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Korea 2009: Day 08: May 10

Packed and ready to go.

Woke up around 430ish to leave at 525ish to meet Ashley at 530 on the corner. Walked to the Express Bus Terminal and jumped on the 630 bus to Gyeoungju. It’s a good thing that the bus is actually comfortable, think an upgraded GO bus 😛

4 hours till we actually reach the gyeongju bus terminal, went by fast since we all fell asleep :P… got there, waited, and jumped on the tour bus we’re taking. we decided on this since we didnt have to bus around to each and every location, and we’d learn some historical stuff about the sites we visit as well. Although the tour was only in korean, we had ashley to help translate so we could learn stuff :D… there was also a couple from spain and a family from london, ontario.

Our first stop, a water thing with some crazy korean name o.o…, the last of its kind. connecting the ocean and a stream. it was rumoured to be an area where the King had parties but historical events have caused doubts. The King was said to be killed during a party at one of these locations but the assassination occurred during November, which did not make sense for the King to be partying outside. ….that’s what i remember from ashley’s translation. haha… but THAT was it. if we had to bus to that thing, we woulda skipped it in a fraction of a heartbeat…

Next, we stopped at a ‘Tomb Park’ an area where ancient tombs were amassed. it was similar to egyptian tombs, in which they are buried with golds items and sometimes with servants. they are buried than the tomb is built up around them then covered in soil. As time goes on the tomb would look like an almost natural hill. they’ve excavated most of the tombs but have also resealed them except for one called the ‘heavenly horse tomb’ named after the artifacts found inside. The park held the largest tomb built in gyeongju, which held a man, and then later, an addition was added for his wife. The articles inside, once exposed to the new air, began to rust and the pictures of who was actually buried, were blackened and lost forever.

Then we visited an Observatory which was built to resemble a well. Again, the last of its kind. It was built using 365 stones, the layers before the window represented past queens, and the layers above to represent the number of months, and 30 stones somewhere to represent the number of days in a month…. yea. they would have had to use a ladder in order to get to the top of the tower. The top wooden planks were positioned to point at each direction N S E W and from above, look like the chinese character for Well.

next stop, lunch! whee. it always seems that asian tours go to buffets…. altho i’m sure there’s a financial business reason in doing so… lol. this particular place tho, had the gyeongju specialty, a red-bean paste dessert in a special bread, it was really good!

Seokguram Grotto was next. Positioned at the top of the highest mountain in the Gyeongju area, a Buddha and several other supporting deities were built and a structure was built around them. a square room leading into a circular, representing the ground and earth leading to the enlightened land of buddha. Being built at the top, it was believed the Buddha would look over the entire city. If this mountain was overtaken, the whole city would be in danger, whatever battle was to take place would be over. The intricacies that go into the ancient building were astounding. The Buddha is placed a bit off-center in order for the sunlight to correctly shine through, bounce off the wall, and light up the Buddha’s face, instead of directly, which would create a shadow to be drawn across the face.

While the Japanese had control, the grotto was lost until a postman (i think) discovered a small hole and looked inside to discover the buddha. The Japanese then proceeded to try and dig up and move the whole structure to Japan. During this process, while trying to remove the actual Buddha, water began to spring up and they believed that the mountain would explode from that spot if the buddha was removed. They then proceeded to reroute the water only to find that it would be extremely difficult to move the structure without destroying it completely and stopped their efforts. The water was then used to create a fountain a bit lower than the grotto. However, the water was first used to keep the structure naturally cooler, which would in turn extend the lifespan of the statues.

AAaaand the last stop, Bulguksa Temple. We didnt really pay much attention to the explanations here and just explored and took pictures. One of the bridges was said to be the bridge that connected the earthly world with the Buddha’s land. And the grounds could be separated into four sections being the land of humans, monks, buddhas, and the main… buddha 0.o…

Nothing toooooo interesting there that i can remember. The tour guide even quizzed Ashley with some facts and she got it right 😉 lol… uhm… there was one very interesting thing that we wouldn’t have noticed. The sides of the staircases included a curve at the corner that mimicked the curve of the traditional korean shoes.

We got dropped off at our hotel for the night and instantly headed back out to get some fooooood. Since ashley is finally with us, she knew what to order when we went to a REAL korean bbq place. a plate of pork, beef, bottle of soju! mm… Ashley didnt really drink much but cassie and i finished off the bottle with a little help from KAREN! who doesn’t drink much at all, ever, which was nice and surprising for us 😀

and finally, karaoke. hah.
We went back to the hotel, which had a karaoke thing in the basement which was completely empty so we got an extra… 30 minutes or somethin for free. and sleep.

sorry. i had to stop writing this two days ago and just got back to it near the end, where the post seems to thin out to basic details – -;…

The Observatory, i’m sure there’s a korean name out there somewhere 😀

The Gates to the Monks’ area at Bulguksa

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