One of my big To Do’s for Korea my second year was to visit Gyeongju. Gyeongju is a city in Korea that is filled with historic spots and it was one of the places my 할아버지 (Grandpa) insisted I visit in my time in Korea. So I finally went and visited for a weekend. It was a great time, it was actually the first time I had ever travelled completely solo and I learned a lot.
First up was Cheomseongdae Observatory which I was really excited to see. My first year teaching in Korea I had a student whose family was ethnically North Korean. After the Korean War they had fled to Uzbekistan and had recently immigrated to South Korea. She was such a sweet little girl…her first language was Russian and she spoke amazing English but struggled with Korean. I only had her as a student for a week but she was such a special student, she would make me origami flowers every day and at the end of the week she gave me a tiny little Cheomseongdae Observatory.
Another major sight in Gyeongju is Bulguksa Temple. I love Korean temples and have been to quite a few at this point. Bulguksa is one of the larger temples in Korea and even when raining worth a visit. As with many other Korean temples they offer a Templestay program and Bulguksa’s program is known for the participants being taught traditional martial arts during their stay. Catch up on my Templestays at Haeinsa here and the Lotus Lantern International Meditation Center here.
Another Gyeongju biggie is Anapji Pond. I happened to be visiting Gyeongju during a 3 day holiday weekend in Korea and the crowds were out en masse but despite the rainy weather. Anapji Pond is nice during the day but it is really nice at night when the lights are on and you can see the reflections in the water.
Last up on touristy sights was Seokguram Grotto to see the Buddha hidden away in a cave. This was a really wet hike in the rain and to be honest…the Buddha was kind of meh. Pretty cool but at this point I’ve seen a lot of Buddhas. Photography isn’t allowed inside the grotto itself so I only managed to snap some shots of the way there. On the way out I decided to right the bell for Mercy…that was fun.
And no trip in Korea would be complete without getting whatever food is famous in the area and taking it home with you. In Jeonju it was the chocopies (see my thoughts on them here). In Gyeongju it was Gyeongju bread. Gyeongju bread is bread filled with a red bean mixture that includes nuts and some other stuff. It was actually pretty tasty and my kindergarten students seemed to enjoy it.
I was glad to have finally visited Gyeongju and it was definitely worth the trip! So many good sights to see and they are all pretty close making most of them really easy to get to.