Thursday, August 01, 2013

Historical Gyeongju

Back in April/May the cherry blossoms in Korea were out in full bloom and it was absolutely beautiful! One of the best places to view the cherry blossoms is in Gyoengju which is a very historical city east of Daegu. It only takes about an hour or so to get there by bus and it has many tourist sites to explore. This weekend we went to Gyeongju for the 5km Cherry Blossom walk and then decided to stay the weekend and check out some of the sites. 

The walk in itself was very beautiful! The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and because there was a breeze they were falling to the ground and blowing in the wind, so stunning! 
After this there was a cultural expo near the site of the walk where representatives from many countries all over the world came to tell Koreans about their countries and why they should visit. It was really interesting and a lot of the stands had traditional foods you could sample along with all different types of coffees and an abundance of brochures giving you information on those countries. 

After this we decided to visit the old tombs back towards the city centre. In Korea many historical figures and famous people are buried in tombs under a large mound of ground instead of coffins in a regular grave site. These tombs have all been protected and you can go and visit the site and have a look for yourself. I think they are quite beautiful and in one of the tombs you were even allowed inside where you could see tools, pots and other equipment used during the time that the tombs were built. 
Once wandering around the tombs for a while we discovered a trail that took us out to these beautiful fields full of flowers of all colors. Korea has quite a bit of natural landscape left but a lot of it is very green and lush and so seeing fields of endless flowers was a welcome change and so beautiful!
We ended off this very busy day with lunch in one of the local restaurants near the tombs. Now as I have said before Koreans give you side dishes with every meal that you order, usually around 4/5 side dishes is normal. I'm not even sure how many side dishes we had with this meal, all I can say is I have NEVER seen so many side dishes in my life. I didn't even know where to start eating! Once we tucked in though, it was absolutely delicious. 

That evening my friend that came with me(Julie) left and Aubrey came down to join me for the rest of the weekend. We spent the night wandering the streets of downtown and finding some good food followed by some local Makkoli(Rice alcohol).

The following day was Sunday so we set out early to check out one of the most famous temples in Gyeongju called Bulguksa(불국사). A lot of traditional temples in Korea look very similar but I love the designs on the wood so I am always up to see another one. This one was a lot bigger than others I had seen and it had quite a large area devoted to prayer stones as well. The weather started to make a turn for the worse that afternoon so we skipped the hike up to the golden buddah and a pond I wanted to see and headed to a small traditional village for lunch instead. Here we had a dish called Galbijjim which is a meat based dish marinated in a local sauce and then again served with a large variety of side dishes and rice. It was delicious!  

The rain came in after this so we hopped on a bus and made the trip back home to Daegu. All in all a very cultural and memorable weekend in Korea :) I will definitely be making another trip down to Gyeongju before winter sets in as there is SO much I still want to see.

Start of the walk
Wind fans

On the walk we walked past this dam

Burial mounds/tombs
I bought a kite and joined in on the fun :)

Flower fields

One of the traditional little restaurants
Lunch with soooo many side dishes

Jjimdak - Kind of fried chicken with veggies in a spicy sauce

Galbijjim at a local restaurant in a little village on the Sunday


We made friends in the restaurant :)

Stalls at the bottom of bulguksa temple

Bulguksa temple

Prayer rocks
Prayer rocks

 Till next time xx