Trip Start Oct 20, 2008
93Trip End Jan 31, 2009
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Where I stayed
Checked into a hostel called Hanjin. 10,000 wons a night.
Central Gyeongju consists of tumuli parks and residential areas. Since Gyeongju was the capital of the Shilla Kingdom, the tumuli contained Shilla royalty from around 5th Century AD. Visited the Tumuli Park, the Noseo-Dong Tombs and the Cheomseongdae Astrological Tower. The tumuli were just small hills covered with yellow grass. The only one that was open to public contained replicas, rather than the actual thing. The astrological tower, which supposedly is the oldest of its kind in East Asia, wasn't impressive either.
On the other hand, I enjoyed the Gyeongju National Museum. The displays were slick and the exhibition was easy to tour. Even though the collection was not extensive, there were some interesting pieces, such as Shilla monarchs' crowns. The main building housed the permanent exhibition. There were 2 other buildings that were home to the archeology and to the Buddhist art exhibitions.
Around Korea, the Iron Age was lived with a lag of a few centuries, compared to the Middle East.
Around the 7th Century, Shilla sword-making was influenced by Indian swords. It is interesting that such a remote kingdom would be influenced by an empire so far away.
People no longer constantly bow and thank, as I had gotten used to in Japan.
Having gotten tired of East Asian food, I defaulted to McDonald's. 7,200 wons for a meal and a sandwich. Cheaper than Japan.
Gyeongju is a small town of 300,000 people. The major industry is tourism. Buildings are short. Despite its small size, it has as many shops and restaurants as Gaziantep, Turkey.
It is a pleasant change to be traveling with newly-made friends, after traveling solo for 2 months. Yes, today it has been 2 months, since I took the train from Istanbul to Konya. However, I must add that company makes you lose time and concentration. You have to wait for each other. In addition, when you are chatting you lose the concentration that should be placed on the city.