Thursday, October 30, 2014

Downtown Gyeongju

When I booked my [promo] flight to South Korea, I didn't really know where else to go aside from Seoul. After a few Google searches, I read about a place called Gyeongju and immediately knew that I wanted to go there. It's the capital of the ancient kingdom in Korea called Silla so it's rich in culture and history. My worst subject in high school may be History (because I'm really bad at remembering things) but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in it.

After having lunch below Bulguksa, I went to the bus stop to head downtown. There I met a French traveler who, apparently, was also heading downtown. It was great meeting him because finally I was able to speak to someone in straight English lol. We were headed to the same places so I had a travel buddy that afternoon! You see, that's one of the things I like about solo travel-- you tend to meet new people from whom you can learn many new things.

We went first to the Daereungwon Royal Tombs. The tombs of the Silla Kingdom are marked by mounds of earth that look like hills. One of the tombs, Cheonmachong, is accessible to the public and there's even a nice exhibit inside where you can see some artifacts excavated from the tombs. 

They remind me of the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. (I haven't been there but I hope to visit soon!)

They also remind me of sinusoids! *nerd alert nerd alert*

After the tombs, we walked to the famous Cheomsongdae Observatory. Apparently, this astronomical observatory is a national treasure and was very important during the Silla Period. However, to be honest, it's quite underwhelming because it's small. Then again, it was built in the 7th century so I don't really expect a high very structure from that time period.

We walked to Wolseong Fortress which didn't have any traces of walls or a palace anymore but there's a structure there called the Seokbinggo Ice Storehouse which was interesting for me because it reminds me of the dungeon where Daenerys (Game of Thrones) locked up her dragons haha.

I can totally imagine Rhaegal and Viserion inside lol.

And then we walked to Anapji Pond, an artificial pond that is said to be a great example of Silla Kingdom landscaping. There were a few pavilions and one of them even housed an exhibit of relics excavated from the original pond. 

Finally, when we had nowhere else to go, we headed back to downtown. My first whole day in Gyeongju was not bad at all! It's a small city but it's fun because it's very walkable and the beautiful sights are not very far from downtown. The countryside vibe is such a great break from the hustle, bustle and pollution of Manila. Plus, I met new people which really made it a lot more fun!

A random house behind Cheomsongdae. There are so many traditional houses/structures in Gyeongju

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