Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Gyeongsangnam: Find My Name in Masanhappo District, Changwon City

I made my mark in South Korea! A section of Dongseobuk 10-gil is tiled with 23,000 names of people from all over the world, mine included! Changwon City and Korea Tourism Organization has named this road as Sangsang-gil or Imaginary Road. And that is what I had set out to find in Masanhappo District in Changwon City in the province of Gyeongsangnam (South Gyeongsang). It would have remained as its name claims it is—imaginary—had I not seen it with my own near-sighted eyes.

The quest for this Imaginary Road was not included in my itinerary, but a small pocket of time had presented itself, so off I go some 45 kilometers west of Busan, in a city so unfamiliar to non-Koreans (well, at least according to my research which didn't yield many useful results) that it was a miracle I found my way to this little walk of...fame? Yes, just to see my name engraved on a 6" x 6" tile was the only reason why I went out of my way and out of my itinerary.

Directions to Masan in Changwon City from Busan:
Take Busan Subway Line 2 to Sasang Station, exit 3 or 5. From either exit, find Busan Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal. Buses headed to Masan in Changwon City depart every 10 minutes. One way ticket costs KRW 3,500. The trip takes 30 minutes.

Directions to Sangsang-gil from Masan Bus Terminal:
From Masan Bus Terminal, cross the street and find the bus stop for Bus 800. Tell the driver you're going to Sangsang-gil—or if he doesn't understand, you might want to show him this: 상상길(불종거리로). He will drop you off at Samsung Saengmyeong Bus Stop. From the bus stop, walk along Buljonggeori-ro for about 200 meters, then on your right you will find Sangsang-gil (Dongseobuk 10-gil).

The first thing that greeted me, telling me I was in the right place, was the Buljong Arch with its bell. In the past, the bell was rung to alert people when there was a fire.

Buljong Arch (and Core Bakery on the right)

And then a few steps past the arch, I found my walk of fame: Sangsang-gil. I proceeded to walk along the center of it, feeling like a star. Not. I proceeded to walk along the center of the colorful road of 23,000 names with my head down. To find my name. On tile 135F.


My name and my dirty shoes

I had found my name. I had taken a shoefie (not a selfie because I suck at selfies—I am sure it would be all mustache and no visible tile name). I can go home now. But I didn't. I walked the short Sangsang-gil and explored the alleys branching from it. Along Sangsang-gil, I found Koryodang and tried their honey bread. The Imagine Your Korea Tour Itinerary also recommends Koryodang's senbei (rice crackers), which I, sadly, did not get to try. It also recommends the corn bread, walnut bread, and milkshake from Core Bakery (right by Buljong Arch). I did not get to try those either. This visit would have transitioned into a food trip had I had some foodie friends with me: bakeries, snack bars, restaurants were calling. (Aside from these, there are also many shops around, so shopaholics might be in for some weight shopping bag lifting.)

Koryodang Bakery and their honey bread

Moving along and resisting the food temptations, I found art and lots of it. I found art on roads. Art on walls. Art on shop signs. Art on shop displays. I had found myself in Changdong Art Village.

Art on the road 

Shop signs are a work of art too! 

 Tree art

 Art on walls

And lots of it 

Even the plant boxes and post boxes are not spared from art 

I found my name. I found food. I found art. I found that this place deserves more than the few hours I had spent in it. 

Other places to see in Masan (see pink pins on map) 
Moonshin Art Museum - a museum of Moon Shin's art pieces
Gagopa Kkoburang-gil Mural Village
Burim Market - a traditional market
Masan Fish Market - if you like to eat raw fish, check out the raw fish restaurants in this market

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.