Gyeongju Trip, Part 2

I was skimpy on details in Part 1, but I will write more this time, even at the risk of boring people. You can always skip to the photos if you’re not interested in the writing.

I didn’t get up until 10.00 in the morning, which was just as well because the weather was cloudy and the light was low. Not great for photography. My sad breakfast was leftover fried chicken from the night before. My first stop of the day was the Tourist Information kiosk in front of the train station. I told the young woman working there that I didn’t have a car and was interested in tourist areas within walking distance. She gave me a map of Gyeongju and circled a number of things I could get to easily.

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The hotel’s elevator. Notice that there is no fourth floor. The Sino-Korean word for ‘4’ has the same pronunciation as the word for ‘death’ and it’s considered bad luck. Much like some aeroplanes have no row 13. Sometimes the ‘4’ in an elevator is replaced with an ‘F’.
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Dull day in Gyeongju. Despite all the beautiful tourist areas, the city itself has lots of these ugly buildings and signs. Like most cities here, really.
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I don’t know if this scooter owner is buying lots of beer or delivering beer to a shop. I’d like to have a (lighter) cart like that for my bicycle.
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Gyeongju Train Station. I like the tiled roof and it’s a shame more buildings aren’t done in this style. There is a New Gangneung Station for the KTX bullet train that runs up and down the country but I didn’t get to see it.

I went to the wrong tourist site after leaving Tourist Information. The woman circled the back entrance of a tomb park and I headed for that. Unfortunately, there is another, smaller park of tombs before it and I went in there. I was a bit disappointed and it wasn’t until I had come out and looked at the map again that I realised I had stumbled into an unfinished park.

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This eyesore is next to the entrance of the Jjoksaem Tomb Park, the place I entered by accident. There is a tea room on the second floor and it’s hard to see what might be on the first floor. In front of the building is a coffee vending machine and a tin drink vending machine. The big yellow sign says that the street is for ‘hangover soup’ restaurants.
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The rear part of the tea room building is so badly run down that the city has covered it with wood so it doesn’t ruin views from inside the park. In the background, you can see some tombs.
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I did manage at least one ‘artsy’ photograph inside the park.
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This tomb-shaped building is an archaeological museum.
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The museum is basically just an enclosure for this tomb that is being excavated. There are some displays on the walkway that goes around on the second floor but there is very little information in any foreign languages. You can’t get down to the first floor. The museum seems like it’s not quite finished. Admission was free so I couldn’t complain.
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From a balcony outside the museum, I could see these old buildings just outside the park grounds. The store on the right sells Gyeongju Bread, a pastry filled with red bean paste first made in 1939. Shops selling this pastry are everywhere in the city, especially near tourist areas, the train station, and the bus stations.

I made another short tour around the park after I left the museum and took a path that maybe was off limits. There was a traffic cone standing in the way that lacked authority so I went past it. I guess it’s not an officially opened path because the area is not cleared up yet. I made a few photos.

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The back of a building. One of my favourite photos of the trip. It started to rain at this point, and you can see some raindrops on the blue metal.
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I never did get a satisfactory composition for this scene. I think some unsightly buildings were to the right and I didn’t want them in the photo.
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The detritus from some run down business to my left extended into the park grounds. No doubt this will be cleared away once the park is ready for full tourist activity. I can see why the path is not yet open to visitors, but I like this sort of photo.

It was getting close to midday by the time I left the park and I headed to a beef restaurant near the exit. The restaurant was in a traditional style building and quite large.

 

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This is less than one half of the restaurant. A beautiful building.

 

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One page of the menu. I had the Ugeoji Short Rib Soup. ‘Udeoji’ means the outer leaves of a Chinese cabbage, usually dried for making soup in the winter. 10,000 Won for a bowl of beef rib soup is a little expensive but this restaurant was very good.

 

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Although this was a high-quality restaurant, I didn’t like most of the side dishes. I ate the potato salad, some of the spicy fried squid, the pickled garlic, and the rice. The beef in the soup was very tender and was delicious dipped in the soy sauce.

The park and the restaurant are next to the neighbourhood of my hotel so I dropped by my room to rest for a little bit. Unfortunately, the (very friendly) cleaners were in the room so I didn’t stay for more than a minute. I got a disposable raincoat from the front desk to cover my camera with and then went for a short walk through the streets.

 

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Gyeongju has an abundance of smokers and cats. This guy must be a regular customer at this restaurant.

 

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There are also lots of southeast Asians in Gyeongju. I saw quite a few SE Asian shops, some restaurants, and places selling mobile phones to foreigners. Shops in Korea are garish in general but this one has taken it a step further.

There was nothing good to see in these streets (except the cat) so I started off for the Gyeongju National Museum. It was raining so I figured I may as well go to an inside cultural site. The museum is a few kilometres away from the hotel but a lovely walk with hills and trees. I made a few photos on the way there and on the way back.

 

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Okay, this isn’t that lovely, but it’s one of the few places in the country where you’re likely to see a service station with a traditional tile roof.

 

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A coffee truck. The sign on the door says that the owner sells and services coffee machines. Could one of these trucks be converted into a camper van, I wonder?

 

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A Gyeongju City bus. An anti-smoking poster is on the side. One hopes the campaign takes effect soon.

 

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A coffee shop with a traditional gate and tile roof. From what I could see, the inside of the coffee shop was modern.

I arrived at the museum and made a photo of the front gate with my iPhone. It wasn’t raining too heavily, so I made some photos of the grounds before entering any of the museum buildings.

 

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You get your free ticket at one of the windows on the left and then pass it in at the booth in the centre of the gate. I’m not sure why you need to get a ticket if the museum is free, but maybe it’s how they keep track of how many visitors they receive each day.

 

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I used the panorama feature of my iPhone to make this photo of the museum’s main building. On the right is a pavilion holding a large bell.

 

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Another panorama, which includes the main museum building and a traditional depiction of a cloud in brick. 

 

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This bell was completed in the year 771 and was commissioned by King Seongdeok for his deceased father. 

 

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I made quite a few photos of this pagoda from different angles but this one is probably the best.

 

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Traditional Korean vending machines. 🙂

 

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No trip is complete without a group photo. I was alone so I made a photo of someone else’s group.

 

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How many centuries has this fellow been standing in the rain?

 

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7-11 seems to be the most common convenience store in Gyeongju and the museum had one with a tile roof. I had finished looking through one building at this point (no photos) and decided to have a snack and write in my journal.

 

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Like so.

After taking a little rest I went into the main building to see the displays there. Photography is allowed if you don’t use flash or a tripod so I made some photos. I photographed many things but I’ll just share some of the better ones.

 

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Pre-historic pottery. Mobile phones are nice for selfies and daylight photos, but nothing compares to a proper camera with a large sensor when lighting conditions are not good like inside a dimly lit museum. 

 

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Golden crown with jade ornaments.

 

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I can’t remember what this is, but the green bits are from the shell of something called a jewel beetle. 

 

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When this martyr’s head was cut off, milk shot out of his neck. 

 

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Wolseong Palace and Gyeongju during the Shilla Kingdom. A sign says the city may not have actually looked like this. 

 

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Statues of rather fierce looking turtles. 

 

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The museum’s gift shop. There were some interesting things inside, but I wish that more of the things for sale were about Gyeongju, and not Korea in general.  

 

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Leaving the museum.

If you’re ever in Gyeongju, I highly recommend the National Museum. It would be worth living in Gyeongju just to spend days and days photographing the grounds and buildings.

I was satisfied with my first full day in Gyeongju, despite the rain. The only thing I didn’t like about the day was the choice of food for supper. Most restaurants are for couples and groups, and lone eaters are very rare. I feel uncomfortable sitting in a restaurant by myself here. Also, many of the good foods like grilled ribs can only be ordered in servings of two or more. And many restaurants in the evening are filled with noisy drinkers and can be unpleasant. So, sadly, I went to another chicken place and brought back another meal of fried chicken to my hotel room. (I never thought I would ever use the words ‘sadly’ and ‘fried chicken’ in the same sentence. 🙂 )

One more part to come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Gyeongju Trip, Part 2

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