Good weather, bad weather, but always a good time!
Gyeongju Travel Blog› entry 297 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip:
Gyeongju is THE place in Korea to visit, if you have any interest in ancient Korean History. The city and surrounding areas contain a plethora of tombs, palaces, pagodas and temples, enough to keep any enthusiast content for a few days. Gyeongju became the capital of the Shilla dynasty back in 57AD and held that title for almost a millenia, and at its peak was home to nearly 1,000,000 citizens! Today the city is a walking museum, as the place has been lovingly restored.
I decided to check into the hostel next to the bus station, which Lonely Planet informed me that i would either love or hate. Well, i was apathetic, but i cant say that i have much good to say about it.
First stop on my grand sightseeing tour was the Noseo-dong Tombs, dating back more than 1500 years, to the Shilla dynasty. Unbelievably there had been houses standing upon the tombs until recently, but it warned that you should not have a picnic on them - its ok to build a house there, but eat a sandwich and the dead royal members would be greatly insulted! I wasn't overly impressed with them to be honest, as the surrounding area was undergoing redevelopment, but they actually reminded me of the Chocolate Hills in bohol, Philippines! http://www.
After a quick pit stop for some lunch, i moved on to Tumuli Park, which contains 23 tombs of former Shilla Kings and some of their wifes too. The tombs which have 2 humps are the ones where the King was buried next to his wife. Burial was performed by placing the deceased in a wooden coffin, which was then placed alongside a wooden chest that contained personal belongings. A wooden chamber was then built around this, which was topped with boulders and an earthen mound covering.
It was possible to enter inside of Cheonmachong Tomb, which translates to the Heavenly Horse Tomb. It received this description as during excavation of the tomb, they found a cloth painting of a white horse, which is depicted on a birch bark saddle flap.
The park looked extremely beautiful with cherry blossom trees in full bloom and the colours and soft music been played made for a very relaxing stroll.
From the Park i had seen some pretty tiled houses over the wall, so decided i would go and check it out. I stumbled across some really lovely buildings, with the star attraction been that of Singhyejeon Temple, which the helpful curator briefly showed me around. From here i walked to Wolseong Park, which housed Cheomseongdae, the oldest astrological observatory in Asia. The park itself was absolutely magnificent and the colours really knocked me off my feet! the day was dazzling and i couldn't think of a more beautiful place at that moment, my gloom of having my boots stolen had been lifted!
In the nearby mini forest of Gyeongju Gyerim, there was a pagoda with a stele inside and a group of schol kids were having their photo taken by their teacher.
By now it was nearly 15.00 and i had the decision of whether to try and rush a visit out to Bulguksa or visit the museum. Now the thought of a museum really wasn't appealing to me, so i made my way to the bus stop. For some reason as i was sat waiting, i thought, come on Philip, get your butt into the museum you uncultured bufoon, so thats exactly what i did! I often have these mini talks and battles with myself, some would call it schizophrenia, but why give it a name!
I am pleased that the inner voices did triumph, as i was thoroughly impressed with the museum.
After spending a good 90 minutes or more, i just had time to make it to Bunhwangsa pagoda, a mid-7th century creation and still standing proudly today.
The following day the weather was abysmal, but i went off to discover the outlying areas of the city and my first stop was Unesco listed Bulguksa Temple. Despite the weather, it seemed like every Korean had made the journey anyway, and having come on the weekend, this meant a hell of a lot of people! Cherry blossom trees filled the gardens on the approach to the Temple and once inside the beauty continued.
From Bulguksa it was an uphill 3.2km walk to the Seokguram Grotto, another Unesco site. I personally didn't find this place as impressive, it was just one cave that had a temple built above it, to shelter it and contained a carved granite Buddha, which was surrounded by more than 30 guardians and deities.
I wandered back down the hill in the mist and light drizzle, another reason i think i wasn't too over enthused about the grotto, afterall, i couldn't really see any of it from the outside! Back down at Bulguksa i caught the bus to Gyeongju and from here collected my belongings and connected on to Busan.