Andong Road Trip

For a few days last week myself and herself decided to pack up our bags and get away from the hectic life we live in Korea (of course, we only got back from two and a half weeks from Ireland before that but that’s not important, is it?) . We went to Andong, which is an area on the east of Korea that is very mountainous, very rural, and also the hottest place in Korea at the momment. We didn’t know or even think about this last factor, the main objective was to get all our work tidied up in time by Monday night and get in the car and drive the next morning.This was achieved relatively easily, as was the research and booking of accomodation, as was the doing away with any reasonable excuse for not going (of which there were a few). Of course every journey has its problems and as a traveller it’s my responsibility to be prepared for any challanges that we might come across. A million and one different situations are probably flashing through your head right now, and if you don’t know what Korea is like (South Korea that is, random excurrsions are frowned upon in the North) you can probably double that number. Well there is nothing really to worry about because in terms of transport and communications there are few countries in the world with better networks and facilities than Korea. About a five minute drive from our front door is an expressway which can link you to pretty much anywhere else in the country in a few hours. Roads are smooth, well sign-posted and wide enough to take up more space than necessary while you swing around a tight bend. So how could there be any problems?

As I said we arrived back from Ireland about two days before. What I didn’t say was that it was at five o’clock in the morning Korean time and that we’d probably not really slept ‘properly’ and I’d worked for ten hours straight the day before. Well to cut a long story (or journey) short, a fair whack of it was spent asleep or trying to not fall asleep while driving or giving directions. Regardless of the head-banging we made it to Andong fairly safely.

One thing that we do, that is myself and my wife, when we get or go to a place is we try to eat as much of whatever they have that looks good! Andong like every other region in Korea is famous for some sort of dish,  and here they have delicious Djimdalk (more on this later), and funeral food, which is how it was described to me. Funeral food is what is says it is, the food that people eat at funerals, or more precisely the people of Andong found it appropriate to eat the traditional funeral fare all the time.


Andong's 'funeral food'

After devouring this after our four hour three hour drive through the mountains we decided to walk around in the blinding sunshine at around two in the afternoon. If you’ve ever been to Spain, for example, and wonder why nowhere is open during the middle of the day, well here is as good an example as any. Sure enough buildings have air conditioning, but outside doesn’t and here where humidity drains you as much on a cloudy day as on a sunny day, it’s high time a summer long all-day national siesta law was introduced. Maybe if we didn’t spend an hour and a half walking up down hillsides and through a folk village I wouldn’t have to demand this, but we did, and demand it we will!

Inallandanyways, we left there and went slowly to Hahoe Village (which incidentaly is pronounced nothing like it is spelt in English). If there is a more picturesque village in this country, then I would like you to show it to me. Yes, it is a bit of a tourist trap, but where isn’t these days? Before we went here we went into another side attraction and climbed up a little enscarpment for a view of the village, and despite the heat it was very manageable. The pictures below are testament to how worthwhile this little sidestep was!

Hahoe Village on the Nakdong River

Hahoe Village

On the opposite bank to Hahoe Village

 Below are some further photos of the village and our accomodation. It was a really nice place, very cool, very very chilled, but unfortunately it was also very very closed. Went out at half eight at night and nothing was open, in fact there was nothing there to be open. Next day was much better but they did have somewhere open where I could buy an ould cloth to dry the sweat off my face – lovely!

Outside the window of our minbak in Hahoe Village

Our minbak in Hahoe Village

Through the trees

A sidestreet in Hahoe Village

Lotus Pond in Hahoe Village

Nakdong River

The Nakdong River from the Hahoe Village side

The first recognised Confucist Accademy, just outside Hahoe Village.

 After this adventure we went back into Andong City for one reason and and one reason only! 


I suppose Djimmdalk is a chicken stew, with spuds, carrots and glass noodles made from sweet potato, lots of garlic, sugar, soy sauce and a few other bits and peices all added with skill and timing to result in a truly wonderful dish. The problem with this dish is that when you go for it in Seoul there are only a few places that do it, and they are usually chain restaurants that get in large quantities in bulk and then they heat it up on demand. You would be complaining if you waited longer than ten minutes for your serving (one is usually enough for three or for people), but how can you honestly cook potatoes and chicken all the way through freshly in ten minutes? Well here there no such messing around. We politely anticipated its arrival for over twenty minutes, and we were very, very, very satisfied!

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