Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer Survival

In South Africa we have hot summers but they are an entirely different kind of hot to the summers in South Korea. Why?

Well you see, back home we do not have the level of humidity that South Korea has and it is also not hot for as long. The temperatures in SA peak around mid-day and then start to cool down but in South Korea there is only a one or two degree difference during the course of the entire day which means that mornings and evenings are also very very warm!

We were given a brief summer vacation and decided to explore Busan and Gyeonju, which was wonderful, however we did not take the heat into account.

So, as summer draws to a close we thought some South Korean summertime survival tips (or at least what we have learnt in our brief time here) might go down well, especially if you're planning a summer holiday here next year!

The tips are simple, as you would expect....put sun lotion on and drink lots of water....luckily at many tourist spots there are watering holes where you can fill up your bottles for free. In mountianous areas, the water is safe and delicious, often coming straight from streams in the mountain (It is not advised to drink tap water, you might end with a funny bug or two).

For those of you who often find yourselves on the menu for mosquitoes then a repellent of sorts is necessary. They come at you with full force and you end up with several bites all over your body. I know they love my blood because I wake up covered from head to toe while Oliver has none, I guess I act as his repellent.

In South Korea, food and drink are one of the best and most popular ways to ward of the heat.

With regards to drinks, you walk into a convenience store buy a sachet of ice-coffee (or tea, or latte, or whatever grabs your fancy) and you take a cup of ice from the freezer, you pour the sachet into the ice and Bob's your uncle you have a delicious refreshing drink. Beer....I don't think I need to explain.

Suggested food...Neangmyeon (cold noodles served with a refreshing cold broth), Samgyetang ( A chicken served in a broth with a mixture of spices and herbs, Ice-cream (available in an array of flavours pretty much everywhere), Pat-ping-su (fresh fruit, cream and red bean paste served on a bed of crushed ice).

And if these tips don't help and your simply can't handle the heat go inside...anywhere...and you will be surrounded by the awesomeness that is air-conditioning! Aaa, the joys of modern technology!

Post by Claudia

Friday, August 27, 2010

UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan

On our recent trip to Gyeongju and then Busan, we made it our mission to not only enjoy the splendour that is Korean food and custom, but to also go out, and actively experience the culture and history that is so abundant in this wonderful country. Gyeongju is practically the hub of one of Korea's three great dynasties, the Silla Dynasty, which reigned from 57B.C-935. With this being as it is, there is an huge amount to be seen and experienced in Gyeongju, most of it, obviously, relating to the Silla Dynasty.


Having left Gyeongju, we moved on to Korea's second largest city after Seoul, the wonderful harbour city of Busan. Busan was a truly amazing experience. We headed in to Busan, not too sure what to expect, having previously only been to Seoul, as far as big cities in Korea go. Busan is more than a scaled down version of Seoul. It has a life that is all its own. I'm not sure what it stems from, but my guess is that the energy in Busan stems from it being a coastal town. Back home, in South Africa, coastal towns have a very definite vibe to them that is not to be found anywhere inland.


As part of our 'cultural tour' we figured we'd go explore some of the historically significant places that are to be found in Busan. One of these was the UN Memorial Cemetery, located in the Uamdong area of Busan. Looking at it from the outside, there is not much that hints at the significance of the cemetery. The entrance is very clean and simple, with a uniformed guard standing at the main gate to great you upon entry. Walking through the main gate, you see a couple of signs, which guide you to the various parts of the cemetery. One thing that stands out in my mind, was a gold plaque attached to the main gate, simply stating that this is a cemetery and the utmost respect must be shown to the deceased resting inside.


The first part of the cemetery we had a look at was the actual grave sites.

The cemetery is broken down into various sections, which soldiers being buried with their fellow countrymen.
Walking through the cemetery, it is incredibly haunting and disturbing, when one reads the inscriptions on the graves:



These are three random graves. What bothers me is the age of the soldiers that put their lives on the line. Most of the graves had numbers ranging from 19-24 on them. There we several graves with soldiers older than 25, and also a bothersome amount with soldiers younger than 19. There is also a special memorial in place for the youngest soldier who died during the war, J. P. Daunt, a 17 year old Australian boy.


I have walked through many a cemetery, and never been moved the way that this place moved me. People die. That is a fact of life. People die at the age of 80, and unfortunately many people die much younger. The people buried in this cemetery didn't die. They gave their lives for others. These were not soldiers defending their own country (the exception being the Korean soldiers), these were soldiers fighting under the banner of the UN, in order to defend South Korea during the  Korean War.

                                       

Walking through the cemetery, and passing grave after grave after grave, and seeing that most of these soldiers were younger than I am now is haunting and moving. Claudia, who is usually quite composed, started crying after being completely overwhelmed by the insanity of it all. It's difficult to comprehend how so many people were so willing to give their lives for the sake of others.

I take my hat off, and bow deeply, to the soldiers that gave their lives in aid of others during this and any other war!



It is a properly moving experience to walk through a cemetery like this, one is simply beyond being able to put it in words. One needs to visit a place like this, and take it all in on a more personal level. Standing in front of hundreds of graves, reading the names of soldiers and the messages left by loved ones, makes it all too real - just how scary and destructive any war is.

                                     

This is the Wall of Remembrance memorial, which is basically built up of dozens of meters of walls, each wall inscribed with the name of a Soldier who died during the war.

                                     

Seeing a wall like this makes one wonder. It genuinely makes you sit down and think about how humans (or just Hollywood) have absolutely glorified war. How the soldier leaving on his tour through wherever is a brave hero who will do his country and his family proud. Men that serve their own countries, out of their own free will are brave. Men who serve other countries out of their own free will are heroes.

Brave and heroic as it might be, seeing this many names written on a wall in memory of these dead soldiers' forces you to realise just how nonsensical and absurd war really is.

                                      

"May you, who died fighting under the UN flag for freedom and peace, rest in peace!"

Post by Oliver

Thursday, August 26, 2010

SA Blog Awards

Hi all!!!

We have a small favour to ask!!! PLEASE NOMINATE US!!! Now is your last chance, nominations close tomorrow.

SA Blog Awards 2010 is here and they celebrate successful South African bloggers in numerous categories. We need your help!

Just click on the link below and enter your email address and you are done

 http://website.sablogawards.com/2010/nominate?blog=www.cokoreanadventure.blogspot.com&category=5,8,9
They will then send you a confirmation email and you will need to click on the URL to confirm your vote.


Suggested categories for nomination:

1: Best overseas SA blog,

2: Best new blog,

3: Best photographic blog,


Thanks so much you awesome awesome people!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

There's something fishy in Busan


The Jagalchi Fish Market is a cultural experience in itself, it is filled with so many sights, sounds and smells that vistors easily get consumed by the place for a couple of hours.

It is the largest fish market in Korea and when I say large I mean HUGE. There is a massive outside market where all sorts of fish (already dead) and other fresh produce are sold and then there is the indoor market where all the fish is sold alive.


For those of you who love the flavours of the sea (like we do...hmmmmm) this market is for you and for those of you who are fussy about the fish you eat then this place is also for you because there is such a variety of seafood that you are bound to find something you like.



 We were expecting to see meat there that shouldn't be there, like dolphin, but to our pleasant surprise we saw none. The only out of place fish we saw were two small sharks, which had obviously been accidently caught in the fishermen's nets. Furthermore, they didn't fly off the shelf like we expected because when we went back to the market a few hours later, they were still there. So I guess Shark meat isn't as sought after as I thought (I am purely basing this assumption purely on this one incident).

There were many small restaurants around the market which fried up their fresh fish with an array of delicious smelling spices. Other than ordinary fish, one of the most common items we saw for sale were octopi, but there were always alive and always trying their best to get out of the bucket of water they were being kept in.


Other common items included dried quid, sea urchins, giant crabs, small turtles, and sole. All of these were also available to be eaten at the fish market and you could decide just how fresh you would like it. Outside they had set dishes but at the indoor market you could walk past tanks of live fish, choose the one you like, watch them chop off its head and go upstairs and have it prepared the way you like it (whether that is fried or raw is up to you).

If you are animal lover and like to remain ignorant as to where you food comes from and how it is killed ten you might need to do some mental preparation before you go to the market because you WILL see one or two things that just don't sit well with you.


This is also the cheapest seafood you will find in Korea because the market is on the harbour which means that there is a constant supply of fish coming in! However, they will try take advantage if you are a foreigner so have your wits about you.

Like I said earlier though you can also buy other items at the market, such as giant green chillies (you never know how hot they will be. They are either sweet and make for a delicious snack or they are piping hot and ruin the rest of your meal and your next morning, if you know what I mean)


Despite the great prices and variety Oliver and I didn't eat at the fish market that day because we had had a bad experience at a restaurant the night before where live octopi where thrown on a grill right in front of our eyes.... But looking back it is one of our greatest regrets that we did not eat at the market and we are already planning to go back to Busan simply to eat at the market. I think it is a cultural encounter we deprived ourselves of!

Either way, the fish market is a great place to go and explore, even if you don't eat any fish, just walking around the harbour and market are a real treat!!!!

Post by Claudia

Monday, August 23, 2010

Technogasm

So. Again we went to the fascinating city that is the capital of South Korea, Seoul. Everytime we go there, the city amazes me, blows my mind and shows me something new and exciting. It really is a special place. Anyone who visits South Korea has to make an effort to visit Seoul. The only issue is that Seoul is so incredibly huge that it would literally take weeks to see the whole city. Unless you have previously visited places like New York or Tokyo, it's difficult to fully comprehend the scale of Seoul. As a South African for example, what we consider a big city, Johannesburg, absolutely pales in the shadow of Seoul, in terms of sheer size. It is a definite must see.


The purpose of our visit this time was to go to the 13th annual Seoul Fringe Festival, which is a somewhat youth oriented, contemporary art and performance festival, held in the young and vibey areas surrounding the Hongik University. The festival runs over a period of 2 weeks and caters to all sorts of performance and art lovers, with all sorts of things happening. On a daily basis, there are exhibitions, bands playing, dramas, performance arts, etc. etc. etc.
It is a very cool place to go and visit.

However, before we went off to enjoy ourselves at the festival, we needed to make a stop somewhere. On a previous occasion we had stumbled upon a place called Technomart. We figured, OK, a large store where we can buy all sorts of electronic goods and gadgetry. Boy, were we right! But wow, were we wrong about the size of the place. This is a electronic goods store you can lose yourself in, spiritually, and quite literally. It is MASSIVE! There are 8 floors, each one housing all sorts of goods. The floors are broken down into sub categories, with X-amount of floors being dedicated to digital cameras and domestic appliances, and X-amount to computers and gaming, etc. The place has everything.


We went to Technomart to buy an electric razor for me, and to buy a hard drive, that we can store our electronic treasures on. The razor was first on the list. We found a store selling razors almost immediately, but figured we'd keep looking around to see if we can find some better deals. The issue is that, as mentioned, this place is so massive, that often you will find a store or vendor, and later on decide that you want to go back to him/her, and will struggle to find the store again. Often you will then settle for doing business with someone else. We found that most of the vendors all hover around very similar prices for similar items. Another problem is that of being side tracked by the sheer amount of awesomeness. There really is just so much to see and look at that you find yourself just browsing everywhere, with no real goal in mind. Just staring.

Items number 2 was the harddrive, which we managed to organise with relative ease and in decent time. A lot of (I would say most) of the vendors/store clerks don't speak much English, but if you go there with a pre existing idea of what you want to buy, it's easy enough to find out what the item is in Korean, and write it down and just show it to them. Plus, a huge amount of electronics and gadgets share their English name with Konglish, so it's basically the same word anyway.



The great thing is that Technomart is linked to the subway system, so you can jump out of the tube, walk a few metres and you're in fornt of the entrance to Technomart. The station you would get out at is Gangbyeon station, on line 2. Really easy and convenient.


Technomart is really just a joyfest for anyone with a slight inkling towards the electronic persuasion, be it cameras, PCs, game consoles, games, etc. etc. They even cater for the select few people with a fetish for house hold electronics! Technomart is an awesome place that I want to go back to over and over, simply getting lost in the mazes of electronic wonders!






post by Oliver

Friday, August 20, 2010

A glimpse of my little monsters

Here are photos of some of the cool things I have been able to do in class! I haven't got many photos but hey I said a glimspe didn't I.

I enjoy teaching! I alway have. Although I was a little strict in the beggining (I had to show the little guys who was boss) I have now been able to ease off a bit because they are now (for the most part) all doing their homework and treating me with respect! So now it's time to have fun!

With one of my younger classes yesterday we ended up in fits of laughter because they were hiding their arms away and I had no idea where they were it was a serious tragedy but then, as if by some sort of magic, their arms were back. PHEW! what a relief, I don't know what I would have told their parents if they went back armless. It was a lot of fun to be silly and the kids loved it!

I have also started shooting my gun. It is a powerful weapon! My forefinger and thumb make for a formidable opponent.  My strategy is to run around the school going BANG BANG and shooting as many unsuspecting kids as I can! It's fun to see them jump and attempt to retaliate!!! The joys of being a kid again!

Sorry I said I would show you pics...here they are, these are some of the fun crafts we have been able to do:

We made monster muffins...URG!!!

We also made some awesome masks!

Although teaching is not always fun...there are days when you want to cry because kids lack enthusiasm, I'm tired, and no homework has been done! But for the most part it is great and an awesome way to take a year's break from your ordinary routine!!!

Being near kids helps you to be a kid again!!!hahaha!!!

Post by Claudia

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What's that noise?

About 6 weeks ago, we had a slight change in our schedules, which prompted us to leave the house considerably earlier to go and do our morning exercise. This was also when a slight change of season seemed to happen. It was right around the time when Korea decided to get HOT AS HELL!

We were walking to Wonju Tattoo, and there were somewhat strange noises coming from the surrounding trees and bush areas. Very rhytmic, humming, buzzy noises. Coming from South Africa, we are used to hearing dozens of different bird calls everyday, and even more so when we go to the bush for a holiday (vacation). So naturally we figured...it's a bird. Being ever so curious, I wanted to see this bird. I started looking...nothing. So the following day, and several times after that I kept looking for this mysterious bird, that makes this ridiculously loud noise, to no avail. Eventually Claudia said to me:"I bet you it's not a bird, it's probably an insect." "Not a chance. I wanna see the insect that can make THAT sound!", I said in my best 'I know better than you' voice.

video

Weeks kept going by with us not seeing the bird that could make that noise. Until one day we saw the bird. It was a cricket. And a particularly ugly looking one at that. Somewhat of a demon cricket. Very dark brown splotchy colouring, which explains why we could never see them in the trees, with big eyes and a set of transluscent wings. Very eerie looking creatures. But somehow their appearance has explained their sound...very odd.



The noise has been everywhere you go. From 4 in the morning, until quite late at night. It becomes somewhat of an irritating noise, until you just dont pay it any more attention. And as it seems to be cooling off here now, the noise also seems to be slowly fading away. It's sure as hell not a sound I'm gonna miss while trying to sleep at 5.30 AM!

Goodbye dear crickets!

post by oliver

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A birthday in Wonju

Friday the 13th was my birthday (whoop whoop) and what a great day it was!


It started out quite well! I was surprised with cake, chocolates and flowers at school!!! It was great! By the time the end of the day came I was so stuffed with cake it was unbelieveable!


Little did I realise that the party fun had just begun! During vacation, mine and Oliver's schedules are different. I leave for work earlier and get back home three hours before him. So I was not expecting what came next.


Oliver had littered our entire apartment with postits of him telling me happy birthday and giving me kisses.


The only problem was that Oliver had accidently locked our living-room door (we have one of those weird doors that if you push in the button and close it, it locks). Unfortunatley for me, I had no key so I spent the next half an hour trying to be like MacGyver and attempting to pick the lock!!! That did not work out too well for me! Eventually I had to resort to calling the locksmith! heehe!


And what did I find in the living-room?...even more postits and presents!!! Aren't I special?


Once Oliver got home...we had a quick piece of Baskin Robbins Ice-cream cake. Oh my word!!!! It was filled with nuts, chocolate and all sorts of other yummy things!!!



However, I was hungry for food. The amount of cake I had consumed and made me hungry for something salty.


So we headed out for some samgyeopsal! We went to a local resturaunt which has some of the best tasting pork ever and it was served nice and thick!!! yummy!


After that, we were off to Wa Bar to throw some darts and have some beers with friends!! It ended up turning into quite a crazy night and we only got home after 4am!!! Phew!


I woke up on Saturday still fully clothed with my feet hanging off the end of the bed, I must have passed out! I got up to get some water and found myself laughing when I walked back into the bedroom. Oliver had fallen asleep on top of a bowl of ice-cream cake. The ice-cream had melted and he was covered in the stuff. Clearly he had passed out too!



That's needless to say that we both woke up with massive headaches butthey were accompanied by huge smiles...it had been a great night, with great people!!!


Thank you everyone for making my birthday a special affair!!!


Post by Claudia

Friday, August 13, 2010

Great Gwangalli Beach

Busan is a large port in Asia and the second biggest city in South Korea. Although it's bigger brother Seoul has a lot to offer (and I mean a lot) Busan somehow manages to balance the relaxed atmosphere of a coastal town with the hustle and bustle of city living! So yes, we love Busan!

If ever you find yourself in Busan but you are not too sure where to stay, may I suggest Gwangan.

Gwangan (like most parts of Korea) has an individuality and a charm that is uniquely its own.

I have never seen skyscrapers so close to the ocean with a massive bridge stretching out over the sea. Gwangalli Beach was really something totally new for us.

When we tell people we went to Gwangalli Beach, many are surprised that we didn't go the South Korea's most famous beach "Haeundae Beach".

Well here's why we didn't:

Haeundae Beach is literally covered with umbrellas and people for as far as the eye can see! It is also more for people that are looking for a spring break type of vibe! So if that's what you after this is the place for you but unfortunatly it was not what we were after.

We were after something a little more relaxed, and Gwangalli Beach was perfect! Although it still has many people on it, it is nothing in comparison to Haeundae. Furthermore, it has a more family orientated, relaxed vibe. The type of place where you take long walks on the beach and try to find awesome sea shells (which we did by the way!).

Here is a photo of Gwangalli at night....spectacular isn't it?

However, one of the most impressive features about this beach is the bridge that covers the entire horizon. They have these awesome little DIY machines where you can take a photo of yourself with the bridge, for free! Pretty cool so we got a daytime and night time one:




Oliver got some great panoramics of the bridge, the symbol of Gwangalli Beach:


Another really cool thing about Gwangalli Beach is that on weekend the road running parallel to the beach is closed and takes on quite a festive atmosphere. There are street performances everywhere including men on stilts, jazz bands and puppet shows. What's more is you can have your picture painted or sketched by one of the many street artists or have a drink at a beach facing pub.


Just a short distance from the beach there is a complex which has tons of amusement park rides. It was here that I realised I am a complete and utter wimp! I screamed like baby on every ride.


Even the giant ferrece wheel got me going, we had such an amazing view (pity I was scared senseless).


We spent most of our days, exploring downtown Busan including the fish market, and the Busan tower (we will tell you more in posts to come) but Gwangalli Beach was a fantastic way to end the day!

It has the holiday vibe down to an art!

Just remember, if you want a budget deal for food and accommodation, go off the main road because if you don't you might find a big hole burning in your wallet.

Other than that, it is a great holiday destination!!!!

Post by Claudia

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bat in a cage.

Some people might be wondering, what the hell is there to do in South Korea...?

A lot, I can tell you. Aside from the usual stuff you might do with your friends back home, such as going for dinner, having some drinks or watching a movie (most movies here are shown in English with Korean subtitles) there are several other interesting and fun things that one can do to amuse oneself.

We have taken a particular liking to a certain 'past time' that we just have never encountered back home in South Africa. The thing I am talking about: Batting Cages. More specifically, Baseball batting cages. In SA there is no baseball following ( or maybe a very small one), and so we don't have these great facilities back home (not that I know of or have seen).

Sure we have Cricket nets, but the one problem with those is that you have to bring your own gear and your own bowler (e.g. a friend of yours, to bowl the ball). Carrying a huge bag with the balls and bats and padding is a little tedious if you're not going to spend the whole day playing cricket. And this is where baseball batting cages come in particularly handy. You have to bring nothing. The bat is supplied, there is a pair of gloves you can use, and there is a never ending supply of balls. No stress.

All you have to do is throw in your 1000Won, and off you go. Apparently there are a few smaller cities around Korea where the batting cages cost 500 Won, which is almost nothing. So, after throwing in your money(having put on the gloves and picked up the bat first) you stand ready and wait for the balls to be flung at you at high speeds and try to hit them. I have never counted them, but I reckon that the 1000Won gets you about 20 or so balls, all flung at you courtesy of a 'throwing machine'. Often there will be 4 or 5 different cages, each with varying ball speeds, so you can go from am to pro in just 5000Won, or so.

It really is a great way to spend a few minutes, especially after dinner, or if you just want to blow off some steam. They are a hell of a lot of fun, and I'm already looking forward to my next cage experience!

Post by Oliver

Saturday, August 7, 2010

That's one way to find a meal

On our first night in Gyeongju we felt ourselves overcome with the desire to have some Dakgalbi (stir-fried marinated chicken), yummy, one of our favourite dishes.

So we hit the streets, we are used to there being Dakgalbi places on every street corner, but Gyeongju, to our amasement is quite dead at night. In fact we struggled to find a decent place open which wasn't on the tourist path.

So Oliver took the lead, turn left here, a right there, and another turn and yes before we knew it we were lost...horribly lost. So in true Claudia fashion I decided to take charge. Adamant that I could get us to our beloved Dakgalbi. But all I did was get us even more lost! Hmmmm!

Before we knew it we had been walking around for two hours, were starving, my feet were dying, and we had ended up where we had started. Dammit!

So we thought another approach was needed. We hopped into a taxi but didn't know the name of any place where we could eat. So I confidently said Dakgalbi to the taxi driver, in my typical mumbled Korean. She repeated, or at least I thought she repeated Dakgalbi. I smiled, and responded with a YES, VERY HUNGRY!

She drove for about ten minutes and we were in the heart of what felt like local territory (how did we miss this?), she did a couple of turns up small winding roads and before we knew it we were outside a restaurant (HALLELUJAH!!!).

We confidently stepped inside, greeted the host, and looked up at the menu anticipating the awesomeness of our Dakgali meal ahead! To our shock, there was no Dakgalbi on the menu, nothing! URG!

Stay or leave? stay or leave?

Skrew it, we have had Dakgalbi so many times, lets try something new! And I am so so happy we did!

We ended up eating Dwaegi galbi Jjim (steamed pork in a sauce that makes you want to cry it is so good). And in typical Korean fashion it was accompanied by several side dishes and salad leaves. That together with some beer and soju made for a great first dinner in Gyeongju!

Dwaegi galbi Jjim in a no fuss pot which comes straight off the stove
Some of the side dishes which accompany the Dwaegi galbi Jjim


Highly recommended!


Post by Claudia

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A must see: Gyeongju

It is called Beautiful Gyeongju for a reason and it should be a must stop place for anyone who is living in or plans to visit South Korea.


Beyond the breathtaking beauty and charm of Gyeongju it is also the historical and cultural centre of South Korea.


In order to fully appreciate what Gyeongju has to offer I would say that at least 3 days is needed but you can easily spend 5 or 6 days there and not get bored.


Oliver is busy working through his photos and we will put them up in the gallery once they are finished. Mine are just to give you an idea, although they simply do not do Gyeongju justice!

We only had 3 days in Gyeongju and this is what we got up to:

Day 1:
  • Arrived in Gyeongju at 11:00
  • Found a motel,which was easy to do as there were so many. We landed a pretty sweet deal paying only 35,000 Won a night.
  • Then we grabbed our cameras and headed for our first tourist destination, the Gyeongju National Museum. This is a great place to get an idea of the Shilla history in Gyeongju and the museum is massive so you can easily spend a couple of hours there. Oh, and the best part, it's free (or at least they let us in for free).
  • After that, we took a three minute walk to Anapji pond which is an amazing site to behold and is just a nice place to be in.
  • Then we took another three minute walk and ended up in valley full of flowers, wow!
  • Then we saw the Far East's oldest astrological observatory, Cheomseongdae, in Wolseong Park.What a great start to a wonderful holiday!
The ancient astrological observatory!

One side of Anapji Pond

Day 2:
  • Rise and shine, got a bun and some coffee from a place aptly called Coffee and Bun. Mmmmm!
  • Then bought some Gyeongju Bread (small round pastry type things filled with sweet red-bean paste) which were over priced but a must try nonetheless.
  • Then we made use of Gyeongju's very tourist friendly bus system which takes you to all of the main tourist destinations.
  • On day 2, we were heading for Bulguksa, one of South Korea's oldest and most well known temples.
  • It was incredible, the only downside was how unbelievably hot it was.
  • We got to see a unique three story pagoda, a dabotap, wonderful gardens, intriguing Buddhist interiors, and unusual stone formations.
  • After that, it was a 15 minute bus ride up the mountain (way up the mountain) to Seokguram Grotto to look at a Buddha statue which had been carved into the side of a mountain. The walk to the Buddha was great but actually viewing it was a bit uncomfortable because of the mass amounts of tourists that were there.
  • After all that, we headed back downtown to the valley full of flowers. We hired two bikes and did some leisurely riding through the valley and a neighbouring forest...it was great fun, except for the fact that my bum was dead!
  • Our last stop for the day was Tumili Park where we got to see hill mounds which are actually tombs and then we got to go inside one....
The lush forests on the walk up to Seokguram Grotto.

Two of the grassy hill tombs.

The rock formations inside Bulguksa Temple....there were thousands of them!


The pagoda and dapotop inside Bulguksa Temple.



The entrance to Bulguksa Temple
Day 3:
  • We made our way to Eastern Gyeongju, the more modern part area. We wanted to go to a Shilla park but it was too expensive for our liking. Instead we headed to Gyeongju cultural park which was nice but lacked the charm we had encountered on our previous days.
  • We did however get to go to a massive fossil museum and check out a really large building that had been hollowed out to look like a pagoda.
  • We then went back to the valley (it is so beautiful it deserves many visits) bought a couple of beers and sat and watched the world go buy until we were ready for dinner. Hmmmm, a great finish if you ask me!
Day 4:
We packed our bags and headed on a one hour bus ride to Busan...but details on that in a later post.
Some Gyeongju tips:
  • On arrival stop off at the tourist office and get a map, it will help you plan your stay.
  • Have an international driver's licence handy. You can hire scooters there for 24hours for 45,000 Won which is a steal considering how perfect Gyoengju is for scooters (Trust me, our only regret from the trip is that we didn't have an international driver's licence).
  • Keep a water bottle handy. Most places have fountains with fresh and clean water so you can top up your bottle there instead of constantly buying new bottles.
  • Try not to go in the heat of summer (like we did) it gets incredibly hot and sometimes pushes you inside when all you want to be is outside. Spring or Autumn would be ideal.
  • Take it in...it is truely amazing...stop taking photos for a moment and just take in how incredible your surroundings are!

I hope this post will come in handy on your future trips to South Korea, and if you weren't planning on visiting South Korea, Gyeongjyu is one reason why you really, really should consider it!!!
Post by Claudia