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    We have returned home and we are going through our many pictures (around 700). We had a wonderful visit to your beautiful country and I must say that working with you and the tour guides made it even more special. When we return to that side of the world, we will be contacting you again. We still need to come to Guilin and see the beautiful sights that you see every day.

    Angela was great. She is a pleasant and pretty young lady and she knows so much about the sights in Chengdu. My son really liked talking to her.

    Peter was very good but his English can use some improvement. He was extremely patient with us and accommodated our needs wonderfully.

    May was also very good and professional. It is obvious she knows her subject and she is a great sales person.

    I look forward to using your services again. Thank you for everything and thank you for the gift. It is hanging on the wall in my home. I think of you every time I see it.


    Andersen "

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    Suwon, Home of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Hwaseong Fortress
    1. Hwaseong Fortress Introduction

    Built by King Jeongjo of the Joseon Era, Hwaseong Fortress is designated Historical Site No.3 by the Korean government. Construction began in January of 1794 and was completed in September of 1796. There were two key underlying reasons for the construction of Suwon City. First, it was to move the tomb of King Jeongjo's father, Sado Seja, a tragic casualty of a political strife. Second, it was to suppress old influences by using the new ones in his favor to construct the new city; thus, strengthening his position as king. 

    Size and Structure
    The circumference of Hwaseong Fortress's wall is an impressive 5.7km long (including the areas that have not been repaired- the repaired walls measure 5.4km) and its height ranges from 4.9m to 6.2m. The rest of the facility contains a little over 50 other structures. Paldalmun Gate, Janganmun Gate, Changryongmun Gate, and Hwaseomun Gate are its 4 main gates, and other structures worth noting are the Ammun Gate, Sumun Gate, Jangdae, Gakru, Gongsimdon, Poru, and Bongdon. In the center of Hwaseong Fortress is the Hwaseong Temporary Palace, where the king sought refuge during times of war and enjoyed restful repose in times of peace. 

    An interesting point to note about the fortress is that it was planned and built using the ideas of practical science. Hwaseong Fortress was built using the fortress plans of Yakyong Jeong, (1762 ~ 1836), the Joseon era's most eminent scientist. Both stone and brick were used, heavy materials were lifted using a system of pulleys to reduce building time, and the logically distributed defensive structures made effective attacks and defenses possible. It was a pioneering achievement for that era. The use of the pulley system is especially fantastic, because it cut down the estimated building time of 10 years to an impressive 33 months. 

    The structure was completed in 1796 after 33 months of toil. After its completion, King Jeongjo ordered a publication of a report- 5 years later, the 'Hwaseong Yeokuigwe' was published. This book included drawings of Hwaseong Fortress, its building plans, and names of the carpenters and artists that worked on the structure. This book played a pivotal role in the repair of Hwaseong Fortress after the devastation of the Japanese Invasion and the Korean War. The current Hwaseong Fortress is the result of 4 years of repairs starting in 1975- with the help of the information in the 'Hwaseong Yeokuigwe.'
    2. The Sights at Hwaseong Fortress  
    Paldalmun Gate 팔달문
    Paldalmun Gate is the southern gate of Hwaseong Fortress, designated National Treasure No. 402. A crescent shaped 'ongseong' (defensive secondary wall to prevent the main gate from being broken down with logs) is built on the outside of the door. On the right wall of the gate is a nameplate which contains the names of the people involved in the construction of the gate. The Paldalmun Gate is unique in that it is separated from the rest of the gates, and located in the middle of the busy city. The reason for this is because commerce took roots around the gates before its reconstruction, making it impossible to build in that area.
    Hwaseomun Gate 화서문
    Hwaseomun Gate is the western gate of Hwaseong Fortress, National Treasure No. 403. Over the stone-built Mujigae (rainbow) Door is a single level tower gate. The Hawseomun Gate's ongseong is different from the one at Paldalmun Gate because one side of the crescent is open.
    Janganmun Gate 장안문
    It is the north gate of Hwaseong Fortress and its main gate as well. 'Jangan' means capital, and it carries the meaning of being a secondary capital. Janganmun Gate is considered the main gate because this is the direction that the king would come from when arriving from Hanyang, the capital city. It is interesting to note that this gate is larger that the Sungryemun Gate in Seoul.
    Changnyongmun Gate 창룡문
    Changnyeongmun Gate, the eastern gate of the fortress, is similar in shape and size to Hwaseomun Gate. The central item of interest on this gate is the nameplate attached to the left of the gate. The names carved into the polished granite are still clear to this day while the nameplates at the other 3 main gates have faded.
    Hwahongmun Gate 화홍문
    The Suwon River cuts across Hwaseong Fortress from the North to the South. Water gates were installed on the north and south walls to allow the river to flow through. Hwahongmun Gate is the north water gate of the fortress, containing 7 different-sized arches to let the water through. The central opening is larger than the ones towards the outside, making it easier to control the rainfall. On the hill east of the Hwahongmun Gate lies a fabulously built banghwasuryujeong (방화수류정).
    Hwaseong Haenggung 화성행궁
    The Hwaseong Haenggung was a temporary palace where the king sought refuge during war and found rest during times of peace. The Hwaseong Haengung is the largest of all temporary palaces in Korea, used by King Jeongjo and the kings who followed.
    Seojangdae 서장대
    A 'jangdae'(장대) is a raised structure that is used in training the military. Hawseong fortress has two on the east and west side. The western Seojangdae is located at the summit of Mt. Paldalsan, the highest point within the Hwaseong Fortress walls. The location gave the soldiers a great viewpoint of the overall happenings in the fortress while undergoing training. It is sometimes called the Hwaseong Jangdae.
    Yeojang 여장
    A 'yeojang'(여장) is a shallow 1m wall built on top of the fortress wall to protect oneself from the enemy. It made the wall appear taller from outside and harder for the enemy to see the activity going on within the walls. Small walls in the yeojang made it possible to attack the enemy while being protected by the wall.
    Yeonmudae 연무대
    Once used to train soldiers; the surrounding area is open, which made it possible to see far out in all 4 directions. Visitors can try 'gukgung' archery at the Yeonmujeong, located next to the Yeonmudae.
    Poru 포루
    A 'poru' is a tower with holes in the walls, enabling the defenders to attack the enemy from within it. There are wooden towers to shoot guns from and stone towers to fire cannons from.
    Ammun Gate 암문
    Used as a secret passageway, Ammun Gate was built in the wall, hidden from view of the enemy. It was used to secretly transport weapons, food, other items, and people without letting the enemy know.
    Bongdong 봉돈
    During the Joseon era, a fire or smoke signal was used to convey urgent information. Bongdon is an area where these signals were originated. There were 5 torches, one lit under normal conditions, 2 at the appearance of the enemy, 3 when the enemy approached the border, 4 when the enemy breached the border, and 5 when the enemy attacked. It is located on the summit of Mt. Paldalsan, next to the Seojangdae training facility.
    Gongsimdon 공심돈
    Gongsimdon' is a 3-story stone brick structure built on top of the fortress wall. There was a hole in the wall which allowed sentries to keep an eye out for the events outside the walls and, also, to shoot guns from. This is a structure unique to Hwaseong Fortress- no other fortress or castle wall has anything like it.
    3. Hwaseong Fortress Highlights
    Chongan 총안
    The 'chongan' are holes in the 'yeojang' of the fortress walls created so the defenders could shoot at the enemy while protected. What's amusing is the shape of the holes- some are drilled straight outwards ('weonchongan') to shoot at far off enemies, and some are drilled at a downward slant ('geunchongan') to shoot at enemies close to the fortress wall.
    Ongseong 옹성
    The 'ongseong' is a crescent-shaped defensive structure created to prevent the enemy from attacking the fortress wall. In the past when taking over a fortress depended on bringing down its gates, the enemy would use a log to crash open the gates- but the onseong, a secondary wall built in front of the gates, made that maneuver impossible. These defensive ongseongs are located in front of all of Hwaseong's 4 main. This was an innovation using lessons learned from innumerable years of battle experience. They are called ongseongs because they are crescent-shaped. .
    The walls of Hwaseong Fortress were built using rocks that were collected and transported from nearby areas as well as Mt. Paldalsan. Closed inspection reveals that the rocks were carved and pieced together like puzzle pieces. The rocks have a reddish hue because they contain high levels of iron.
    Nameplates of the Builders
    During the construction of Hwaseong Fortress, it was mandatory for its builders to insert carved nameplates carrying their own names into the walls. There are nameplates present at Changryongmun Gate, Hwaseomun Gate, and Paldalmun Gate with the names of the foreman, stoneworkers, and more. This practice ensured quality work by assigning blame to the builders if a problem with the wall arose. The nameplate at Changryongmun Gate is the most visible.
    Fortress Wall Path
    Hwaseong Fortress is a circular wall with a circumference of 5.4km (excluding the minimal amount of wall that has not been reconstructed). On the outside, there is a fortress wall path wide enough for two people to walk along. A 2 to 3 hour walk along this path will take visitors around the entire Suwon Hwaseong Fortress wall.
    4. Cultural Experience at Suwon  
    King Jeongjo's Procession and Changing of the Guards 
    This event recreates the procession of King Jeongjo and the Changing of the Guards at Hwaseong Fortress. The procession takes place from Bongsudang to the front gate. The Changing of the Guards is an exact reenactment of the ceremony that took place during King Jeongjo's times. Participating tourists can try on the guard costumes and take souvenir photos with the actors. 
    Hours April to October, every Monday and National Holidays, 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM. 
    Tickets Free
    'Gukgung' (National Archery) 국궁
    Located on the grassy front of Yeonmudae, Yeonmujeong offers visitors a place to experience 'gukgung', or national archery. Gukgung is Korea's traditional form of archery, different from regular archery because the thumb is used to pull the string. A basic lesson is given in gukgung before visitors try shooting on their own.
    Hours 10:00 AM ~ 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM ~ 5:00 PM
    Tickets Free
    Hyowon's Bell 
    At the summit of Mt. Paldalsan is Hyowon's Bell, a bell that was created to honor the filial devotion of King Jeongjo towards his father, Sado Seja the royal prince. The bell is always rung three times- the first ring is in gratitude for the love of one's parents, the second in hope for the happiness in one's family, and the third in prayer for self improvement. 
    Hours November to February 09:00 AM ~ 5:00 PM, March to October 09:00 AM ~ 6:00 PM
    Bongdon Bonghwa Torch 봉돈봉화
    The torch was used in the past for military communication purposes. 'Bong' means torch, and 'su' means smoke. The torch smoke was used during the daytime and fire was used at nighttime to relay urgent information and the movement of enemy troops. Every 12:00 PM, actors dressed in Joseon army uniforms light torches. On weekdays, only one torch is lit, but on weekends, five.
    Hours Daily, at 12:00 PM (About 10 minutes)
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    Dear Lillian, Today we arrived well, the guide has been very helpfull and kind. I want to thank you for all arrangement that you did for us, our trip was a wonderfull experience!
    Thanks for everything!
    Ill send you photos when i arrive home ok!
    Perla Carias

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