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The folk villages are genuine, not fabricated.
Slow train or bus is the only way to access Andong.
In a nutshell
A historic city with folk villages, but requires patience to go back and forth between all the places.
There are a few nightclubs scattered hither and yon around Andong, most noteably Canberra and Arabian Nights. They're a different animal than typical western-style nightclubs . . .instead of a cover fee you have to purchase a table (around 30,000 won in most clubs) which will come with a set amount of side dishes and alcohol. If you want something more or different, expect to pay through the nose. There will also be truely atrocious DJ's, strange decor, and possibly some topless foreign (usually Russian) dancers. Koreans nearly always go these places in groups, and so should you - preferably with Korean friends (once in a blue moon foreigners have trouble getting in, especially foreign men) Ladies, be aware that some of them also function as "booking" clubs, meaning that waiters may drag you over and make you sit with some random guys who will buy any drinks you consume with them and pay the waiter a gratuity for having brought you by. Also expect local gangsters cheap suits (mostly harmless). Many of these clubs feel a bit like a sleezy Sinatra/Ratpack dream come to life.
UPDATE - there's a new nightclub called BLUESKY . . .look for it down the road from the bus station.
Dress Code: Not sloppy. Jeans may keep you out, but then again this is Andong and it probably won't make a difference. Grunge won't work, but just about anything else will pass. Koreans, especially the women, will of course be dressed to the nines. Men, if you have any shiny faux-40's style pinstripe suits, now's the time to wear them . . .
Updated Jan 26, 2004
Admittedly, you can get Andong Soju all over town. You can even find it (at mildly inflated prices) in Seoul. However, if you buy directly from the family that makes the famous "folk" soju, you'll have the best selection.
What to buy: They carry only the special "folk" soju made Jo Ok-hwa (Gyeongsangbukdo Intangible Cultural Asset #12, Master of Korean Traditional Food #20) This is the special wonderful famous stuff . . .admittedly with a price to match. The real benefit of this place is that in addition to bottles of various sizes (the smallest being 400mL, the largest 800) they have special gift sets including cups, nice boxes, etc.
What to pay: $10-75
It's about 15,000 won for a 400mL bottle, 25,000 for the 800mL
Written Jan 26, 2004
I just spend about 90 minutes at the Mask Dance Festival and was questioned 3 times! I started to refuse any question after this.
They usually ask foreigner and the problem is, that there are not a lot of foreigners.
Just stay kind and say that you allready took part at the survey.
Written Oct 20, 2003
There are lots and lots of trinket stands selling overpriced keychains and fake Hahoe Masks. If you're going to buy a Hahoe Mask, yes, Hahoe Village is a good place to buy it BUT be sure if you're paying alot of money for it that it isn't just some mass produced resin knock-off. The tourist stands at the enterance to the village are especially bad - the masks being sold there only vaguely resemble the real thing (wrong colors, shape, poor construction, etc.) Pretty much everything at these stands is the same as all the other cheap stuff to take home that you'll find everywhere else.
Unique Suggestions: If you're going to buy a fake, there's no reason to haul it all the way from Hahoe Village. Buy it in town . . .or in Pusan . . .or in Seoul! They sell them EVERYWHERE in Korea, so there's no reason to buy an overpriced one just because you're in Andong. Unless you're getting one of the REAL, hand-carved masks, it was probably mass manufactured somewhere else.
Fun Alternatives: Pay out the nose for a real, carved wooden mask . . .another good place to investigate the Hahoe Mask Dance is at the Hahoe Mask Dance Preservation Society downtown. It's down the same road as the reconstructed traditional "city hall" and the real city hall. Go to the three way intersection, and it's right next to the shoe store on the corner.
Updated Jun 8, 2003
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Ladies and Germs, Korea is COLD in winter and HOT in summer. Andong is bitterly cold and dry during the winter months, so you'll want warm clothes - we're talking heavy coats, gloves, the works. There's not much humidity or percipitation either, so you might want to put a bowl of water or a damp towel out at night. In combination with the heated floors you'll be able to humidify your room. During the summer there's PLENTY of humidity and heat to make up for it. Despite the heat, consider dressing conservatively, although the locals are pretty used to foreigners dressing oddly.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Pretty much all the toiletries you could need are available here, and most common medicines are available from pharmacies. Ladies, if you need tampons, you can find them only at pharmacies, but pads are widely available in most mini-marts and grocery stores.
Written Jan 26, 2004