Thursday, May 3, 2012

Diamonds in the Rough

As it turns out, there are really beautiful things to see in Korea if you look hard enough. Over the last couple weekends we've seen Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul and took the (super freaking expensive) high speed train down to the city of Gyeongju. This entry is pretty much just going to be pics since I have so many to share! Wee!
So, getting to Gyeongbokgung Palace is pretty much a cinch. You just take the purple line to Gwanghamun Station and BAM, it's right there. This is a photo of the main throne room. You can see the National Folk Museum in the back right.
If you go to the Folk Museum at 2 on a Saturday or 3 on a Sunday, there's a show that involves the traditional farmer's dance and a puppet show. Ahh, the puppet show. This puppet show is about these spirits trying to slay a serpent that's terrorizing some old dudes? This would be my best guess. And obviously each spirit puppet has a huge red phallus protruding from it's little red puppet self. Upon slaying the serpent, one of the puppets takes a celebratory piss all over the musicians. As conservative as Koreans are about the female body (don't even think about wearing something that shows your shoulders or any part of your chest, you tank-topped slut!), there certainly are a whole lotta penises everywhere. Eg. Loveland on Jeju Island and an assortment of penis inspired art all over the country.
Beautiful Gyeongju! The main tourist path in Gyeongju includes this park, which consists of Wolseong Fortress, Gyerim forest and features the Cheomseongdae Observatory.
Observatory at night
Bulguksa Temple is renowned to be the prettiest in the country. And it's as beautiful as it is crowded. If you stick to the main sights in Gyeongju, expect to be surrounded by other tourists at all times.
Bridge at Bulguksa
Another major site is Seokguram Grotto where you can see this stone Buddha statue. The rules say no cameras, so all the Koreans just whip out their camera phones. Sneaky, sneaky.
Anapji Pond is right across from the National Museum. We've been to so many Korean history museums lately we didn't make it to this one honestly.
I highly recommend getting away from the highly touristed stuff though. My favorite part of the trip was seeing this rock carving. It's at the top of a mountain. We accidentally took the, uh, more challenging route to get to the top. So that sucked, but this was awesome. Oh also, the best way to get around Gyeongju is by bike. Everything's just a little too far to walk and the city is super bike friendly.
Also, the city and surrounding areas are covered in these old burial mounds which are pretty neat looking. As far as food goes, Gyeongju is famous for a special sort of bread filled with red bean paste. And there are Ssambap (lettuce/rice) restaurants everywhere. Three days would be the perfect amount to spend in Gyeongju. There are some things I REALLY wanted to see, but were too far from the city. Seriously, if you live/ever come to Korea, this is a must-do.

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