After a short bus ride through picturesque fields and hills I reached my second stop in South Korea, a small town called Gyeongju, in the past the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla, which ruled a vast majority of the Korean Peninsula between 7th and 9th century. Except visiting archaeological sites and admiring cultural properties from this period I wanted to have a break from the city buzz and Korean countryside was perfect for that! Drinking more soju shots was not an option. Just a thought of it still gives me shivers.
There were few interesting places to see downtown including Anapji Pond with a beautiful palace, ancient observatory and the Royal Tombs spread out around a pleasant park, representing architectural style of the Silla era.
Two places that I wanted to visit the most, Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple, were situated outside of Gyeongju but it was very easy to get to them using public buses. The grotto temple with an impressive statue of Buddha made from harsh granite is a true gem hidden in the mountains. By going there early in the morning I escaped the crowds and witnessed monks praying as a part of their daily routine.
Bulguksa Temple, built in 751, is sadly a replica of the original site. It was destroyed during Japanese invasions and wars and resorted back to its former splendour in 1973. It is still worth exploring huge temple grounds though.
I am not a huge fan of folk museums but in case of Yangdong Village it was very enjoyable to walk around traditional thatched houses, Confucian shrines and pavilion type buildings in the autumnal sun.
For a first time in ages I stayed at a guesthouse and it was nice to throw this experience into the mix. Being back at the place, which was clean and comfortable was exactly what I needed. A lady owning Coolzaam Guest House was friendly, helpful and she made some fantastic pancakes for breakfast. What a bliss!