Yet another weekend has and come and gone, and I am once again reminiscing on the exciting foods, sights, and history that I was able to consume. On a whim (and I mean this in the truest sense as we booked tickets the day before departure) my friends and I trained our way down to Gyeongju for the weekend, unsure of what to expect or even what to do. Not only is Gyeongju a super fun place to visit, but it also turned out to be packed full of unexpected history and culture (at least unexpected to us as we later learned that the city used to be Korea's capital during the unified Silla period).
During our time in Gyeongju, we stayed at two separate hostels and both were affordable (costing about 15$ per night), conveniently located, and clean. If you are planning to visit Gyeongju and are interesting in staying at a hostel, I recommend staying are either 'Doobaki Hostel' or 'Friend Guest House'. Both have very kind hosts, an included breakfast, and plenty of space to hang out and socialize.
Because we arrived in Gyeongju in the late afternoon, we didn't begin exploring the city until the evening time, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After checking into our hostel, we went on a long walking tour through the lit-up city and were amazed at all the glowing historical monuments we found just existing on the side of the road. It felt like walking through a mystical interactive museum!
Less than a ten-minute stroll from our beds we happened upon both a delicious pizza restaurant and the Sacred Bell of King Seongdeok the Great. More commonly known as the Emile Bell, named after the ancient Silla word for 'mommy', the bell was completed in the year 771 during the Unified Silla Era and is known around the world for its beautiful and resounding sound. The bell's ring was believed to carry with it Buddha's voice of enlightenment, known as ilseungwoneum (perfect sound). There is even an inscription on the surface of the bell that reads “Hang this bell as a reminder for the people to understand ilseungwoneum".
As we continued on our journey we passed through tombs, the Cheomsongdae Observatory, various fun street food carts, and ended at the Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond. The place was crazy busy and beautiful. While there I was mesmerized by one of the most surreal views of my life—the image of the full moon, restless birds flapping through the sky, and the glowing structure of the palace all reflected in the pond water so clearly that it felt like I was looking into a mirror.
The next day we all took a winding bus ride up to Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Temple and enjoyed the fresh mountain air. The temples were awesome and definitely worth the commute to get there. We ended up hiking from Bulguksa Temple to Seokguram Temple which took about an hour. It was a very nice and approachable hike (although there was a bit of an incline) that made the sight of the giant stone Buddha statue of the Seokguram Temple all the more rewarding.
Finally, were ended the last day of our trip checking out the touristy and busy 황리단길 neighborhood. I enjoyed a tasty coffee at a cafe with a rooftop view called Cafe Ohi (I highly recommend it) and worked on some homework. If you are interested in buying souvenirs and getting some tasty dessert, this is a good street to explore. In all, Gyeongju is a great place to visit and I would highly recommend stopping by if you have the chance.
That is all for now! Thanks for tuning in:)