GIC Tour: Buan, North Jeolla

The height of spring provides the perfect time to head to the coastal region of Buan in South Jeolla’s sister province of North Jeolla. This destination provides both the unique natural beauty and regional specialties that serve as a lure for us to make the trip north for the second tour of the 2016 season. Our first stop, Chaeseokgang Cliffs, is a marine playground crafted by nature herself. People journey from all over the peninsula just to enjoy the craggy vistas here. Our arrival, however, will coincide with one of the twice-daily low tides, when the receded waters will allow us to clamber down and along the stratified layers of rock to observe the tidal sea life and wave-carved caverns.

After such an up close and personal experience with the coast, we will move on for a more sumptuous and filling taste of what the sea has to offer beyond the tang of salt air. Our lunch destination is a restaurant a short distance from Chaeseokgang, and one that is equally as sea-side as the cliffs themselves. A peak down from the windows next to the tables offers no view of the shore, but rather a look straight down into the waters of the Yellow Sea. The crashing waves spray the windows as participants will enjoy a few dishes made fresh from the local catch. The first of which will be maeuntang, a spicy soup made by boiling large pieces of saltwater fish along with various vegetables in a broth seasoned both by gochujang, or red pepper paste, and gochukaru, or chili powder. The local, freshly-caught fish will help make this a memorable maeuntang, a dish that can be found with relative ease in other regions. The other dish sharing the table, however, will allow participants to enjoy a true representative food of the Buan region. The baekhap clam is a species that has long been prized by the inhabitants for its ability to survive dry conditions for long periods of time. Due to its scarcity, though, today only a relatively small number of the clams can be harvested each season. The locals make a little go a long, tasty way by incorporating the clams into baekhap juk, a rice porridge seasoned with sesame oil and salt.

After having our fill of seaside dining, we will journey inland to Naeso Temple for a sample of the history and culture Buan has to offer. The temple was founded at the base of Naebyeong Mountain in 633 C.E. Much of the temple was rebuilt in the 17th century, however, including one of several national treasures, the Main Buddha Hall, which was constructed entirely without the use of iron nails. The most distinctive feature of the Main Buddha Hall, though, and one of the temple’s hallmarks, is the conspicuous absence of the traditional five-color design seen on the buildings of most other Korean temples. Naeso Temple is also home to a pair of less man-made relics. Two ancient zelkova trees stand at the entrance of the park and of the temple itself, known as Grandfather and Grandmother, respectively. In former times, these trees were considered village guardians, and Grandfather boasts an age of over 500 years, while Grandmother nearly doubles that, having seen more than a millennium pass by under her watch.

Like many coastal areas, the sea helps to set the table for the people of Buan not only with the edible haul pulled from the water but also with the seasoning via salt, harvested by various salt farms in the area. Our next stop will be to the Gomso salt farm for a demonstration of exactly how the locals make use of the sun and flat tidal plains to evaporate the seawater, leaving behind the natural minerals and salt, which in turn are processed and shipped all over the country. Participants will take away their own share of sea salt harvested at this very facility.

What has put Buan on the map historically has been its production of high-quality celadon pottery. Dating back to the Goryeo dynasty, roughly from the 10th to the end of the 14th century, Buan was one of the most important centers for creating these popular ceramics with their characteristic jade green glaze. Our final stop will be the Buan Celadon Museum, a modern facility featuring diverse, interactive displays and more than 200 pieces of fine celadon. Visitors can explore the history and entire process of making celadon pottery in the region, including an experience program that will allow participants to create their very own pot to keep.

Rocky sea cliffs, freshly-caught seafood, a temple steeped in history, and an exploration of the region’s characteristic production of fine art – all of this and more awaits the participants of the April GIC tour!

Visit Page 8 Of The Gwangju News April PDF For More Details: https://issuu.com/gwangju_news/docs/gn_april_online_2016_final

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