A well-planned trip enables Yap Su-Yin to explore the South Korean city easily with an elderly in tow
DAEGU, the third largest city in South Korea with 2.5 million people, can be covered in a weekend getaway from Seoul.
With a 70-year-old companion in tow, I planned to fill our senses with unusual sights and sounds, packing in shopping and dining — without physically straining ourselves. Does the Korean drama Grandpas Over Flowers come to mind?
To the rescue came Daegu’s doubledecker City Tour bus, which operates a few routes (Daegu City Tour, Palgongsan Circulation Course and Theme Tour) at affordable rates. The City Tour hop-on-hop-off bus runs from 10am to 6pm daily, mostly within the central area. It starts at Dongdaegu Station, where tickets can be bought for just 5,000 won (S$6).
Our first stop on the two-hour City Tour route was Daegu Opera House. From this world-class cultural venue, the bus cruised to downtown Daegu, known as Dongsung-ro, where shopping, culture, dining and entertainment converge.
On local recommendation, we got off here to tuck into gimbap (rice rolls), udong (noodles) and jolmyeon (cold noodles) at the cosy Mijin Bunsik restaurant, where diners can order a la carte for under 4,000 won a dish.
I returned at nightfall to this fashionably eclectic street. It was buzzing with youthful energy, with buskers and street vendors out in full force.
Shops were adorned with images of popular Hallyu stars, such as Kim Soo- Hyun (Love From Another Star) for Samsonite, and Lee Min Ho and Yoona for Eider sportswear. Day or night, they look good.
Parks and markets
After a heavy meal, more athletic folk can consider making a 10-minute detour from Dongsung-ro to Gyeongsang- gamyeong Park.
If the weather is clear, continue on the bus to Duryu Park, also known as E-World. Considered the largest amusement park in Daegu, here is where you get a bird’s eye view of Daegu — that is, if your stamina takes you to the top of the 202m-tall 83 Tower.
But we planned exercise of a different sort. Our bus brought us to the largest traditional market in the city called Seomun Market, which has existed since the Joseon dynasty.
Sectioned into districts with different specialities, it is a visceral experience, with honking, haggling, dubious scents swirling in every corner.
Vendors sell a variety of items from fabrics to makchang (cow’s stomach). Negotiating the labyrinth takes willpower. Past the smell of dried seafood, we sighted the street food wagons. Wedged between two ahjummas (aunties), I tried signalling to the stall owner the crispy snacks I wanted.
She was quick to catch on. We soon tucked into lip-smacking crispy pancake fried with scallions.
Over time, Daegu has worked itself into sports, music and drama history. In 2002, Daegu hosted the FIFA World Cup; and in 2011, it hosted the IAAF World Athletics Championships.
Last month, it recently concluded the 17-day eighth Daegu International Musical Festival.
As for its spot in K-Drama, Daegu’s Keimyung University campus has rustic red-brick facades and gorgeous gardens, evoking a romantic and picturesque backdrop for famous Korean dramas, such as Boys Over Flowers, which was filmed at the Seongseo campus.
Another K-drama, Love Rain, starring Jang Keun-suk and Yoona, was filmed at its Daemyung campus.
To see these locations yourself, take subway line No. 2 and get off at Keimyung University Station.
Step back in time
On another day, we went further afield by taking the Palgongsan Circulation Course bus tour. It was like time travelling to visit well-maintained historical sites.
Our comfortable bus stopped at an ancient mass burial site called Bullo Dong Tumuli Park. The enormous open space spanning about 330,000 sq m was peppered with burial mounds (tumuli), which date from the second to sixth centuries AD.
Later, we visited Bangjja Brassware Museum, ensconced amid beautiful scenery, before immersing ourselves in the tranquillity of Donghwasa. Meaning “Temple of Winter Flowers”, this large temple dates from AD493, and is home to a 17m-high stone Buddha.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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