Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Challenge #8: Gyeonju

Yesterday was a long, full day.  I got up and bonded with the treadmill before we started off on our adventure.  We traveled to a nearby city called Gyeonju.  (Note: if you ever go there, do not get off at the train stop called Seogyenju, it is the wrong part of the city and it will take you forever to get to all the historical stuff).  Our first stop of the day was UNESCO World Heritage site: Bulguksa.   Basically it is a Buddhist temple that was really important back in the day.  It was built in 528 and destroyed in 1593.  (They rebuilt in the 1970s and that is what we saw)
This is the entry to the main temple area.
I think we have seen too many Buddhists temples.  The first one I visited in Korea, I was like, "ooo, this is so interesting."  Now I am like, "this is exactly like the last one we saw."
Click on the pic and it gets bigger
We did discover one difference about this temple area.  There was an area where people had stacked rocks.  I am not sure why or what the significance of the stacking of rocks is, but it looked neat-o.

I am not sure if I mentioned, this, but it was cold and windy.  Really cold and windy!  After we walked around Bulguska and had eaten our PB&J sandwiches, we headed back down the mountain and to the Gyeonju National Museum.  This place was pretty cool.  Here we discovered a really big bell. 

According to our touristy book, this bell was made in 771 and did not ring the first time they tried to ring it.  So they did the only logical thing (actually NOT logical at all to my 21st century American mind).  They melted the bell down and mixed in a body of a young girl.  Her last words were, "Emille!" (the word for mother at the time) and so it is now named the Emille Bell (emille rhymes with simile).  I guess it is the biggest bell in the country.  Of course, none of the aforementioned information was on the plaque by the bell....

We also walked around some museums (there are several different museum buildings all within the National Museum area).  For the most part, the museums contained jewelry, bowls, daggers, and horse riding equipment.  After the museum, we walked around this big park with tons of dead grass.  (This is where our trip started getting anti-climactic.)  We were in search of an astronomical tower.    My amazing husband's school had built a replica of  this tower out of milk cartons.  I was really excited to see the real thing.  We found it.  Not as large as I imagined.  The name of it is: Cheomseongdae  (sorry it does not rhyme with any other word that I know)  It is amazing to me that this was constructed in the 7th century and is still around today. 

The last stop on our journey was Tumuli Park.  There were lots of big mounds of dirt (they looked perfect for sledding!)  I guess they were burial places.  We got to go into one of the tombs and see how people (by people I mean royalty) were buried back in the day.  They were buried with a ton of swords and bowls.  Seriously, I think every bowl that the king ever ate of was in that tomb.  It was interesting to see how people thought of "the after life" and how people tried to prepare for it. 
See the mounds?  Perfect for sledding or rolling down



To end our day we tried to find this quaint little restaurant that our touristy book described (It said it had Thia chicken salad on the menu!).  After walking around for a long time (okay maybe it was not that long, but it was so cold and windy that it made it feel like a long time and I had been hungry for the last hour too) I finally gave up.  My amazing husband and I gave in and opted for McDonalds.  Ohmygoodness!!!!!!!  I have missed America and did even know how much.  We had an enjoyable train ride home and talked about our favorite parts of the day.  Did I mention that this is the city that I will be returning to in 10 1/2 weeks to run a marathon through?  (minor detail).  It will be fun to see how spring has changed the city.  Hopefully it will not be windy and cold on that day!

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