I have been up only a little over 13 hrs and I have managed quite a bit of touristing.
Aghast that it was 8 am when I woke up, I rushed through my breakfast of leftovers and packed up, making a beeline for the tourist center to sign up for the city tour. I was too late - it was filled up, so the tourist office kindly marked the primary sites on my map with arrows and bus numbers. The young lady suggested I do the 2 sights farthest out first so I hopped on the #10 bus after letting the #11 pass while I dug out my map to check the numbers.
Most Koreans would not choose to sit with me on the bus but an elderly lady was willing. She spoke English and asked me a lot of questions - how old I was
. She said she was 80 but she looked as if she could be in her 50's. She gave me directions and suggested I come with her - she even checked to see if I needed to go to the toilet before we got the shuttle to the Seokguram Grotto. She was a Buddhist and had done work at this site so she got in free. She led me to wash my hands, get some drinking water and read the sign in English - that was when she disappeared. I had wanted to take her photo. My Korean fairy godmother. The granite Buddha was quite nice but what I liked best was the atmosphere. It was very foggy and the cicadas were making wild music while we walked up to the gate. As the bus came down the winding mountain road the fog began to lift. She also told me that when it was sunny, there was a great view and you could see the diamond of another Buddha sparkling.
From here, I went back to the Bulguksa Temple complex. It was very extensive and I walked from one temple pagoda to another with views of the tiles from the roofs. There was one pagoda where its grounds were covered with little stone cairns and some had coins on top that glimmered. It was quite an amazing sight. The temples had been started in the 8th Century A.D. They were mostly restored in the 1960's and 70's. I liked the colorful patterns painted in the eaves of the pagodas.
I got the #10 bus back to the Gyeongju National Museum which had a complex of several buildings and some stupas outside
. There were many pots, spear heads, jewelry and other artifacts to be seen. Korea is well known for its ceramics and there were several styles. I had an English audio tape but had a little difficulty following it and wasn't sure how to get it to do anything beyond the archeology building. It was around 5 and I was very hungry and hoping for sammbap - a specialty here. I asked directions and started out but got distracted by a huge field of white and pink lotus flowers. These were adjacent to the Anapji Pond so I decided I might as well go to see the pond. There had been several royal ponds and the setting was quite nice although there were some cans and stuff in the water. After leaving, I was following some English speaking girls ... one Japanese and the others from the US although one looked Korean. They gave me new directions for the ssambap restaurants but I got distracted by another field of lotus.
It was beginning to get dusky as I headed towards the Cheomseomgdae Observatory. I got distracted here by some of the tumuli - the royal grave mounds and tried to take a few photos in the good evening light. I got to an intersection and had to ask again...I wasn't so lucky this time but a young Korean woman on a bicycle did everything in her power to get me back on track. She called someone on her cell phone who spoke some English and I had some more directions. As I began to follow them - on a busy street with no side walk - a car pulled over and called to me
. I didn't rocognize these people at first but the young Korean woman had spoken to them so they knew where I was going and offered me a lift because they felt it was too far to walk. After a while - more cell phone calls to English speakers - I accepted and they dropped me off by the bus station. I had given up on the ssambap. I did still need food so I stopped at a bakery for breakfast stuff and then began to search for a restaurant. All of a sudden a woman ran up to me. She and her fellow had given me the ride and I guess they were still worried about me. They probably were wondering why I was walking away from where they dropped me and where I said my hotel was. I told them I was looking for food. So..more cell phone calls and then finally they led me to a Chinese restaurant where I had fried rice with fried egg, egg drop soup, and radish and raw onion on the side. I ate everything up except the raw onion. The waiter filled my empty water bottle for me after I paid. Very friendly and helpful place!
So I managed to get the western keyboard to work again and wrote up today's events. This keyboard requires heavy hitting so I skipped some embellishments - it is still pretty long.