After staying around town for a few weeks I decided it was time for me hop on a bus. I was originally going to visit a friend in Ulsan but plans changed and we're going to have to reschedule. After hearing from a few friends I decided it was back to Gyeongju for me. I arrived before my friend Sara so having beautiful weather, I decided to start by walking to Daereungwon Tumuli Park, one of many world heritage sites in Gyeongju. This is where most of the royal tombs of Gyeongju are - some lay outside the gates but I wanted to get the full experience so I paid the whopping 1500won (< $1.50) to enter.
Next stop, Cheomseongdae Observatory, only a few minutes away on foot. Everything in Gyeongju is gorgeous, my walk to the observatory was through more tombs and beautiful fields of flowers and green! So much green - something I seem to be lacking in my city, I get more cement and dirt... Anyways the observatory was built during the reign of Queen Seonduk in the Shilla dynasty and is the oldest existing observatory in the far east. Just up the hill from the observatory is the Gyerim forest. It is said that King Talhae one day entered the forest after hearing a hen calling. The king found a golden casket hanging from a tree holding a smart looking boy who was crying. Thus the forest got the name Gyerim, after the hen.
I made my way back to the station to meet up with Sara and Amanda for an afternoon of shopping. Sara has a Korean wedding to attend next weekend and wanted to find some traditional gifts to give the bride and groom. Amanda had heard about a folk craft village towards the outside of town so we jumped on a bus to explore. The shopping area focuses on beautifully handcrafted ceramics. I may have to go back to buy some Birthday and Christmas presents - or things for myself, although it's hard not knowing where I'll be a year from now.
I spent the night at my friend Son's house, a more relaxed night than my previous visit. He had been wanting to go bowling, but after failed attempts at getting a group together, we decided to just go the two of us. The next morning Son had to wake up early and meet a friend for a hike, but let me sleep in and let myself out. I decided to walk back towards town - I figured I had the time and it was gorgeous out so why not. I picked a new route as opposed to the rive route we took last time, passing more beautiful forests, the Gyeongju stadium, and a nice river crosswalk.
After about an hour I found myself at the station , where I took a quick rest and used to the toilet, and then it was off to Anapji pond. The area around Anapji includes a representation of the palace during the Unified Silla period. The original area included many buildings, Imhaejeon hall, a garden and after 674 a lake and artificial hill to plant rare flowers and trees, and to raise birds and animals. Eventually it was time to head towards the bus terminal, once again a beautiful walk. Every time I visit Gyeongju I feel at peace, and I have a feeling that has a lot to do with the rich history there. The city is very tourist friendly, both walkable and bikeable, making it an enjoyable place to spend a relaxing weekend.
Where to start. After living in this country for three years I have memories, experiences and stories galore. I'll now always be a bit partial to the Land of the Morning Calm. Filled with delicious foods, beautiful nature and friendly people, I'm always happy to return.