I just returned home from the day trip to Gimhae, site of the ancient capital of the Gaya civilization, administration for up to six states or kingdoms that covered the region of Busan, Jinhae and Masan. It was a good day for the exercise and the learning experience. I'm feeling good and drowsy, for I guess I woke up around five o'clock this morning, and left the house before nine.
I have packed away my phone and camera accessories, and for that reason cannot easily pull out a connecting cord for the purpose of uploading photos from my apparatus until I've resettled wherever they plunk me in about two and a half weeks. Therefore, my written descriptions shall have to suffice for now.
Dressed for hiking in blue jeans, hiking boots and inner and outer athletic jackets, I took the subway then got on the inter-city LRT system to Gimhae. It took about 50 minutes all one way, so I read on the trains. Fortunately, the smart phone makes that convenient. It has the reader software and the camera, remember. I think I got through six more chapters of the Dumas novel, The Three Musketeers, today.
The weather held out. In fact, it was partly sunny and around eight or nine degrees Celsius (low to mid-40s Farenheit), great weather for walking. The tombs park is fairly large with two museums, one on each end, and a pond and some traditional buildings. Not many people were out and about. I walked the full length following the pretty river and landscaped riverside paths, and made broad loops at each end, probably covering at least eight kilometers and some area beyond the park.
The museums are full of history and archaeological artifacts including treasures such as jewelry, pottery, weaponry and tools, some of which dated to as many as 35,000 years ago. I love looking at that sort of stuff. For one thing, human societies in northern North America came late, and there were no states before the European conquests.
I learned that Gimhae means "hearth of iron" or something like that, for the river and hills used to be full of iron. That's what gave it its power, I suppose, for it was the center of the iron age in Korea. It was a commodity of exchange with ancient Japan and China.
It could be, then, what explains the presence of the steel machinery and vessel industry being based in this region. Maybe South Korea actually used its own iron in the early days of its economy. I am certain there no more active mines.
It took me a while roaming to find the famed Tomb of King Suro, but I eventually came across it. "Suro" means the first born and the epithet fit because he was the first of the six kings of the six Gaya states to be born. He was born in 42AD. It is a huge mound. I could not find the Queen's tomb, which is separate and less conspicuous by all accounts.
The area is quite remarkable. I saw a photograph of Gimhae tombs area taken in 1914. There were fields and fields of wood box tombs buried but on raised grounds and outlined by stone markers. Much of the area has been excavated, unlike in Gyeongju, the important center of the Silla civilization that arose in a later period.
I guess the national museum in Gimhae is a popular place for parents to take their young children, for the reception area was filling up with toddlers and primary school aged kids and their moms and dads when I darted in and out before getting back on the LRT for the return trip to Busan. There is a large children's education area on the first floor.
I like to find an excuse to buy at least one little item when I go to such special places. If I don't have anyone to give a souvenir to right away, I save such items and they are there the next time I need to have a gift for someone. I browsed for gifts at that museum and got a small jigsaw puzzle with an image of a Korean artifact plus a small card.
I'd like to go back to Gimhae soon, and try hiking a local mountain up to the fortress or to two ancient Buddhist temples. I've already put out a word on the internet, and C and A responded, though I don't know if I'd have company on a day when I'd prefer to do it, a Friday this month. (I figure that A is just not that bright in some respects, so I'm softening up.)
Time for tea and a nap.