Today was a day of travel and relaxing. In the morning we said farewell to Seoul and hello to Gyeongju. Seoul was brilliant, but I will admit, I was absolutely ready for some space after being in such a large city. The journey to Gyeongju itself was brilliant; the countryside of Korea is a sight to behold. The terrain is extremely mountainous and forested, but thankfully, the road system never feels as precarious as some American interstates do in the mountains. Further, the rest stops are absurdly nice. I absolutely, positively demand that the United States introduce rest stops with Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, various restaurants, and so on.
By the time we arrived in Gyeongju, we had all been sitting on the bus for several hours, and thus, were ready to stretch our legs. As such, I chose to take a lengthy walk around the lake by our hotel. For all of the very obvious things that are different about Korea, I don’t know that I ever picked up on a far more subtle one: people seem far cheerier. Perhaps this is all coincidence, and by no means am I saying that people in the United States are miserable, but every face I saw today looked happy to be alive, walking through the beautiful nature. I saw a young child begging his father for something today, and after being denied over and over, he simply moved on with his life. Maybe I am jaded because my little sister can be particularly difficult, but I don’t know that I have heard a single child cry while in this country. I am sure it has happened, but I also suspect there is some sort of cultural explanation for the public attitudes of Korean residents.
I am exceptionally excited to be in this smaller community, and I am ecstatic to see the history of Gyeongju tomorrow during our tour of the city. Further, I am ready to see how different the culture is in a less urban environment. I wish I had more to report for today, but frankly, it has been a pleasure to be able to rest; this Saturday was uneventful.