Gyeong Ju Adventure! The first step was not being lost, thank goodness for Corinne and Jessica. They were very prepared tourists. I brought a hangover and sunglasses, they brought maps, guidebooks, experience, and talent.
First we went to a Lotus Garden. Gyeong Ju is famous for being the ancient capital of the Silla Empire, and is known as the "museum without walls." The city's motto or slogan is "Beautiful Gyeong Ju (fun fact: I live in Colorful Daegu). From what I understand, the whole city is basically temples and beautiful gardens. I was more than impressed.
Lotus Flower Ponds
This may help give some perspective on just how big the area really is. There were tourists, but a lot of Korean couples posing for photo shoots - it is my understanding they often have engagement photos taken here.
Next we went to Anapji Pond, which was part of the Silla empire's palace. Of course, it has since been destroyed, but they have dug up archeological sites and found artifacts and remains from the buildings. They have restored some of the more simple buildings, and have models of the most complex ones. I've heard it is especially beautiful at night, and intend to come back at least once more before I leave Korea.
This is a restored building. The architecture is beautiful, the painting exquisite. I love it.
This pond is actually artificial, but beautiful and full of huge koi fish. I've heard rumors that the small island in the middle was used to display exotic animals during outdoor parties.
The Silla emperors are buried in these huge burial mounds. From a distance, like in this photo, they look rather small, but that is deceiving, I cannot remember the exact measurement, but heard that they are about half the height of great pyramids, and are multiple stories high.
This is the Cheomseongdae Astronomical Observatory, which seems ancient and simple.. but further research proves that wrong. According to their tourist guide, it is made up of 27 stories of stone pads that are 30 cm high, all carved to look like the same Chinese character, and totaling in 361 stones - for the number of days in a lunar year. It is an elegant structure with mathematical significance, which is highly impressive to me.
This is another garden, which had random characters designed to look like kings and queens in the Silla Empire, just dropped there for a photo opportunity.
Really, I can't say enough good things about Gyeong Ju. It is absolutely beautiful.
More gardens we walked through. We ended the evening with duck galbi, which is actually chicken and the first Korean food that I absolutely love. I think I am getting it again this week, it was that good!
I have barely even scratched the surface of all there is to do in Gyeong Ju. It has over a thousand years of history, and there are temples, gardens, parks, museums, and so much more I have not even seen. I need to go back, and soon. I heard it is beautiful in the fall with the leaves changing, so possibly returning in a month?