Dreams do come true! Thanks to my Korean teacher, our family had the pleasure of visiting the Myeongjae Old Mansion in Nonsan. This is the mansion of a Korean scholar who lived from 1629 ~ 1714AD. This mansion was built by his students as a gift to the humble professor who believed in equal rights to all people when there was a marked difference in the life of the common people and the educated officials in Korea. I have always wanted to try to stay in a traditional Korean hanok, understanding the construction, experiencing the culture and enjoying the environment. I was looking into the hanoks at Bukchon in Seoul when this irresistible offer came by! Here, I had an opportunity to experience an authentic 300 year old mansion, for a night, enjoy a traditional tea ceremony in the outdoors next to the ginseng plantation overlooking the mansion itself and the kimchi pots and get a guided tour about the various aspects of the construction of the hanok itself and the philosophies of the scholar it belonged too. It was a dream come true!
We were taken to the Myeongjae mansion along with a camera crew who interviewed us about our experiences at the mansion. It was quite an experience! We were taken to Nonsan by KTX from Yongsan station and we took the taxi for a 10 minute ride to the mansion, all the while being clicked :) I felt like a princess ;)
We were greeted with quite a view right when we get off the taxi. Beautiful setting of the mansion- with the mountain behind and an artificial pond in the front of the house- was typical of the traditional Korean houses. But this mansion did not have a boundary wall surrounding it like a typical Korean official's house would have. It was done as a sign to welcome all visitors, in accordance to the scholar's philosophy.
|The picturesque pond in front of the mansion where meditation and relaxation would be easy, dont you think?|
|The mansion along with the Doenjang (fermented soya bean paste) pots. I was lucky, I even got to taste the paste!|
|Men's quarters in Myeongjae mansion. The mansion was made out of hanji paper and wood. The rectangular frames on the left and right are detachable. It ensured privacy as well.|
|The child's bedroom which leads to the women's quarters.|
|What a view to wake up to! Interestingly, this detachable window had the same ratio as the widescreen TVs we have now! The view all through the house from each window or door was so pretty that there was no other need for an artificial picture/painting to pep-up the place! This was the grandfather's room.|
|The hi-fi camera used (by professionals) to take arial pictures of the mansion|
|We were treated with a yum dinner by the crew that night!|
We also had a cultural treat at the mansion performed by famous artists in Korea.
|Misty morning at the mansion|
|Trees around the mansion were decked with fruits|
|The Korean Tea ceremony was my absolute favorite time at the mansion. A close relative of the descendant of the scholar, attired in the traditional hanbok, taught us about the key elements involved in the tea ceremony while pouring us a hot cup of tea. My God! It was an hour i would never forget in my life!|
|The interesting portable stove for our supply of hot water for the tea.|
|We also had pretty tasty snacks along with the tea.|
The Myeongjae mansion was built with a lot of interesting ideas which included a low chimney- according to the philosophy of the scholar- that poor people should not see the smoke from the other person's chimney when they could not afford a proper meal.
There were many people visiting the mansion while we were there, including the mayor of Nonsan! It was quite an experience to see the professionals at work!