Gyeongju, South Korea
April 3rd – 4th 2011
So the next stop for me in South Korea was Gyeongju, former capital of the Silla dynasty. I read that the city is famous for its style of tombs, literally a giant mound/small hill, and I had to see it for myself.
I arrived after a 3.5 hour bus-ride from Seoul. It was chilly, getting late, and I didn’t have accomodation so I walked around the bus-station area which had many motels and their bright neon signs. They were quite pricey (averaging 50000 Won/night) but I happened upon one which had a nice lady who agreed to lower the asking price of 40000 Won/night to 30000/night. It’s still high-end (by my standards, it’s about right for Korean motel standards) and I don’t usually pay this much for accomodation but I figured, it’s 2 nights. I had read that there was a hostel in the area but the reviews made it sound like the dirtiest place on earth and I would’ve had to pay 20000 Won for a dorm bed/shared bathroom/nothing else so why not 10000 Won more for a really nice room all to myself along with a bunch of fancy amenities.
(Motels and neon signs.)
(Gyeongju locals eating dinner.)
Had bibimbap for dinner (no need for point-and-pick method, just straight up saw a picture, walked in, asked for “bi bim bap” thanks to my recognition of it). I then happened upon a wonderful thing called “Gyeongju bread” which is basically red-bean paste-filled pastries. There were two kinds. I bought a box of one kind that night, and another box of the second kind the next day. They were both great and I even got to see the motherload of motherloads of red-bean paste as they were making the bread. (My family knows this is a big deal to me.)
(No idea what this is called…I did the Point-and-Pick.)
(The 1st kind of Gyeongju bread.)
(The 2nd kind.)
(The motherload of red-bean paste. Mouth-watering…)
I signed up for a city tour that would take me around to all the major Gyeongju city sights. The Bulguksa Temple and hill-tombs were the major attractions although we went to check out several smaller attractions including the world’s smallest (and most worthless) observatory. As all the hill-tombs are closed up, there was one which was opened to allow people to see what it looks like inside. If I didn’t know they were tombs that held royal Silla kings, I would’ve mistaken them for regular hills. But it was cool to see how it was constructed deep inside.
(Front of Bulguksa Temple.)
(A hill-tomb, the only one in Gyeongju where ppl can enter.)
(Cheomseongdae Observatory, oldest in Far East, built 634 AD. No Hubble telescope then.)
Off to Andong next.