Sunday, March 23, 2014

Afternoon in Gyeongju

This post is very late in coming, but we wanted to take the time to get a few historical facts straight before posting it. About three weeks ago, a couple fellow foreign teachers invited us to join them on a trip to Gyeongju, a city south of  Pohang. We weren't sure what to expect, but were excited to get out of town for an afternoon. Before we came to Korea, Caleb had heard that there was an archaeological dig close to Pohang and we had kept it in the back of our minds that we'd like to find it eventually. We were excited to find out that the dig and many other historical sites were in Gyeongju.

One of the great things about Korea is the relative ease of travel travel throughout the country. To get to Gyeongju we simply bought a ticket for about $2.50 at the bus terminal, hopped on board, and were in a different city in about thirty minutes. I suppose this is how it works just about anywhere, but we were both surprised by how truly easy it was. 

The city of Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient Silla kingdom (57B-935AD). All throughout the city are vast parks that are dotted with mounds which contain the tombs of various Kings and other noblemen and women. The photos below are not great quality (cell phone photos) and don't show the absolute beauty of the spaces. The abruptness of the tombs were eery and awe-inspiring at the same time. Everywhere we looked was beautiful, despite the yellowed grass and bare trees of winter. We have been told by many people that Gyeongju is THE PLACE to go to see the cherry tree blossoms and plan to go back in a couple weeks. 

Below is a photo from a part of town that has been built up in supposedly historically accurate style. There were little temples and spaces for meditation dotted throughout the little village.

As best we could figure, the rectangular raised area in the foreground represents the footprints of buildings that have been excavated. We found many of these raised areas all over the parks.

Below is the Cheomseongdae Observatory that was used for astronomical observations. It is the oldest surviving observatory in East Asia and dates to the 7th century.

Below is the courtyard area of the museums. There are several museums of art and history. We only had time to peek our heads into one of them before they closed.

This is the Bell of King Seongdeok and was cast in bronze in 771AD. It was massive!

Never miss a chance to break the rules! Staff only down the bamboo tunnel.

Below is Anapji Pond, a man-made pond created in 674AD as part of a palace complex. It has three islands and was used as a place to grow and raise plants and animals. We arrived at dusk, just as they lit the spotlights dotted throughout the woods.
Looking across the pond at a re-creation of the Eastern palace, which was used as a place to hold celebrations.

By the time we left the palace, we were quite famished after an afternoon of walking. We found a "traditional Korean food" restaurant on the walk back to the bus terminal and decided to give it a try. In Korean homes and many sit-down restaurants, it is expected that guests remove their shoes at the door, as was the case at this restaurant. The tables are also low to the ground and guests sit on the floor. Korean meals are almost always comprised of multiple small side dishes, dipping sauces, soups, and meats. Below is a photo of our meal for four.
Up until this day, we had had almost entirely positive experiences with Korean food. However, we soon realized that the end of a long, tiring day is not the best time to try suspicious-appearing foods. We were hungry and craving comfort food. Instead, we ate mini-crabs coated in a red, spicy sauce, crayfish soup, (maybe) oysters in red, spciy sauce, and anchovies as condiments.
In general, both of us try most things at least once. We were able to swallow our respective whole crabs, though neither of us were willing to spring for a second.

Despite some indigestion over the days after, it was all-in-all a good day. We'll definitely be returning when the cherry trees are in bloom.


  1. Thanks for sharing your adventures! Miss you terribly. Hugs and love.

  2. Thanks for sharing your post and pics! So fun!

  3. I am happy that you are blogging. That way I can live vicariously through you guys. Thank you!