Sunday, August 4, 2013

Good Times in Gyeongju

We took the 2 hour fast train called the KTX to Gyeongju, Korea.  HJ was kind enough to offer to rent a car and drive us around to see the sights.  Obviously, we weren't the only ones with the same idea. 

Bulguksa temple is the most famous Buddhist temple in Korea. All the temples we've seen on this trip are still active. We were not suppose to take pictures inside because there were people praying. 

This temple is home to a number of important relics from the Silla Dynasty, including these stone pagodas.

Seokgulam Grotto - HJ drove us up a very long and VERY windy road to the top of a mountain to see the statue of Buddha in a cave. It was built in the mid 8th century during the Silla Dynasty. The statue was behind glass and unfortunately photos were not allowed. The view, however, was spectacular!

People pay money and write a wish to be hung on these lotus lanterns.  Quite a spectacular sight!

This women was very fond of Abby.  She used the Korean expression "She was as beautiful as a flower". Abby was very appreciative and said "Thank you" in Korean.

HJ booked a traditional Korean guest house for us to stay in for the night. It had four outside walls with rooms, common kitchen as well as a common courtyard (garden) in the centre. Shoes are taken off before entering. The suite was a floor with bedding. The non traditional parts were air conditioning (absolute necessity), TV and a brand new bathroom (yay!).

On the walk to dinner we noticed this rock that says "Gyeongju Historical Architectural Sight".  In the distance, the grass mounds are tombs. The sights go from serene grassy fields to intense, narrow busy streets.

After asking many people for directions, we finally found the chicken restaurant HJ and Jonathan were looking for. We sat on the floor and the food was immediately dropped onto the hot grill. The waiter used scissors to cut the chicken.  It was called ttalk kalbi. The dish was spicy so we ordered beer to help wash it down!

After we finished the chicken we ordered fried rice. The waiter cooked it on the grill with the tasty bits left over from the chicken. Then he sprinkled the rice with kim (seaweed).

We woke up early (as usual) and decided to rent two tandem bikes. We paid 20,000 won (about $20 Canadian dollars) for 1 hour.  It was plenty of time to see the sights in the area. There appeared to be no rules for cycling so we rode along a path to see the ponds filled with lotus plants. We also saw this star observatory (made from stone).

Looks like Abby photo bombed our selfie in the gourd tunnel! Well done, Abby!

There were many tombs with important people (ie: kings) in this city.  We visited the park with Cheonmachong tomb. It was interesting to see the inside of these tombs and find out how they were constructed.  So, we went inside... a large wooden coffin covered in more than 3 metres of large stones followed by 2 metres of soil and grass.  

We had a 1:30 pm train to catch to get back to Seoul.  It was a two hour ride and we were on the KTX Train with a movie!  We watched "A Late Quartet" in English with Korean subtitles.  We arrived home safely and ordered Chinese food for dinner!  The kids dozed off and we are planning our adventures for tomorrow!

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