Gyeong Ju and more

Last weekend we were invited by the mother of one of my former students to go with her and her son to Gyeong Ju. Gyeong Ju is a historic town in eastern South Korea that is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO for its historical significance. Other than being very old, it is a beautiful town with blooming cherry trees lining many of the streets, temples dotting the mountain sides, and two-thousand year old stone carvings hidden within caves.

We started the 1 1/2 hour drive with a 3 hour trip in traffic…welcome to S. Korea. The entrance into Gyeong Ju off the expressway was a massive toll booth outfitted in traditional architecture with an arched, black slate roof and colorfully decorated sides. Upon arriving, we were all quite hungry so we stopped at a small, mom and pop bi bim bop restaurant. Bi bim bop is a bowl with rice and assorted vegetables with a dash of spicy sauce. It was delicious and came with tea and some other various Korean side dishes.

After lunch, we walked up the hill to a famous historic temple to see beautiful cherry blossoms and well-manicured grounds. We walked by the ancient statues and shiny, golden Buddha ornaments. Ashley was also able to get a painting of three horses painted by one of the monks at the temple.

We later made our way up another mountain, via car, to explore a temple that was situated on the mountainside and surrounded by colorful paper lanterns. After exploring for a while, we came upon an almost two-thousand year old carving of Buddha. It was awe inspiring to think that we were looking at something created that long ago. It was surrounded by other carvings that were done at the same time.

On our way home that evening, we stopped by the Korean equivalent of our interstate rest stops. Let me tell you that they are hoppin’. There are vendors spread everywhere and each stop was quite full of cars and people. Our host shared with us the Korean travel motto… “Eat first, travel after.”

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