Gyeongju, a Hidden Gem in South Korea

Sometimes it is nice to relax after the exhaustion from spending a lot of time in the busiest cities. Gyeongju, a city that is so peaceful and effulgent, was far from being a busiest city, unlike Seoul or Busan that overrun with buildings, cars, and civilians. Gyeongju used to be the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla which ruled between the 7th to the 9th century. From this period, vast of ancient cultural sites still remain in this very city. I never heard of Gyeongju until I came across Buzzfeed’s article about visiting beautiful scenery in the world. Anajpi pond was on the list, hence the reason why we must explore Gyeongju despite how it was not a popular city to visit.

Lilo and I took the bus from Seoul to Gyeongju that took about 5 hours and costed us about 29,000 WON. The bus wasn’t Deaf-friendly. When the bus first stopped after about 4 hours, we weren’t sure if this was Gyeongju. We had to ask other passengers by pointing “Gyeongju” on the map and gestured “here?” (by pointing down to the ground). They shook their head. We figured it was Daegu, perhaps, because it was about 34 miles west from Gyeongju. When the bus stopped for the first time, we looked around quickly and asked the bus driver, “gyeongju?” with a strong Deaf accent and mispronouncing Gyeongju. Luckily, the bus driver understood and nodded. We like riding on the bus, but it was just not Deaf-friendly. We wished they would install the information device to let us know what’s the next stop instead of calling it out. Despite that, we felt relieved to arrive at the right city. We arrived there late in the evening and stayed at a host’s place from Couchsurfing site.

We started tackle almost everything from our list the next day.

We didn’t own a sim card at the time to use the data for directions. Therefore, we relied on a map of Gyeongju and walked on foot all day.

DSC_0871 (2)

Within first 15 minutes of walking, humidity hit us hard. We were sweating bullets, no kidding. There was no sign of local buses. We saw some people were biking around, but we weren’t sure where we could rent the bikes. Looking back, we should looked for it. If you visit this city, I recommend renting a bike!

We were roaming around and found this place. We aren’t sure what this place called since it wasn’t on our list, but if you do know, please inform us!

DSC_0872 testing again (1)   DSC_0872 testing again (2)

One of the building inside (in the left photo) possessed a lot of books in Korean. A nice place to relax on the floor under the roof, away from the hot angry sun. We wanted to sit down and relax under the roof there, but we weren’t quite sure if we were allowed to since people from the other building were peeking to see what we were doing.

Shilla dynasty’s early Korean kings’ tombs

DSC_0863 (2)

Not just my body was sweating profusely, but my eyes – they just can’t handle it. I lost my sunglasses back in Seoul, and my eyes are sensitive to certain rays of sun. As you can see in this photo above, I had to squint my eyes to avoid tearing up. Lilo laughed about how my facial expression were saying, “I can’t even.” We decided to visit the kings’ tombs. The mounds seemed very peaceful; we felt a little tempted to get on the top of the mound but that would be rude.

Sunflower Field

DSC_0006 (3)

We stumbled upon on the flower field! I squealed with excitement when we saw this. We didn’t knew about this nor see this on the list but we were delighted to see it! Sunflower field was one of my bucket list, and I was happily to check that off my list! We saw the sunflower field during a beautiful moment. The sun’s ray shined through the eye of the light blue cotton candy.

DSC_0007 (3)

DSC_0005 (3)

DSC_0974 (2)

Although it was beautiful scenery, there were little creatures that also enjoy the scenery: bees & perhaps a wasp! OH MY GOD. They were everywhere. I’m really terrified of bees. Lilo kept on laughing, because I kept on flinching and running away. I couldn’t stand being next to it or even let it fly close by. I freak out, not to the point where I’d be crying, but to the point where I’d yelp or run away sometimes. If you didn’t see me running away or flinching, that’s because I’m quietly screaming inside. See that facial expression that Lilo took of me? Yes, that was it. I was signing to Lilo, “Lilooo!! hurry. aah! hurry, take pic, oh my god Li-lo,” while Lilo was laughing at me. Eventually, Lilo spotted something humongous black creature, a size of a iPhone 5, with a big fat butt. When I saw it, I yelped and ran away. “Did you see that, did you see that, Stacey?!?” “Yes! Aw hell no, I”m not going back there!”  Despite our encounter with the bees and unknown big-ass creature, we had fun!

Food

DSC_0014 (3)

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to blueberry ice cream. Let me tell you something: you must get this. I personally never like blueberries, but I fell completely in love with blueberry ice cream. Ever since, I couldn’t stop searching for blueberry ice cream. You can find this in this city, Seoul and perhaps Busan. You’ll find this ice cream truck nearby the Sunflower field!

DSC_0138 (2)

We spotted these on the street! We aren’t sure what’s on the left, but the right one is called, Beondegi. Beondegi is silkworm larvae that may be steamed or boiled. It’s also a popular snack, especially for elders. It looked completely gross, but I heard it was actually good….yeah, no buddy, not todayWe didn’t tried it out, but I don’t mind trying it out next time, although I just shivered at that thought…

Lotus Pond

DSC_0898 (2)

DSC_0896 (2)

This is located near the famous Anapji pond. Lilo and I luckily saw few lotus blooming since it was perhaps too early for its season. You can take a stroll around there and enjoy nature.

Gyeongju National Mususem

Gyeongju Natioanl Musuem is rated #2 on TripAdvisor. You’ll learn Korean history, the kingdom of Silla. Allow yourself for about an hour and half or so, and it’s also completely free! You still need an advance ticket (free, of course) prior the admission. I kept that ticket as an souvenir for my ticket collection. There are many English translation of many sacred cultural pieces, so worry not!  (:

DSC_0928 (2)
Divine Bell of King Seongdeok

According this this website, the bell was first conducted by King Kyongkok to honor the spirit of his deceased father, King Songdok. However, it was not complete during King Kyongdok’s reign; it was soon accomplished by the following son, King Hyegong.  Additionally, it is also commonly known as the Emile Bell (Emile means”mommy”). According to its legend, the bell was not capable to ring when it was first cast, therefore, it was melted down to fix and reshape it. The legend said that the temple’s head priest forced a young child into the molten metal. When the bell was recast and struck, a baby’s cries, “Emile” when the child was sacrificed.

DSC_0918 (2)

I’m not sure what’s the story behind this; nonetheless, this photography is impressive.

DSC_0922 (2)

Behold, the gold crown. It is one of the most precious items in the museum. With its elaborate and stunning design, its beauty was proven enough to be captivating.

Cheomseongdae

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

Cheomseongdae is an observatory, long known as the oldest astronomical observatory in the Far East. It is comprised of stones, and its legend said that it consisted 365 stones which symbolize a whole year; it also consisted 27 tiers which was assumed that it was probably reflect the fact that the Queen Seondeok was the 27th monarch of the Silla Kingdom at the time.

 Anapji pond

You have to go to see the Anapji pond! It’s best to explore at sunset or at night (recommend: at night)! It costs about $2-3 USD and it was really crowded at night. At night, Anapji will illuminate.  With its radiant beauty, a lot of people were surrounding around the Anapji pond to take photos. I personally recommend to bring a tripod to take photos to avoid blurs, or you could try put your camera somewhere to take a still photo.

DSC_0052 (3)

DSC_0042 (3)

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to hike the namsan mountain. If you like hiking, I recommend to check it out. Overall, Lilo and I do not regret visiting Gyeongju. It’s a nice quiet place to be away from the huge city for once. The city is extremely peaceful, and it is recommended to bike around to get around faster and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

 

Would you visit Gyeongju, South Korea?

 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

20 thoughts on “Gyeongju, a Hidden Gem in South Korea”