Well week 2 started out successfully! On Sunday we left Seoul Women’s University after breakfast and traveled to a traditional Korean Folk village, I could have spent hours there. I saw a performance of traditional folk music. The homes and building were so beautiful. I can see why a lot of K-drama is filmed there. One Canadian student was very excited as she watches many of the shows! My favourite part were the bridges. I did make a wish at the wish rock. You write your wishes on paper and tie it on to the rock
After lunch we headed off to Gyeongju. We stopped at a traditional restaurant, called Choi Family’s Noble Dining for amazing food. We then went to the very fancy hotel (Hyundai Hotel) where we stayed for two night. This hotel had possibly the best buffet breakfast in the entire world. The view from the room is amazing.
Monday was a day of Korean Heritage sites. We visited so many UNESCO World Heritage locations! My favourite was, perhaps, the first one. We went to Seokguram Grotto in Gyeongju, a Buddhist temple. It felt very peaceful. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside the temple (this is a common theme for the day). Buddha faces Japan, to prevent an attack. As the temple is under renovation, you could purchase a tile and write on it – it will be used in the reconstruction. I bought one and some of the students wrote on it.
One exciting thing I got to do was ring the giant bell for a 1000 won donation to charity ($1). Well worth it
We then went down the mountain to the Bulguksa temple. This temple had many more people so it was less peaceful. Still it was very beautiful. The tour guide said “Chinese like big things, Japanese like small things, Koreans find natural beautiful.” We were very limited what we could take pictures of – nothing inside any building or of any Buddha. There were fierce warriors guarding the entrance. They stop any evil from entering. In 2007 a pig was found carved behind a sign. Now this pig represents “Big Money” for those who see it. If you dream of a pig, you are supposed to buy a lottery ticket the next day. There was a recently returned grave of a monk. It took 28 years for the Japanese government to return it. The remains were missing. I needed more time to wander at here – it was large site & beautiful
After a traditional, and Yummy, lunch we got to go to a beach near Gyeongju. I waded in deeper than my clothes allowed. Many students swam, but I didn’t want to change in the restroom. Next time I will wear my bathing suit under my clothes. It was very neat to be able to stick my toes into the other side of the Pacific Ocean. We then went back to the hotel for a change & shower before heading out to more heritage sites.
We then went to see Burial Mounds of the Silla dynasty inside of Gyeonju. The massive two humped Hwangnam Daechong is very impressive. One mound is for the Queen, the other for the King. We also saw the famous Cheonmachong (flying horse) burial mound which you can enter (and again not take pictures from the inside). It is named after an ancient painting on birch bark. Just a little further along was the Cheomseongdae observatory build of 362 rocks (one for each day of the lunar year). This observatory was built in the 600’s and faces south.
Also at this site are some beautiful gardens. Most flowers are over at this time of year, so it was lovely to see them.
Dinner was another traditional meal. We then headed back to the hotel. And then the students danced, to a lot of loud (mainly) K-Pop. I dance a bit. Everyone seemed to be having fun.
The next day, Tuesday, saw us heading back to Seoul. First we went south to Ulsan and visited Hyundai Heavy Industries and the largest shipyard in the world. We had a tour of their Memorial Hall and a bus tour of the shipyard. WOW was it neat. Again, no pictures allowed (for espionage reasons). Sigh. Still, really neat and the scale of everything was huge. After, we had a long bus ride back to Seoul’s Women’s University.
As an aside, I have two words I can say (hello & thank you) which are used all the time. I have one word I recognize (really? – the girls use it a lot) and one favourite food Bibimbap.