This morning we travelled by subway and bus to Gyeongju, a coastal city northeast of Busan.
Before exploring Gyeongju, we took another bus into the countryside to visit Yangdong Folk Village, a traditional village dating back to the 1400s, now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Interestingly there are still people residing in many of the 160 houses, their cars and satellite dishes juxtaposed with their thatched roofs.
We took the bus back to Gyeongju and dropped our bags off at 141 Mini Hotel, where we're spending the night. (Funny story -- we actually couldn't find the hotel, having gotten off at the wrong bus stop, so we went into a pharmacy to ask for directions. The pharmacist ended up phoning the hotel and the hotel owner surprised us by showing up in his car to give us a ride!)
As it was too early to check in, we set out on foot to check out Seongdong Market, a huge covered market with stalls selling everything from seafood to produce to clothing.
We watched fishmongers expertly filleting fish and blanching octopi.
We dropped by the hotel to check in, then headed out to walk around the historic areas. Gyeongju is smaller and quieter than Busan and is rich in history, having been the capital of the ancient Silla kingdom; it's a lovely city to explore on foot. Our first stop was Tumuli Park, where large grassy mounds uniquely dot the landscape, each an ancient royal tomb.
From Tumuli Park we walked to Cheomseongdae, a humble appearing stone tower that long ago was used for stargazing. Built in the 7th century, it is actually the oldest surviving astronomical observatory in Asia. Its construction carefully incorporated symbolism; for instance, its 362 stones reflect the 362 days in the lunar year.
Our next stop was the Gyeongju National Museum, which we admittedly rushed through a little too quickly -- it was closing in 30 minutes. Fortunately it was free to enter.
A docent kindly led us through the galleries to point out highlights amongst the several-thousand artifacts on display. One of the most impressive was an ornate gold and jade crown excavated from the Cheonmachong tomb we had visited earlier.
|also spotted a doctor budha -- the Bhaisajyaguru Buddha (late 8th/early 9th century) --|
holding a medicine bowl, it is said to heal all illnesses, "even the disease of ignorance"
After walking around the pond we took a bus back to the hotel.
|our room had heated floors -- cosy|