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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Roadtrip to Gyeongju! (DAY 1)

I don't know what we were thinking when we thought taking Scoot 3 1/2 hours north to the histroical city of Gyeongju was a good idea!  I know it's only because I prayed for 20 minutes straight that we didn't both turn around and head back to Busan!  My gosh!  My butt and legs were sooo sore by the time we arrived!  Thank goodness the drive north was filled with beautiful scenery where we could stop on little breaks and enjoy!

Safety before fashion people!  Safety before fashion!

I guess I should give a little heads up about Gyeongju... So, here you go!
Gyeongju is 511 square miles, with a population of about 270,000 people. It was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD) which ruled most of Korea between the 7th and 9th centuries. A ton of archaeological sites and items from this period still remain in the city.  Most Koreans refer to it as "the museum without walls", which I would definitely agree with!

We finally made it to Gyeongju around 1:00pm and checked into a super ghetto motel, since the 2 youth hostels we picked out ended up being booked!  So, this is what Aaron got for $15.00 a night! 

We checked in at the motel, dropped our bags, and headed out for some lunch at this Chinese restaurant in downtown Gyeongju.  We met a really nice guy from America, who was with his Korean wife having lunch.  We talked for a couple minutes and were already offered a job at the univeristy where he works!  Hopefully when and if we eventually do look for university positions it ends up being this easy!

During lunch, we searched the internet on our iphones for a place to check out in the city!  Before I moved to Korea I used to plan every moment of every day of every vacation!  Now, I pack a backpack, buy a train ticket, or in this case, jump on the scooter, and figure out the rest when I get there!  So, anyhow, we researched for 5 minutes and decided to check out Yangdong Folk Village, a traditional village from the Joseon Dynasty which was recently designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  So, we jumped on scoot and headed 16 km's north.  Fifty-four historic homes, over 200 years old, have been preserved in this village.  It's so famous that even Prince Charles visited Yangdong in 1993!

There are actually people still living in these hisoric homes!  This one however is not occupied!  According to the sign in front, the home was built in 1543 for the governor of Gyeongsan-do province.

This is the front gate. leading into the home's courtyard.

Knock, knock!  Anyone home?

The village is traditional by all aspects, from the gardens to the rooftops!

No washing machines or dryers in this village!

I can't imagine how much it costs to purchase one of these homes!  Aaron and I think they're probably just passed down through generations and never actually sold!

You better believe there aren't any big grocery stores in this UNESCO village!  Nope... this sign states "Super" (which is what they call supermarkets in Korea)...

... and here it is!  Yangdong Folk Village's very own "Super".  Obviously most of the residents live off the land around here!

 Why buy veggies at the market when you can grow them fresh on your own land!?

Traditional Korean roofs consist of straw (in this case) or beautiful tiles!

After getting our fill of Yangdong, we scooted back to Gyeongju to check out the Anapji Pond.  Anapji, or Anap Pond is an artificial pond in Gyeongju National Park, South Korea which was part of the palace complex of ancient Silla (57 BCE - 935 CE). It was constructed by order of King Munmu in 674 CE.

We bought some traditional rice snacks at the front gate to snack on while we walked around the pond!  They were surprisingly delicious and super low in calories!  Always a nice plus!

All around the pond were fields filled with lovely white flowers and people sprawled out, searching for four leaf clovers amongst them!  This darling little girl wasn't interested in finding clovers though, she was working hard to make a beautiful bouquet for her grandmother! :)

Aaron and I jumped over the tiny fency and plopped down in the field in search of our very own four leaf clover!  I kid you not, the second I looked down, I found this one!   Guess that means I'm lucky, huh?!

This may vaguely resemble an Ollin Mills photo, but I happen to think it's beautiful!

I will never understand why people play games on their cell phones when they're surrounded by such beauty!

I layed here for a while, picking flowers and looking for more 4 leaf clovers!  Unfortunately I didn't find anymore!  Guess they are pretty hard to find, eh?!

The perks of having a photographer boyfriend!

We ended the night with some delicious Japanese food for dinner, and NANTA in the park, a famous Korean musical, which usually costs about $100 a ticket!  Lucky for us, it was FREE!

In ancient Korea, Kings were burried with all of their belongings, including their servants, who were believed to pass into the afterlife with them... In order to burry everything and everyone together, they built huge mounds, like the egyptians with the pyramids.  In Korea's case though, they built huge dirt mounds and covered them with grass!  The NANTA show was going on right next to a graveyard filled with tons of these ancient graves!  Kinda weird and eiree if you ask me!

After the show, families and kids were climbing the gigantic mounds and sliding down them, like they were a junglegym of sorts!  We thought this was REALLY strange, since usually Koreans are really respectful of gravesites, but apparently it was no problem to play on this one!  So, I dared Aaron to climb up and slide down on a plastic bag (to make him go faster, of course!)  What you're about to witness is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time!  And the Koreans around us were thuroughly entertained!  No one was upset! :)   Thank goodness!

It was the perfect way to end a wonderful first day in the ancient South Korean city of Gyeongju!

1 comment:

  1. i love it! the village and homes are amazingly beautiful. i love the photos of you in the field of flowers!