South Korea in the Perspective of a Filipino Expatriate

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Getting Lost at Changdong Art Village (창동예술촌) and Parlyeongsan Stone Pagodas in Masan

In Changdong Art Village of the City of Masan
In Changdong Art Village of the City of Masan

I have the privilege to visit another city in South Korea, a place called Masan. I’ve heard about Masan before, but I never got the chance to visit the city because 1) There are no tourist spots attributed to it and 2) I feel like it’s not an interesting place to visit. I may sound harsh, but yeah, I think I prefer to visit Busan and Daegu because I heard a lot of good things about these places.

WRITE YOUR NAME IN KOREA.


Sangsang Gil in Masan
Sangsang Gil in Masan


I went to Masan because of only one reason, to see my name engraved on the road of Sangsang Gil in Changwon. This is part of the campaign of Korea Tourism Organization called “write your name in Korea”. It’s like the “Walk of Fame” in Hollywood, but instead of famous people, anybody can have their name engrave on the road of Korea in Changwon and it will stay there forever. There are about 23,000 names engraved on Sangsang Gil and somewhere in the middle of the road, you will see my name.

Stepping on Sangsang gil road where the names are engraved
Stepping on Sangsang gil road where the names are engraved
(c) Anny Martinez

I traveled about 4 hours to Masan and I maximized my stay there by exploring what more the city could offer aside from engraving my name on their road. My two other wanderlust friends were already there a day before I arrived, so I joined them in discovering the wonders of Masan.

THE CITY AND THE PEOPLE

The giant bell in one of the streets in Masan
(c) Arman Carinan


We explored the city of Masan by walking around at every possible corner of the street where our feet can take us and some taxi rides. I must say that taxi drivers in Masan are extra friendly. We have this light chat with one of the taxi drivers as he brought us to a buffet restaurant and we discussed a little bit of the culture of people in Masan and about… guess what…. the best place to get sexy and beautiful ladies of Masan.

Since Masan is not a place where tourists would go to travel, some of them are extra xenophobic. If they find out you are a foreigner, they tend to shy away and pretend they could not understand you. But of course, I am just stereotyping, some of them are pleasant to the foreigners too. Because they seldom see tourists in the area, we got the respect of some of the locals there as they smile and greeted us which we translated as their subtle way of appreciation for coming to their place.
If there’s one thing that the three of us as travelers agreed upon, it was the generic look of the city. Just like any other cities in Korea, Masan has the same feel and ambiance. It has no special or unique style to set it apart from other cities. What you see in Busan or in Seoul or in any other major cities in Korea, you can also see in Masan.

The Imaginary Road called Sangsang-gil (상상길) or Buljonggeori-ro (불종거리로)


Entrance to Sangsang gil
(c) Anny Martinez

The “Write your name in Korea” campaign of  KTO is a smart way to introduce Masan to the public and to the tourists. For those who have their names engraved at Sangsang gil, at least you have one good reason to go there. The Sangsang gil is actually an imaginary road where the names of 23,000 foreigners including the names of famous Korean idols are engraved. When you come from Masan Bus Terminal or Masan Station through a taxi, the taxi drivers may not know about Sangsang gil because it is an imaginary road. From my experience, I have to say “Buljonggeori-ro” instead of Sangsang gil because they don’t know about this road yet.

Changdong Art Village


Another interesting place to visit when you’re in Masan is this place called Changdong Art Village. It’s a village located next to Sangsang gil, you can just walk one block away and you will find yourself lost in the alleys of the village.

While walking along the Changdong Art village, we can’t help but to be amazed with the different kind of arts in the area. A friend commented that we were just like walking in a maze. Except that it’s a maze you never mind getting lost into.

A maze like alley of Changdong Art village


What I noticed about the village was there are a lot of art studios and schools in the area. There are also businesses with the touch of art in their shops. Either their walls are painted with murals or their gates are decorated with whatever artsy stuff.

What to do in Changdong Art Village
(c) Anny Martinez


Everything in this village is all about art. You can see it on the walls, the gates and windows and even their parking area. There’s always a touch of art into it.

One of the many small corners with a touch of art at Changdong


I guess Art Village is an understatement because aside from the murals and paintings, there are pottery academy, chalk art store and a lot of very interesting open galleries and museums. Artists are performing everywhere. Either you see them singing, playing instrument or painting. I was actually overwhelmed as I walked through the village.

Artist waiting for clients at Changdong art village
(c) Anny Martinez

However, the place is not that neat. I saw garbage on the road and some junks in the area. Maybe they could make an art out of it, but for time being, it’s somehow discouraging.

Parlyeongsan Stone Pagodas

After the tour at the art village, we still had time to explore more, so we decided to visit the Parlyeongsan Stone Pagodas. It was about 10 minutes away from Changdong Art Village via the taxi. This place is one unique place to visit.  It has its own story and interesting features to offer to visitors. Most of the people we met there were Korean ahjussis and ahjummas geared up with their hiking equipment. It is actually a mountain and a perfect place for people who love to go hiking.

The stone pagodas


We went to the Paryongsan mountain not to hike but to visit the Stone Pagodas. Aparently, a Korean guy by the name of Yi Sam-yong started the construction of Paryongsan Stone Pagodas in year 1993 as a tribute to the families divided by the Korean war. This was his way of hoping and praying that the divided families will soon reunite. Interestingly, people started talking about his work and became a major tourist attraction in the area.

Some of the thousands pagodas at the Parlyeongsan
(c) Arman Carinan

The stone pagodas are indeed an interesting piece of art to see at Paryongsan. We just imagined how hard it was to pile those stones and made it appear that way. Everyone who hike that mountain are surely inspired by the view of these stone pagodas.

Dream Bay Masan

The Masan bay is something you should not miss to see when you go there. We have a few glimpse of it when we were on our way back to Sangsang Gil. It was a dreamy view, which is why it’s called Dream Bay Masan. Maybe in some other time, when it’s not too cold and if time permits, walking along the bay of Masan could be an interesting thing to do.

Masan may not really a drop dead beautiful tourist destination in South Korea, but if you want some diversion and new place to discover, going to Masan maybe a good option for you.

14 comments:

  1. I find it interesting that Masan is not a popular tourist destination. The art village looks totally awesome and tourist friendly, as do the Parlyeongsan Stone Pagodas. Plus, it's cool that your name was engraved on the street in Masan.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'd often rather travel to places that aren't the main stream tourist destinations, you get more of the "real" country there. Korea is somewhere I haven't read much about but you describe this so beautifully. I love the idea of an imaginary road with names engraved and the stone pagodas look like a breathtaking sight to see.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Traveling to Korea would be an amazing opportunity! I love going to places that aren't tourist traps when we travel, you can normally see and experience more that way. Looks like a great trip you guys had!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This sounds fascinating. I would love to visit a place that is removed from the tourist trail. You can really get to know the culture and people this way. I also love the idea of writing your name on the road. Years later you can take your children or grandchildren there.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is my first time on your site and for a second I thought this might belong to a friend of mine who is also a Filipina... She is in Korea now teaching English.
    These pictures are stunning. Masan may seem typical for Korea but certainly isn't what I am used to seeing here in the U.S.
    The Art Village is something I never heard of but seems to me like a beautiful place to visit.
    Leaving a name on the road of Masan is like leaving a piece of you. How fun!

    ReplyDelete
  6. That sounds pretty cool to have your name written in Korean on the street. I love things like that and have my name left on a few restaurant walls. I would have liked to explore the art village and see the different types of techniques used there.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, I want to have my name engraved on the road of Sangsang Gil in Changwon, too. If I still lived in Korea (I did my Masters degree in Seoul) I'd definitely go there. Exploring Korea was such a blast. I went to the Gwangju Biennale twice, so I'd be all about the Changdong Art Village. Sounds fun!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've never been out of the country so every time I see such beautiful images from around the world, it makes me jealous! I would give anything to tour and see such incredible artwork in person! Thank you for sharing this incredible experience! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think finding destinations that aren't the most popular gives the chance to discover something truly unique and different in your travels.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love to travel and it looks like you do as well, I've never heard of the Changdong Art village... but as an artist, I definitely want to check it out! Thanks for helping me find yet another spot I need to add to my travel bucket list!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi I would like to know when did you visit Masan? Because I am planning to go there to see my name. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi!

    I am planning to visit Masan this Nov.
    I would like to know if it's easy to find? How do I get there from Seoul?
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi!

    I am planning to visit Masan this Nov.
    I would like to know if it's easy to find? How do I get there from Seoul?
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete