Friday, October 9, 2009

Day Trip to Incheon

Under the advice of a couple of my coworkers, I went to Incheon today for a visit to 자유공워 (Freedom Park) and Wolmi waterfront recreation area. To get there, it's a matter of taking the Seoul line 1 train all the way to the terminus at Incheon station. Directly outside the exit (there's only one) you can't miss the gateway to Chinatown, the only such community (so I am told) in Korea.

It's a very small Chinatown, I have to say, but it makes the most of it, including this decorative trash/recycling center.

Stairs that might have led to a temple, but I'll never know. It's very hilly in Incheon, and I wasn't up for conjectural climbing.

Here are some of the pics I took in Chinatown, having fun with the camera:

You can buy lots of stuff here. I did make a purchase, a "chop" or seal with my name in hangeul. The Chinese girl typed it into the computer and the automated router did the rest, just like in the olden days.

In the middle of the main drag of Chinatown, you will find a traffic sign pointing up a massive incline (35°, honest) to Jayu kongwon, or Freedom Park. At the top of the road, have a rest at the First Missionary Memorial Park--you'll need it.

It consists of a few benches and this statuary thing, memorializing Henry Appenzeller and H.G. Underwood, founder of what became Yonsei University and author of Fifteen Years Among the Top-Knots. The Underwood family served in Korea for four generations and many are buried at the Foreign Missionary Cemetary. Oh, there's a First Missionary Memorial Cafe just around the corner.

I continued to the intersection near the top of the hill, where there was absolutely no sign directing you to Jayu Park. Not one. So I followed my instinct upward, where I found myself at the Korean Meteorological Service Incheon Station. There were no guards or anything, so I took a few pictures of the Stevenson screen and the various gauges and meters, then wandered inside.

A pair of nice young women enquired as to why I was there, and I explained. But while I'm here, I wondered, could I take a couple of pictures of Incheon from this amazing vantage point? Turns out I could, though it was clear this was a unique experience for them. They led me up a couple flights of stairs, unlocked the door, and accompanied me to the deck atop the building. Then I signed the visitor book and they directed me to Jayu Park.

Freedom Park is famous for two main things: the Korea-US Centennial Monument and the statue of US General Douglas MacArthur overlooking the site of the Incheon amphibious landing site of June 1950.

There was a little plaza in the park with a nice view of the harbor and a few concessionaires, which attract hungry visitors of the human and avian kind.

Off to one side, I found this. I have a book somewhere titled Yesterday's Tomorrows, images of what previous generations thought the future would be like--this old fellow could be the frontispiece:

Three shots of the Korea-US Centennial Monument, which recognizes 100 years of our friendship, a large angular thing with a small curvy thing in the middle:

A few shots of the MacArthur statue and its environs, which were populated by numerous older folks, possibly reliving the heady days of the war:

I made my way back down the hill and caught a bus (you can take 2, 23 or 45 from Incheon station) for Wolmido. Upon arrival in the mid-afternoon, it was kind of weird--a deserted (or nearly so) carnival is creepy.

It was a bit more populated along the waterfront, which mainly consists of seafood restaurants with Konglish names, interesting statuary, and old men with fishing poles:

Me and the West Sea. While much of the world calls it the Yellow Sea, those of us on the peninsula know better:


Foreigner Joy said...

Nice documentation of your trip.

조안나 said...

Actually, you didn't miss much by not climbing all those stairs... I remember them well... they lead to..... freedom park... just another entrance..... I didn't realize there was another way in....