Hi from Gyeongju! Our day today was a very culture and historic filled day today. Something to note though, the hotel breakfast was really good. There was a good mix of continental and korean, but they had local foods like lychee, dragon fruit, papayas, the yakult yogurt, etc. But anyways, Gyeongju has a population of 250,000 and is three times bigger in area than Seoul (which has a population of 9 million). Most of the trees here are cherry blossoms so in spring the whole city turns white and in the fall the city turns a red. There’s a river that spilts Gyeongju into an Old Town and New Town. In Old town, the mac height to build is five floors, and to repair toilets and dig down, you have get permission from the government because there are so many relics in the ground.
Our first visit was to Daereungwon which is a famous tomb. There are thousands of tombs scattered and the taller the mound, the more important the buried person is. We also went to a tomb called Cheonmachong AKA the flying horse tomb. There were 11,000 relics found in just that tomb, and one of them was roman glass transportated through the silk road (Korea was the last stop in the trade route).
The next stop was an ancient and very famous astronomical observatory known as Anaj. It’s currently the oldest one in Asia and has 360 stones which represents 1 year in the lunar calendar. They used it to tell direction, the time of day, predict the fortune of the country, and see the most famous constellation- the big dipper.
Sidenote, the buildings here are all built in the Korean traditional buildings. Even the Starbucks! Lunch was veryyy interesting. It was a special occasion lunch so I counted like 17 different dishes (including side dishes). They served pork, beef, crab, shrimp, jumbo shrimp, octopus, and a lot of different side dishes. Haha so much food and it was really good!
After lunch, we went to a royal bridge that was renovated for 15 million won. It was used as a pathway to the palace. Then the nationally recognized museum that held many many relics. The Buddha statues were missing part of their nose because the superstition was that if you grind up the stone from Buddha’s nose and drink it, you’ll get a baby boy. Boys were preferred back in the day and families went as far as giving their daughters a boy name in the hopes that their next child will be a boy. But people these days prefer having girls!
After the museum, we went to the Royal Garden which has a beautiful pond in the “backyard” that is meant to be a taoism paradise. The garden is a popular place for weddings and kdrama scenes! We then went to two Coincidently today was Buddha’s birthday and of all the days in the year, today was the only day they allow tourists to walk in and near Buddha. We reallllly lucked out! The other temple, Bulguksa temple, is the most famous one in Korea.
After our visits, we went back to our hotel, relaxed for a while, got garlic chicken and a korean pizza for dinner, worked on our presentations, and ended the night early.