On our way to Gyeongju we stopped at a rest area to grab some coffee. I approached the counter where two middle-aged women were working. The two women were arguing over who was going to help take my order. I ordered our drinks in Korean and the woman who was helping me turns and tells her co-worker, “See, I told you she spoke Korean.” The other woman comes forward and says, “I can help you then.” The fear of a foreigner walking up to the counter is something that amuses me. How will this person react? We continued on to Gyeongju.
It was a dreary day driving and we thought it would be a great idea to explore the museum in Gyeongju. Well, we weren’t the only ones who had this idea either. We waited about an hour to even pull into the parking lot to find a parking space. Once I caught a glimpse of the line to get in I said, “Hell no!” We drove off to find food, but not knowing anything about the city we weren’t sure where to eat. We found this Vietnamese restaurant, however, it was my fault for choosing a bad one. Everyone in the restaurant was friends of the owners and they were drunk. So when I order or Pho and Vietnamese coffee, I was met with confusion. The waitress had no idea what I said so I pointed to both pictures as she laughed at my pronunciation. Well, I don’t know Vietnamese so my tones will be way off, but at least I tried. Our Cafe Su da came out and it tasted amazing! We waited about 20 minutes and Kristen said, ” Where is our food?” I looked around and realized she never placed our order. So we paid for our coffees and decided it was time to find our hostel.
We checked into our guesthouse and decided to explore the area. We decided to try out the restaurant Guro Ssambap (구쌈밥) since it was famous on a lot of blogs about Gyeongju. I wasn’t that much fun at the table as Kristen pointed out, because I had caught a cold by this point. It was a dreary day and I was sick. I felt sorry to Kristen, but hey at least I had great company! And the food was excellent! So many side dishes!! I forgot to take a good picture of our food. We then walked around and found a really cute coffee shop on the side of the road. My vanilla latte was so cute!
When we returned to the guesthouse everyone was in the living room sitting and chatting to each other. We decided to join the conversation. Most of the guests were Korean families traveling with their children. The two young boys chatted with us in English until 10:30 at night. Even the owner and his wife joined the conversation, before everyone headed off to sleep.
We woke up bright and early to explore Seokguram(설굴암) and Bulguk Temple (불국사). The weather had cleared and it was a beautiful hike up the mountain in the morning with very few people. It was nice to be in the shade hiking and enjoying the cool breeze at 7 in the morning.
After we looked around Seokareum we went to Bulguk temple which was a zoo. There were so many people visiting the temple. As we were exploring the temple we both decided that bumping into people and being surrounded by too many people is more aggravating than it is worth. So we left without seeing all of the temple.
We headed back to the guesthouse to get some rest and then we headed out to a jjimjilbang with an oven that you can sit in at a 90 degrees celsius.We were both sun burnt so we couldn’t try out the oven so instead we ate delicious cold noodles (냉면) and took a nap for a bit.
We went back to the guesthouse after buying some famous bread from the region. I forgot to take a picture too. Anyways, we were just resting when the boy and his father came in and asked how are day was. We said we were resting, but then they told us we must leave now to see Anapji lake (안압지호수), because we have not seen Gyeongju until we go there. You must see the night view!
As we made our way through the are to Anapji pond we saw hundreds of little lighted flyers being set off in the night sky. It looked very cool. We made it into Anapji pond in the nick of time. We had about 30 minutes to enjoy the scenery around us, with everyone else that decided to come see the pond. When we first walked in the crowds were everywhere. Luckily, as it dawned closer to closing time the crowds dwindle and we were able to enjoy the scenery a bit more.
After enjoying the pretty scenery we went back to our hostel and enjoyed some time chatting with the owner’s brother and his wife. While we were talking he asked us why we didn’t have Korean names? We didn’t have a good answer to give him, just that we hadn’t made one yet. Thankfully, no one was in our room this night. So we stayed up talking for a bit and we were able to relax in the morning. We enjoyed breakfast with the other families staying at the hostel and decided we need to pack up to leave. Before we headed out, the owner’s brother gave us our Korean names. My name was Kim SuJung (김수정) and Kristen’s was Kim SuJin (수진). My name means crystal in Korean. However, I’m not sure if it fits me, but it was nice that someone took the time into thinking of a name for us.
Now it was time to head out to Yangdong Village on the edge of Gyeongju. Yangdong village is a living traditional village that still preserves the houses of that era. The village was very cute and small, and even though it was hot we enjoyed walking around for about an hour. Well good things must come to an end, and I had to say goodbye to my travel buddy, Kristen. She didn’t have as many days off as I, so she needed to catch the bus back to Incheon. I’m really glad that she was able to travel with me for the five days, it was a blast!
Next stop: Andong.