Saturday, June 27, 2009

080830 – Buseoksa Temple and Geusam Ginseng Festival

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After referring to the USO monthly tour itinerary, I saw a ginseng tour at Geusam. Geusam is the center of Korean ginseng distribution and held the world ginseng expo from Aug 29th – Sept 7th. Korean ginseng is well known for its medical health effects and ginseng from Geusam is regarded as the best in Korea. Therefore I took this great opportunity to participate this ginseng tour.

I engaged a guided tour service provided by the US military based in Seoul, called USO Korea located at Itaewon. I have been engaging with this tour for all previous tours and 90% of the tourists are foreigners. If you are in Seoul and wanted to engage a local tour, USO Korea is highly recommended. I normally sent an email to requesting their monthly tour itinerary so that I could plan my travel schedule promptly. You may also call them at 0082-2-795-3063/3028. The one-day tour fare per person was USD40 included bus transportation, ginseng chicken soup lunch and stop-by at Boseoksa Temple. To me, it’s a reasonable price.

I took a subway to USO office, registered myself at the office counter and onboard the bus. The journey started at 8am and our first stop was Boseoksa Temple after around 3 hours bus ride. The bus stopped at the parking lot and we walked for about 5 minutes before reaching the temple entrance. One of the highlights was a 1000 years old ginkgo tree at the entrance of temple. According to the tour guide, this tree made a sound when there is an accident in the village or country, this tree is considered as a guardian.

The main hall of Boseoksa temple

Hanging lanterns in the main hall

I didn’t know this was the sesame plant.

Bell pavilion

After the temple visit, we headed for a lunch at the nearby restaurant which served ONLY Samyetang, which means ginseng chicken soup. After the lunch, we were given sample bottle of ginseng soju where the ginseng root was soaked with soju (Korean famous liquor) in a bottle. I still have the bottle with me, untouched.

Our next destination was the ginseng farm and saw how the farmer digged the ginseng from the ground. The weather conditions in Geumsan together with great geographical and environment make it the best place to grow ginseng.

In Geumsan, digging for ginseng begins in July, and the harvested herb is processed through the end of October, making it one of the most priceless ginseng products in the Korea.

Ginseng root I managed to dig and I brought back to my home country. Luckily I was not detained by the custom.

The last itinerary of the day was heading to the ginseng festival at the expo venue.

At the entrance, there is the International Ginseng Distribution and Exhibition Center

Vicinity of the festival venue

Booths for visitors to learn about ginseng

The weather was so hot that day, so I quickly went to the so-called Health Center with air-cond where visitors can check their health condition and feel the benefits of ginseng.

Visitors soaked their legs with soils that was used to grow ginseng

This tour provided us either a free body massage or ginseng extract facial. Of course without any hesitations, I went for the facial. I think I looked 10 years younger after the 20 minutes facial. Nowadays, so many facial products are made of ginseng extracts.

Huge ginseng root displayed at the expo

Feeling so thirsty and hungry, I bought a fried ginseng root and pure ice-blended ginseng drink for 1000won each. There were shops selling other dishes either made of ginseng or garnished with ginseng.

Rows of shops selling ginseng products

Some shops were selling dried ginseng root. Due to language barrier and not even a single English sign on the price, that deterred me from buying. It’s great if you go with local friends. Besides that, I also worried being slaughtered with the huge price since I’m not local. Recommended product to get here would be the pure ginseng extract. I bought at Lotte Mart, though it’s pricey. I checked the price back in home country was double the price.

At the entrance, I saw these scarecrows with colourful clothes.

We all gathered at the entrance at 4pm waiting for out tour bus before heading back to Seoul. The bus reached USO office in Seoul and I took a subway back to my hotel.

1 comment:

  1. Wow that looks amazing, seems you had a great time, lucky you, anyway I never be in japan but I guess that it's a wonderful place.