13th largest country in the world and fourth largest country in Asia. Not only this, but it has 6th armed force and 10th largest defense budget in the world. It is one of the leading centers of industries in the world; let it be science and technology, infrastructure or information technology. It is neither lagging behind in steel production, Shipbuilding, automobile production nor in refining industry. The storehouse of so many industries and features is also a choice of tourists.

The most famous historical tourist attractions in South Korea include Seoul, Gyeongju and Buyeo. There are many landmarks, peaks, caves, islands and beaches that have attracted tourist from the world across and for their accommodation, hotels in South Korea has brought up remarkable developments with several facilities and amenities. The most popular cultural hub in South Korea is its capital city, Seoul, which is one among the top 20 world class cities. Seoul has many tourist attractions such as 63 building, which is one of the tallest buildings around Han River. It is multi-tourists complex with varies ways to gather fun and excitement. It is even known as the ‘Golden tower’. Its observation tower gives you a clear view of surrounding city and the Incheon Sea.

Achasanseong fortress is one of the places worth viewing. Similarly there are many tourists attraction in the city and many Seoul hotels in the center of the city or around famous tourists’ attractions. Many of these hotels provide rooms with mountain or river view along with well maintained cleanliness and in-room facilities.

Kwangju, the 6th largest city in South Korea, is also one of the major economic and political centers of South Korea. It is also known as the city of art in Korea because of the famous Art Street, which consist of many stores specialize in art supplies, traditional and modern paintings and high quality ceramics pottery. The National Museum and the National Cemetery are other places of interest in the city. All these have attracted tourists and gave foothold to Kwangju Hotels in the country.

Similarly there are many hotels in South Korea that are established in the center of its main cities and offer excellent accommodation to tourists. They are famous for their attentive service and warm hospitality. It ranges from luxurious hotels to cheap hotels in South Korea that can suit the taste and budget of every need.



Taking a Tour of Busan

Busan, also spelled as Pusan, is the second largest city in South Korea, after Seoul. Situated in South Gyeongsang, Busan has a population of nearly eight million people. As the nation's major as well as the largest sea port, Busan has a plethora of sea routes that serve as gateways to Japan as well as to the other prominent parts of the world.

Lying adjacent to the Korean Straits and Japan, this bustling city is also credited to be the first international city in Korea, and connects continents such as Asia, North America, and Europe. Located on the coast of the East Sea, Busan boasts of a stunning landscape comprising beautiful shorelines, gorgeous beaches, secluded islets, towering mountains, and lush green areas. Hence, it is not a wonder why Busan is sometimes referred to as 'the San Francisco of Korea'.

From towers, forts, and shrines to scenic attractions covering hot springs, Busan presents a host of attractions for people touring the place. In other words, sightseeing in Busan has been categorized into such as seashore sightseeing and interior land sightseeing.

Included in the seashore sightseeing are incredible islands and beaches such as Haeundae, Songjeong, and Gwangalli Beach. All of these beaches are a haven for enjoying a number of water sport activities such as jet skiing, boating, diving, banana boat rides, and much more. When comes to the interior land sightseeing, it covers downtown Busan, interesting museums, ancient shrines, historical monuments as well as ruins, stadiums, and cultural centers.

Some of the most popular museums in the area are Fisheries Museum, which is the first of its kind in the museum; Busan Marine Natural History Museum - the country's largest marine natural history museum; Busan Museum of Modern Art, which has on display artworks done by artists of Busan as well as Yungnam areas; Korean Tea Museum, exhibiting more than 100 varieties of teas; and Suyeong Historical Relics Folk Art Center, which contains such cultural displays as Suyoung Nonchong-nori and Jwasuyoungbang-nori.

If you are a spiritual traveler, then your trip to Busan would not be complete without taking a tour to such shrines in the area as SamGwang Temple, which is one of the most remarkable Buddhist shrines in the area; Tongdosa Temple, which is probably the prominent of all Buddhist temples in the country; and Beomeosa Temple Complex, with a Buddhist nunnery. Equally fabulous is the historical sites in the country such as Kumjongsanong, which is the country's largest walled mountain fortress. A segment of a park, the fortress is attached with a Buddhist Temple, apart from several pavilions and botanical gardens.

Further, your visit to Busan would be incomplete without taking a visit to some of its beautiful parks and gardens such as Busan Aquarium - a marine park featuring more than 250 species of marine animals; Yongdusan Park, which is one of the most scenic areas in the city with more than 70 species of trees; Olympic Park, which is a treasure trove of several magnificent sculptures.

Geumgang Botanical Garden, one of the largest botanical gardens in the country; and UN Memorial Park, which commemorates the soldiers of more than 15 countries who sacrificed their lives in the Korean War. For those looking for fun-filled vacation, Busan comes with a number of amusement parks like APEC Theme Park; Amusement Garden in Grand Children's Park; Taejongdae Amusement Park; and Jayu Land.

Other not to miss attractions in Busan are the Busan Tower, which is about 118 meters high and located within Yongdusan Park; Jalgalchi Fish Market, a must-visit spot in the city; Tongnae Hot Springs, boasting of two huge pools, of which one is hot spring water and another with cold water; Dongbaek Island, an ancient island which is home to camellias as well as pine trees; and Dalmaji Hill, a picturesque area located to the southeast of Haeundae Beach. Above all, Busan hosts a variety of festivals and events including sea festivals, fishing festivals, polar bear swimming festival, tourism festival, and film festival.

In short, Busan has everything for an enjoyable vacation. Hence, in order to cater to the growing number of tourists, Busan boasts of a number of accommodation options. Many of the top notch hotels and resorts in the area allow tourists to choose from a variety of rooms such as standard, deluxe, apartment style, and suits.



Get Intimate with Asia

South Korea is one of the smaller nations in Asia, with a size comparable to the state of Indiana. What it lacks in size it makes up for in abundant culture, turbulent history, exquisite cuisine and a generous and welcoming society.

If you want to experience South Korea's rich culture, history, and cuisine, be sure to find discount airfare to Korea. cFares is a great place to find deals on wholesale travel to Korea. cFares offers amazing travel deals and discount airfare to Korea that just can't be found anywhere else. So if you looking to book a flight to Korea but want the best deal possible, check out cFares for discount airfare to Korea. Wholesale travel to Korea is the answer to finding the best travel deal.

A Little Background before You Travel to Korea

The Korean peninsula has been literally and figuratively stuck between a rock and a hard place, namely Japan and China, for most of its existence. The region was prosperous under the three kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla during the first four centuries AD until the Mongolians raided the land and built an empire. The 16th century brought the end of the Mongolian Empire and the beginning of a massive game of tug-of-war between China and Japan over the strategic landmass. After World War II Korea finally broke free from Japan, with the USSR managing the North and the United States occupying the South. Today the North and South are two sovereign nations separated by a demilitarized zone. South Korea is officially known as the Republic of Korea (ROK) and commonly referred to simply as Korea.

There's still Soul in Seoul

Despite the fact that Seoul was largely burned to the ground during the Korean War (1950-53), the northern part of the capital city is still home to hundreds of spectacular palaces and shrines. The Chosun Dynasty's Gyeongbokgung Palace is a 5.4 million square foot landmark with a 500-year history and stands among the remaining four palaces in Seoul. Nearly an entire day is necessary to explore the regal palace in all its magnificence. The Jongmyo Royal Shrine is a perfect next stop, as it was where the Chosun Dynasty worshipped. On the first Sunday of May each year a traditional memorial ceremony is held at the Shrine with all the grandeur of the occasion 500 years past.

The southern part of Seoul is the commercial center of the city and boasts a fascinating blend of traditional and hyper-modern architecture. It is also home to World Cup Stadium, intricately weaving shopping streets and even an amusement park, Lotte World. Make sure to visit the city gates, and then venture beyond into the strikingly lush and green landscape to travel Korea more personally.

When to Travel to Korea

Korea has a temperate clime, which results in heavier rain in the summer months (July and August) and a drier winter. Winter is white and snowy all over Korea and the ski season from November to March is extremely popular. There are 13 ski resorts in South Korea alone! After a day on the slopes it is common to relax in one of the many spas with natural hot spring baths. Summer is extremely crowded and very wet in Korea. For milder weather it is best to travel Korea in the spring or fall.

Traveling to South Korea any time of year is sure to be an exciting and rewarding experience, regardless of the weather!

For additional information on travel to Korea and other parts of Asia, visit.



Discover the Charms of Seoul

The biggest as well as the capital city of the Republic of Korea (South Korea,) Seoul is an intriguing destination, situated in the mid western region of the Korean Peninsula, on the Han River, near the North Korean border, otherwise known as the de-militarised zone (DMZ), which in turn is a buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea. Spread over an area of 605 sq km, Seoul has been designated with the status of a Special City, and is directly under the administration of the national government.

Seoul's history dates back to as early as 18 BC when Paekche Kingdom made Wiryeseong, which is today's southeastern Seoul, as its capital. Later, Seoul became the capital of the Goryeo era during the 11th century. Seoul was then known as Southern Capital, which was later renamed Hanyang in 1394 when the Joseon dynasty made Seoul its capital.

In 1948, Seoul became the capital city of South Korea. Additionally, Seoul witnessed several wars and destruction during various phases of its history. But, Seoul has been now transformed into an international destination, with a sound commerce and sports scene. Despite its modern soaring buildings and sophisticated expressways, Seoul still retains its old world charm.

For those who want to enjoy the traditional culture of Korea, a visit to Seoul's Insa-dong would be a great experience. Situated in the middle of the city, Insa-dong is an exciting as well as colorful place with alleys on either site.

All of the alleys seen here are packed with traditional restaurants and teahouses, cafes, and shops, where both traditional and precious items are put for sale. It is also home to a number of interesting art galleries such as Gana Art Gallery, Gana Art Center, and Hakgojae Gallery, which is the center of folk art. One of the best ways to tour these galleries is via the Art Center Bus, which takes you to more than 10 much famed art galleries in the region.

Of the marvelous attractions in Seoul that deserve a special mention is the Gyeongbok Palace, also known as Northern Palace. Built in 1395 by Taejo Seonggye Lee of the Joseon Dynasty, Gyeongbok is perhaps the most beautiful of all palaces in the area.

Sprawling over an area of 495,000 the palace's highlights cover Geunjeongjeon - the main hall, Gyeonghoeru - the banquet pavilion, and Hyangwonjeong, which is island developed within a pond. Also, within the palace is the National Folk Museum, with some rare artifacts.

Another fabulous palace in Seoul is Deoksugung, which has to its credit an amazing mix of temples and gardens. Also, a great palace in the area is Changdeokgung Palace, which still serves as the residence of Royals. However, a guided tour is the required to take a visit to Changdeokgung Palace, the oldest palace in the city. Seoul's incredible attractions also include a variety of ancient shrines and pagodas, such as Chongmyo Shrine and Chogyesa Temple. A specialty is that many of the shrines in Seoul are graced with beautiful Buddhist art.

Your visit to Seoul would not be complete without taking a tour to Dongdaemun Market, which is dubbed as the 'Mecca of Fashion.' With a large collection of shopping malls, Dongdaemun Market is a place to shop a full range of clothing items and that too at cheap prices. Both retail and wholesale shops can be seen here, and few among them are Freya Town, Doosan Tower, Migliore, Designer's Club, Nuzzon, Migliore Valley, and Gwanghee Fashion Mall. Also, found in the vicinity is Dongdaemun Stadium, which is a great place to shop sporting materials.

Another popular market place in the area is Namdaemun Market, where everything from men and women's apparels, children's wear, and shoes to kitchenware, indigenous items, and imported goods can be shopped. Since this market area has such a great number of shopping malls, it is recommended to plan in advance prior to shopping.

A must-see attraction in Seoul is Mt. Namsan, a 252 m mountain located in the heart of the city. Mt Namsan and its surrounding areas have been maintained as a public park. Among the highlights of this symbolic mountain are the Palgakjeong Pavilion, Seoul Tower, Namsan Library, and a marine aquarium, and a botanical garden. You can reach the summit either via the hiking trail or through a cable car ride. Namsangol Traditional Korean Village is close to the mountain.

Other not to miss attraction in the area are War Memorial, National Theater, Korea House, Myong-dong Catholic Cathedral, Sejong Cultural Center, and Sejong Cultural Center.



North Korea on Vacation

A country that is so deeply rooted in history is a place that all of us want to visit at some point during our lives. North Korea, the other name for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is situated in East Asia and its capital is Pyongyang. South Korea, which has been separated from North Korea by the Demilitarized zone, is a country formed post the World War II. The closest neighbour to North Korea is Japan and China.

This is a country that grew tremendously post the World war and has not stopped in its efforts. It continues to dazzle the visitors with their culture and local traditions. Among the various things to see, here is a list of five things one should not miss while travelling in this part of the world.

Take a plane from the capital city of Pyongyang to reach Paekdusan, which is a place of great spiritual and religious significance. Paekdu, which is the highest mountain in North Korea, is also where the volcano with the largest crater lies. Called as Chonji, or Lake of Heaven, this crater is surrounded by various lakes. This place is very sacred to the locals, merely because it is here that the Son of Lord of heaven is said to have landed and where the first Korean Kingdom started.

Panmunjeom is a war related sight, this place is very popular with tourists who are keen on seeing the place where the war took place and which resulted in split in Korea. Panmunjeom is a place where anyone visiting Korea will be taken to, even though it is a sad place, which talks of all the lives lost during the war and how American imperialism affected Korea.

The pristine water falls, and the clear skies around the mountain ranges surrounding Myohyang make the visit worth the time. Myohyangsan, literally translates to mountain of mysterious Fragrance is filled with scenery and sights like nowhere else in the world. The main focus of this trip would be to visit the two shrines, one of which is a treasure chest of gifts given to Kim II Sung, and other is that of Kim Jong II. One can also walk around the beautiful mountains, and unwind.

Going along the Diamond mountains, otherwise referred to locally as the Kumgangsan, one can make their way to Koryong falls. Quite a walk awaits people who wish to get to the falls, so be prepared for a long trek up the hills, and this can prove quite challenging for some, if they are not physically fit. But the sights along the way are breath taking and truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Nampo is a place that has become the industrial center in North Korea is worth a visit to see how the industries function. The amount of hard work and labour that goes into the businesses is what helps the economy grow fast and flourishes with time.



The Imperium Art


Apart from the instruments used, traditional Korean music is characterized by improvisation and the lack of breaks between movements. A pansori performance can last for over eight hours during which a single singer performs continuously.

Rather than contrasting different speeds as it is common in Western music, most traditional Korean music begins with the slowest movement and then accelerates as the performance continues.

Korean court music, called jeongak, is closely related to the literate upper-class, and has a strong intellectual emphasis. Jeongak is played at a very slow pace, with single beats taking as long as three seconds. The beat matches the speed of breathing rather than the heartbeat as in most Western music, and feels static and meditative.

The tone of Jeongak is soft and tranquil because the traditional instruments are made of non-metallic materials. String instruments have strings made of silk rather than wire. Almost all wind instruments are made of bamboo.

Pungmul is Korea's folk music and is full of expressions and emotions. This kind of traditional music is closely related to the lives of common people. As with the Jeongak, improvisation is common in Minsogak.

Traditional Korean musical instruments can be divided into wind, string, and percussion types. Wind instruments include the piri (cylindrical oboe), taepyeongso (metal-bell shawm), daegeumsaenghwang (mouth organ) and the hun (ocarina). Traditional string instruments include zithers such as the gayageum, geomungo, and ajaeng, and the haegeum, a two-stringed fiddle.

A great number of traditional percussion instruments are used including the kkwaenggwari (hand-held gong), the jing (hanging gong), buk (barrel drum), janggu, (hourglass drum), bak (clapper), and pyeonjong (bell chimes or stone chimes), as well as the eo (tiger-shaped scraper) and the chuk (wooden box).


As with music, there is a distinction between court dances and folk dances. Common court dances are jeongjaemu performed at banquets, and ilmu, performed at Confucian rituals. Jeongjaemu is divided into native dances (hyangak jeongjae) and forms imported from China (dangak jeongjae). Ilmu are divided into civil dance (munmu) and military dance (mumu).

Religious dances include all the performances at shamanistic rites (gut). Secular dances include both group dances and individual performances.

Traditional choreography of court dances is reflected in many contemporary productions.


Sites of residence are traditionally selected using geomancy. It is believed that any topographical configuration generates invisible forces of good or ill (gi). The negative and positive energies (yin and yang) must be brought into balance.

A house should be built against a hill and face south to receive as much sunlight as possible. This orientation is still preferred in modern Korea. Geomancy also influences the shape of the building, the direction it faces and the material it is built of.

Traditional Korean houses can be structured into an inner wing (anchae) and an outer wing (sarangchae). The individual layout largely depends on the region and the wealth of the family. Whereas aristocrats used the outer wing for receptions, poorer people kept cattle in the sarangchae. The wealthier a family, the larger the house. However, it was forbidden to any family except for the king to have a residence of more than 99 kan. A kan is the distance between two pillars used in traditional houses.

The inner wing normally consisted of a living room, a kitchen and a wooden-floored central hall. More rooms may be attached to this. Poorer farmers would not have any outer wing. Floor heating (ondol) has been used in Korea for centuries. The main building materials are wood, clay, tile, stone, and thatch. Because wood and clay were the most common materials used in the past not many old buildings have survived into present times. Japan's kidnapping of an entire city known for its castle building skills built Japan's most famous castles and palaces, an act which the Japanese government has formally accepted and apologized for.


The principles of temple gardens and private gardens are the same. They generally resemble gardens in China, and the Japanese in turn adopted a similar garden layout from Korea. Part of the reason is because gardening in East Asia is heavily influenced by Taoism. Taoism emphasizes nature and mystery, paying great attention to the details of the layout. In contrast to Japanese and Chinese gardens which fill a garden with man made elements, traditional Korean gardens avoid artificialities, trying to make a garden more natural than nature.

The lotus pond is an important feature in the Korean garden. If there is a natural stream, often a pavilion is built next to it, allowing the pleasure of watching the water. Terraced flower beds are a common feature in traditional Korean gardens.

The Poseokjeong site near Gyeongju was built in the Silla period. It highlights the importance of water in traditional Korean gardens. The garden of Poseokjeong features an abalone-shaped watercourse. During the last days of the Silla kingdom, the king's guests would sit along the watercourse and chat while wine cups were floated during banquets.


Rice is the staple food of Korea. Having been an almost exclusively agricultural country until recently, the essential recipes in Korea are shaped by this experience. The main crops in Korea are rice, barley, and beans, but many supplementary crops are used. Fish and other seafood are also important because Korea is a peninsula.

Fermented recipes were also developed in early times. These include pickled fish and pickled vegetables. This kind of food provides essential proteins and vitamins during the winter.

A number of menus have been developed. These can be divided into ceremonial foods and ritual foods. Ceremonial foods are used when a child reaches 100 days, at the first birthday, at a wedding ceremony, and the sixtieth birthday. Ritual foods are used at funerals, at ancestral rites, shaman's offerings and as temple food.

Temple food is distinguished as it does not use the common five strong-flavoured ingredients of Korean cuisine (garlic, spring onion, wild rocambole, leek, and ginger), nor meat.

For ceremonies and rituals rice cakes are vital. The colouring of the food and the ingredients of the recipes are matched with a balance of yin and yang.

Today, surasang (traditional court cuisine) is available to the whole population. In the past vegetable dishes were essential, but meat consumption has increased. Traditional dishes include ssambap, bulgogi, sinseollo, kimchi, bibimbap, and gujeolpan.


The original religion of the Korean people was Shamanism, which though not as widespread as in ancient times, still survives to this day. Female shamans or mudang are often called upon to enlist the help of various spirits to achieve various means.

Buddhism and Confucianism were later introduced to Korea through cultural exchanges with China. Buddhism was the official religion of the Goryeo dynasty, and many privileges were given to Buddhist monks during this period. However, the Joseon period saw the suppression of Buddhism, where Buddhist monks and temples were banned
from the cities and confined to the countryside. In its place a strict from of Confucianism, which some see as even more strict that what had ever been adopted by the Chinese, became the official philosophy.

Even today, Confucianism still plays a major role Korean society, and respect for elders is still a major part of Korean family life. Throughout Korean history and culture, regardless of separation; the influence of traditional beliefs of Korean Shamanism, Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism have remained an underlying religion of the Korean people as well as a vital aspect of their culture, all these traditions coexisted peacefully for hundred years to today despite of stronger Westernization from Christian missionary conversions in the South or the pressure from Communism's atheist government in the North.

Kumsusan Memorial Palace

The final resting place of Kim il-Sung is only open on Fridays and Sundays. Sunday's will no doubt be busy with locals paying their respects to Kim il-Sung on their one and only day off. It is customary to dress in formal clothes, being a shirt and tie for men, or a respective dress for women.

After waiting in line, standing in rows that are 4-wide, your group will be escorted inside. Bags and cameras will be required to be deposited at the counter prior to entry.

There are hundreds of meters of moving walkways that navigate through the enormous compound that is now a mausoleum. Once in the room of the glass display with Kim's body, groups of four will advance one at a time.

It is custom that people bow at Kim's feet. Then move to the left (Kim's right), and bow again. Then walk around his head (no bow here), and bow one last time along Kim's left side.

Once outside of the building, you may take your camera and take photos.

The Ryugyong Hotel : unfinished "Hotel of Doom"

The tallest structure in P'yongyang has sat unfinished and dormant for nearly 20 years. The pyramid-shaped hotel, which would have rivaled any hotel in any major city, has been left as a shell for all to see. The 105 story building has sat dormant with rusting tower crane stuck in position since the Soviet Union disbanded in 1992, because they were the ecomonic benafactor for constrution.

Back in 1988, Seoul hosted the Olympic Games. P'yongyang believed that in good faith since they are also "Korea", that the South would have placed some of the events in P'yongyang's venues. This hotel was initiated to host the world for the Games. But once the government learned that the Games would not be shared, the project was put on hold.

To this day, the tower crane remains in position as it was 20 years ago. There are no windows, no utilities, no lights, nothing... It is a ghost structure. For that reason, it sometimes is called the "Ghost Hotel", or the "Hotel of Doom".

Grand People's Study House

This is a library for everybody. This is at least what they say. The rooms were packed with students, reading in old books, studying the Juche Ideology or simply study their major. As we have been in winter time and there is no heating, all students were wrapped in tons of clothes and it was still very freezing in there. They do have some books from abroad and they are supposed to have "every book that has been published in the 90's worldwide". To prove, they showed us some german books, which were published around the 50's and 60's and even those have never been seen from the students.

The building itself looks very beautiful from the outside. It is held in a traditional korean style with green roof.


Contemporary Culture

There is a vast cult of personality around Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il and much of North Korea's literature, popular music, theater, and film glorify the two men.

A popular event in North Korea is the Mass Games. The most recent and largest Mass Games was called "Arirang". It was performed six nights a week for two months, and involved over 100,000 performers. Attendees to this event in recent years report that the anti-West sentiments have been toned down compared to previous performances. The Mass Games involve performances of dance, gymnastic, and choreographic routines which celebrate the history of North Korea and the Workers' Party Revolution. The Mass Games are held in Pyongyang at various venues (varying according to the scale of the Games in a particular year) including the May Day Stadium.

Culture is officially protected by the North Korean government. Large buildings committed to culture have been built, such as the People's Palace of Culture or the Grand People's Palace of Studies, both in Pyongyang. Outside the capital, there's a major theatre in Hamhung and in every city there are State-run theatres and stadiums.

Korean culture came under attack during the Japanese rule from 1910-1945. Japan enforced a cultural assimilation policy. Koreans were forced to learn and speak Japanese, adopt the Japanese family name system and Shinto religion, and forbidden to write or speak the Korean language in schools, businesses, or public places. In addition, the Japanese altered or destroyed various Korean monuments including Gyeongbok Palace and documents which portrayed the Japanese in a negative light were revised.

In July 2004, the Complex of Goguryeo Tombs became the first site in the country to be included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

In February 2008, The New York Philharmonic Orchestra became the first US musical group ever to perform in North Korea, albeit for a handpicked "invited audience".



Jeju Island

We are offering you another wonderful weekend opportunity for you to see the beauty and history of Jeju Do. We will be full-time tourists, visiting a folk village and seeing the beautiful spring flowers that will be in full bloom and so much more.

After our arrival we will head to Seonyeo and Namuggun, a place where we can see replicas of city and country life from the 1960s and 70s as well as daily tools and utensils in use at that time. Outside, there is a gorgeous garden displaying many species of plants and flowers.

After a bit of history, we will head to a horse stable where we will all have the chance to enjoy trekking and feel the wind in our faces.

Following the horse riding we will have delicious black pork BBQ (famous in Jeju Do) for lunch. Then head to Udo (Cow Island).

After a quick 15 minute ferry ride to Udo, we can witness some of the most beautiful scenery in Jeju, such as the superb views that over look Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak) and the whole of Jeju Island. We will hike up to the lighthouse and then down to the beaches to look at the Haenyeo (women divers) that are known for their great physical stamina.

They dive without scuba gear for abalone, conch and a myriad of other marine products, staying underwater for up to 2 minutes at a time, and reaching depths of 20 metres. Our final tourist stop for the day will be one of Korea’s folk villages, where we can see first hand what Jeju and other parts of Korea were like several hundred years ago. Many of the buildings have been relocated from other parts of South Korea, fully intact. Some are 200-300 years old.

At night we will be the only people staying in a beautiful hotel by the sea. Here you will have the chance to relax with you new AK friends and talk about the wonderful sites and experiences of the day. On Sunday we will start with a trip to Halla Botanical Gardens, to check out what Jeju has to offer us in plant species. Due to its temperate climate Jeju can boast a variety of flora from all over the world, both rare and common species that doesn’t grow in other parts of Korea.

Our second stop will be Mt. Songak where you can get a view of Marado Island; the southernmost island in South Korea. The island is remarkably flat. We may also get to see some lava tubes. Lunch will (haemultang), a seafood stew. After which we will visit a tea farm and see how tea is grown, harvested and prepared to make tea. We may even get to sample some green tea.

Next on the list we will be watching a Chinese acrobatic and motorbike show, where we will see stunning acrobatic performances, plus motorbike tricks. Our final stop before heading to the airport is Hallim Park. Not only does it offer everything for a botanical enthusiast but it also has a 500m walk through a lava tube cave Hyeopchaegul).



Beautiful Pyongyang

Traffic has been increasing on the once-empty streets of this extraordinary capital. That said, little else has changed in Pyongyang (‘flat land’) over the last couple of decades. The city remains an eerie, unchanging place of wide streets, endless grey and white Soviet-style blocks, vast monuments to the party and an all-female team of fetishistically-clad traffic wardens manually directing traffic with domineering zeal.

In the best possible tradition of Minsk and Ashgabat, Pyongyang rose from the ashes of destruction and as such was a tabula rasa for the Kim dictatorship to impose its worldview on. Mysterious and grey, Pyongyang is definitely one of the world’s strangest capitals, often wrapped in a thick mist and dominated by the immeasurably sinister and humungous pyramid of the unfinished Ryugyong Hotel.

Every visit focuses heavily on Pyongyang –this is after all a city built to impress with a population of approved, privileged citizens and a slew of awe-inspiring sights your guides are happy to show you. It’s worth trying to get to know the city during your trip, as this is one of the few places you’ll have a chance to get to know in North Korea.

The guides will be falling over themselves to show you a succession of monuments, towers, statues, and buildings that apotheosise the Juche idea and propagate the achievements of the Kim regime. These include the Tower of the Juche Idea, the Chollima Statue and the Mansudae Grand Monument, a vast rendering of the Great Leader in bronze, to which every visitor is expected to pay floral homage.

While these are all impressive, if surreal, the real delights of Pyongyang are to be had in the quieter moments when you can get glimpses of everyday life. If possible, suggest walking between sights rather than driving, which the guides prefer. A gentle stroll on Pyongyang’s relatively relaxed Moran Hill, for example, will reveal that the locals have picnics, play music and idle away sunny afternoons. Despite the best attempts of the Korean Workers’ Party, there is a semblance of normality surviving in the capital. You just have to look hard for it.



Introducing North Korea

North Korea still is one of the most reclusive countries of the world. Although there is a slight opening and some selected koreans are now allowed to visit their families in the south for a short day stay, visiting the country is still a highly organised operation for limited numbers of group tourists. Since access to North Korea is mainly via China, most visits are tacked on to China tours.

As you can see by this night satellite view of North Korea, in comparison to South Korea it's a happening place after dark.

More than 23 millions inhabitants live in this country. In comparisson, North Korea is slightly smaller than England and around 2000 square kilometers larger than South Korea. Most of its 120.540 sqkm territory is demilitarized zone, where you are not allowed to enter. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is situated on the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. It shares borders in the south with the demilitarized zone (separating it from the Republic of Korea, see South Korea), in the east with Japan (by sea), in the north with China and in the west with the Yellow Sea.

Following World War II, Korea was split into a northern, communist half and a southern, Western-oriented half. Kim Chong Il has ruled North Korea since his father and the country's founder, president Kim Il Sung, died in 1994. After decades of mismanagement, the North relies heavily on international food aid to feed its population. Most of the land, particularly on the north and east regions, consists mostly of rugged mountains, separated by deep, narrow valleys. Only a small area is cultivable or exploitable. The eastern coast is rocky and steep with mountains rising from the water, the western coast is characterized by coastal plains. The average climate is temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer. It is very similar to that of South Korea, but colder and drier in the winter. Rainy season is from July to September, but autumn is cooler. Winters are long and frigid while summers are hot, rainy and humid. The best time of the year to visit North Korea is during the months of May, June, September and October.

Redefining the term rogue state through its isolationism, controversial nuclear weapons programme and missile testing, North Korea is probably the most mysterious country in the world today and one almost entirely untouched by tourism. Off the beaten path seems too slight a term for a nation that admits fewer than 2000 Westerners a year, and whose overwhelming attraction is its isolation and backwardness. The capital, Pyongyang, has a few sites worth visiting and Paekdusan is considered one of the most stunning sights in North Korea.

Here the Kim dynasty, which began life as a Soviet-sponsored communist government in the 1950s, has evolved into a hereditary dictatorship owing far more to Confucianism than Marxism. The founder of the state, Kim Il Sung, may have died in 1994, but he is still the president of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the name locals prefer for their country). His son, a man who has only ever uttered one sentence in public (it was ‘Long Live the Victorious Korean People’s Army’ at a rally in Pyongyang in the early 1990s), continues to rule like a medieval monarch, an unknown quantity with nuclear weapons and a huge army at his beck and call, giving sleepless nights to governments in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington.

A trip to North Korea is strictly on its government’s terms, and it’s essential to accept that you’ll have no independence during your trip – you’ll be accompanied by two government-approved local guides at all times and only hear a very one-sided view of history throughout the trip. Those who can accept these terms will have a fascinating trip into another rather unsettling world. Simply to see a country where the Cold War is still being fought, where mobile phones and the internet are unknown, and where total obedience to the state is universally unquestioned is, for many, reason enough to visit.