Bulguksa Temple...

Trip Start Dec 11, 2008
Trip End Dec 13, 2009

Loading Map
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Monday, March 16, 2009

The Monday after my birthday weekend must rank as the lowest point of my time in Korea so far. Nothing in particular happened, but suddenly I just felt bored of being in a routine. I'd been in Korea exactly three months, and research suggested that this is prime culture shock territory. The newness and excitement has worn off, and you are now in a routine just like anywhere else. I gave it plenty of thought as usual, and concluded that I needed to start travelling further afield on weekends, especially as spring is just around the corner. Over the last couple of years, I have usually quit jobs to go travelling at about this stage, so it was clear what was wrong - I had the traveller's itch!

I was also losing my enthusiasm for the TOEFL test that we are constantly teaching, and Monday's lessons were dull, dull, dull! So I made the concious decision to try and liven up proceedings by spending more time on warm-up activities and discussion, rather than test drills. The Thursday intensive class was especially fun, as I took some chocolate in as they are always hungry, due to studying almost continuously for about twelve hours! I made each student speak continuously for 90 seconds about a subject of my choosing, and if successful, they would get the chocolate. One amusing student, Park Yoon, had requested lobster earlier in the week, so I had attached a picture of one onto his chocolate! It was a much more enjoyable lesson...

In terms of travelling, I had decided to visit the much-hyped Gyeongju at the weekend to hopefully recharge my batteries. I was surprised at just how easy it was to reserve train tickets online, and I'd booked myself into a nice hotel for the Saturday night. These plans make the week go much more smoothly, as you have something exciting to look forward to, and I envisage going away most weekends from now on, especially during spring which is a perfect time to travel...

I set my alarm clock for 5.15am on Saturday morning, unearthly by anybody's standards, but I don't mind getting up early for leisure purposes. Gyeongju is about four hours away so I wanted an early start, plus I had to take the subway to Seoul Station beforehand. So after grabbing a coffee, I boarded the train for my first big venture in Korea...

I love travelling on trains as I can just listen to my music, look out of the window, and generally gather my thoughts. It was even nice when a friendly ajumma came and sat next to me as she kept on feeding me cherry tomatoes and oranges, not to mention a cup of coffee from the flask she had brought with her friends! When things like this happen before 9am in the morning, and the sun is shining brightly outside, you know it is going to be a great day...

After checking in at my hotel, I took a bus out to Bulguksa Temple, one of the most famous in Korea. Now I've seen plenty of temples in my time, but this was up there with the best, no doubt helped by the surrounding blue sky. I'm not sure why exactly, but wandering around temples like this one help me to relax, and I come away feeling rejuvenated. I even saw some pretty flowers on the trees, the first real indication of spring's arrival, and it definitely whetted the appetite for cherry blosom season...

I caught another bus up to Seokguram Grotto afterwards which was less impressive, although it afforded fantastic views out to the East Sea. It was very cold and windy at the top due to the sea breeze, and I was thankful to eventually return to downtown Gyeongju just before sunset. It was much warmer there, and I enjoyed a peaceful stroll around Anapji Pond after dark and got some good photos of the traditional architecture, all lit up...

I spent a relaxing evening in my hotel room sprawled out on the double bed, eating junk food and watching Liverpool thrash Man United on the large screen TV - yes I could definitely get used to these weekends away!

Scattered around Gyeongju are bizarre mounds of grass that are the tombs of former Kings and Queens, so I spent Sunday mooching around the various parks and having a closer look. It really was quite warm at this point, so I was quite content to take it easy and try to get some colour into my ghostly complexion. I'm not sure whether it worked or not...

As always, the weekend soon raced towards its conclusion, but getting out of Nowon for a couple of days had been a real tonic. Now I know what makes me happy, I will be off on my travels a lot more frequently in the coming weeks and months...
Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • You must enter a comment
  • You must enter your name
  • You must enter a valid name (" & < > \ / are not accepted).
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: