On a very early Thursday morning, we hopped on a bus and headed for Gyeongju city. We left shortly after 6am, but because of our weird hours, we were not tired.
Got ma ticket!
This city was the capital of Korea during the Silla dynasty. It is also one of the only cities that did not have all of its monuments destroyed by either the Japanese occupation, nor the Korean war. So, we are going to check out some rad UNESCO monument sites.
Along the way, we got to see some farm land. Sort of reminds me of back home, except there are mountains, and the farms here are a lot smaller. It's mostly all rice, but the levels they need the land to be at for proper irrigation is pretty cool.
After arriving, we rented the crappiest car possible and got a move on. This car had this annoying GPS that had this whole start up music sequence that lasted 30 seconds. It would also complain whenever you would go over the speed limit, like your mother was sitting there shotgun. It also only took LPG gas. It had its own gas tank for that which took up most of the trunk and we were worried the whole time it was going to explode on us.
Then we stopped for a bite to eat. Gyeongju is famous for tofu soup so we had the most amazing meal here. That fish on the table was amazing too. You literally had to try it to believe. Seafood is amazing when it comes straight out of the ocean. Saskatchewan needs an ocean.
3 days later, and I'm still thinking about this meal
Next, we went to Gyeongju Bulguksa. This is a Buddhist temple constructed in 774. It was burned down several times and rebuilt every time to its exact original architecture.
Walking up to the entrance gate with a baby, who doesn't look at the camera.
We are not allowed to take pictures of any of the Buddha statues inside (well, we have one but promptly got a scolding from a monk... I won't post it out of respect). So most of these pictures are just of the monuments and buildings in the courtyard. Inside each of these buildings is a gold statue of Buddha and beautiful artwork. It is also filled with candles. Non-scented ones I presume.
Here's a different part of the courtyard:
Tripod + Timer = Family shot!
Entering and exiting the temple, there is a beautiful huge pond garden.
I saw fish jumping out of the water, but of course I can't take a picture of it you silly sally.
Next we went to Seokguram Grotto. It's an amazing monument of Buddha and is considered to be an amazing piece of art. It is completely carved out of Granite. So we drive for 30 minutes up a mountain in our piece of crap car. The road is long and winding. We have to dodge buses, and it's starting to get foggy, cause well... it's clouds. We are driving up a mountain. We finally make it there and see the gate entrance.
Temple in the sky.
But we can't see the grotto just yet. We find out we have to hike uphill for another 20 minutes. At this point, the air is thin, it's freezing cold, and we are in shorts and flip flops because we plan very poorly. Everyone else is bundled up and we are the only crazy people underdressed (baby is very warm in blankets. DO NOT CALL SOCIAL SERVICES!). Non-the-less, the walk heats us up. We are Canadian. Cold doesn't stop us.
Before my mom says anything, I was a gentleman and pushed the stroller. This was just for the photo.
So we get up to the main area and there are a ton of crazy kids there because there is a middle school tour going on. It is extremely loud here. I'm sure Buddha is rolling in his tomb.
ARE WE LOUD ENOUGH?!?!?
All the lanterns are out because it's Buddha's birthday coming up soon. It's not like Christmas, but it's a national holiday and you can go to a temple and monks will give you free tea.
So, we have another short climb 5 minutes (this time without a stroller, carrying the baby by hand because it's rocky steps the whole way). OMG let's recap! Driving a long winding death wish road, hiking, crazy kids, more hiking... The suspense must be killing you. It was for us. We travelled far and long and endured pain to see it... so here it is. Here is the picture we got of Buddha carved out in the granite which resides in the Grotto:
What?!?!? That's it?
Yup, that's it. The Buddha is inside that building and it was pretty amazing. This is all we can show you because... you guessed it. Can't take pictures of Buddha. I know this is a lie because we took 9000 shots of him in Thailand years before, but there must be different rules here in Korea.
For those who can't use google, here is a photo. Professional photographers get a pass for some reason:
Anyways... That's enough blogging for today. I'll post part 2 in a few days. Are any of you even reading this? Leave a comment if you are.