South-Korea - Gyeongju: the last days to seoul and Back Home
This last day in Gyeongju was a bright sunshiny day! Hell Yeah!! We ate breakfast. I went for a coffee (again) and then we went renting a bike.
There a lot of rentals in Gyeongju. Just walk Westwards. According to the guide we took one shop that had good quality bikes, but my tires were not that good pumped haha!.
It took just a few minutes to reach the fields full of little roads used by the farmers to cross their fields. The scenery is amazing. But our guide didn't know the road hahah so endless stops and it looked that we didn't move at all. Suddenly she recognized the road. We followed it. We neglected touristy sight-signs and I decided to follow them to have at least something to see. The group followed me. And they were happy they did: we saw rock-carved buddha and a hidden tumulus of Queen Seondeok dated 647!!!! Lying in a beautiful forest.
I don't know why we didn't know where to go: the one and only roadsign we could read said "café" :-)
Most returend the bikes. As well did we and we went again exploring the city. The neighbourhood in the west is full of strange theme-motels. The pictures outside of the flashy arty-farty-rooms seemed very attractive, kitch to us as well as a bit douchy hahah!
We found again a nice traditional restaurant to lunch and visited the tumuli in the sun this time. Of course our stop at Café Tiamo's for a coffee and an icecream was obligatory :-)
In the late afternoon we walked East fo the city to explore the flowerpark, the forest behind it, the very touristy folkvillage and we discovered the oldest ancient bridge ever: the wol-jeong bridge.
In the night we had a king's meal, which was not really a kingsmeal but the most rich table ever. Though to be honest the food wasn't that great as always.... but it was fun as we thanked our guides and gave them a funny present!
In the night we went walking the same things by night again, but any of my night pictures show something: if you photograph the dark, you get the dark haha! What a nice ending of a very interesting beautiful trip!
panorama with cellphone
The rock-carved Buddha!
The faced and the faceless
traditional lunch!! can you believe it???!!!
we can't get enough of the tumuli
the Woljunggyo birdge: we can't go up there because it's a historic monument!
King's meal - the last supper with DJ
the next morning we drove back by taxi to the trainstation, arrived in Seoul, took a taxi to our Baiton Hotel again. Had just a few hours to explore the city. Me and my mate split up after we found again a traditional restaurant to eat. I went to the war memorial Museum. I wandered there for a few hours! Didn't visit the outside collection of old weapons as tanks and planes... went walking a lot , went visiting the mall next to Yongsu station: full of second hands technology, got offered a lensexchange for my camera, took the metro back, freshed up in the hotel.
We ate barbecue to end the evening, packed up went wiht taxi's to the airport as the shuttle was already closed down. And despite the MERS-epidemic growing we went unchecked to Dubai and unchecked to EU. We're in Amsterdam we could buy some tickets for the Thalys to get home. Which saved us moer than an hour than by regular train :-)
Home sweet Home!!!
South-Korea - Gyeongju day 2
We planned a bikeride, but when we woke up. It was all grey and chilly and slightly raining. So we decided to go to the Bulguksa temple by bus.
It's a very nice and big temple that we explored in the rain. It was also fun watching all the schoolkids in their colourful rainpojo's.
After that we went back home and with a couple of people that haven't been yet to the National Museum we went to spend some hours there.
It's free!! and it's more than worth visiting it! I like ancient arts & crafts and statues.
Me and my mate explored the city and found some good lunch. A kinda soup. Hot soup. In the rain for hours hahaha! Of course we had some nice coffee and icecream again at Café Tiamo.
And we were happy we did our hike and other explorations of the markets yesterday.
We relaxed a bit in the guesthouse and in the evening we went for in a traditional restaurant with some people that didn't wnat to join the rest that wanted 'western food'. We joiend the group afterwards , bought some drinks an had some fun in the kithen till sleeping time :-)
South-Korea - Gyeongju
Thursday 5 june 2015.
We arrived somewhere at noon in Gyeongju with our bus. Our guesthouse was just at the tumulus park. The sun was shining. Beautiful wheather. The guesthouse was built as a traditioonal low Korean house around some garden. Rustic. Quite. Relaxing. We felt good there. We all had nice rooms and had to sleep on the ground again. There was a kitchen where our guide provided us with stuff to make our own breakfast.
We went discovering the city immediately. And found some really nice cheap lunch baked rice with seafood for 5000 won. The lady prepared the meal at our table.
After dinner we had seen enough of the city and decided to go up north. We crossed the river and finally found the park where we saw the stone buddha that I wanted to see (as marked on the map). The park was again just mountains and the stone buddha was disappointing, apart from the fact is was very ancient. We went hiking. Again...
Yes call us fools... in the heat. Again. We came across a temple and followed signs that we didn't understand. We finally reached the top only to see there was another top to be climbed. After the third top we decided to go down very steep along a sandy hill... which was veryslippery as my sandals didn't have any grip. So finally we were down and walked a hundred miles (sing it!). And then took a cab back to the guesthouse for only 3000 won. God This was again a long hiking day hahahaha!
In the evening we went eating with the group but it wasn't that good. Places full of youth serve meals without taste and just plain cooking without soul.
After dinner we walked to the Anapji Pond and the palace. Crowed as hell but worth visiting in the dark!!
Cheomseongdae is an astronomical observatory in Gyeongju, South Korea. Cheomseongdae means star-gazing tower in Korean. Cheomseongdae is the oldest surviving observatory in East Asia. It dates to the 7th century to the time of kingdom of Silla, which had its capital in Gyeongju (wikipedia)
South-Korea - Busan - Templestay Beomeosa temple
Wednesday 3 june 2015.
This morning we were all pack and set to go. Yesterdaynight we wrote our postcards that we finally found and I went bying stampes and sending in the postoffice across the hotel. We had a private bus to take us outside the city where we would start a hike in the mountains to the Beomeosa temple where we would join the monks in a templestay.
DJ acting funny
at the temple the guardians crush the demons and evil spirits. I thought demons and evil spirits looked a bit different :-)
cellphone panarama and someone walking in my view!
DJ making a face to me
I was not really in shape this day so hiking didn't went that well like in the last days. Anyway the hike really worth it.
First you need to surive a busride. More than an hour and you're still in the city!!! Busan is like Seoul: infinite!
The hike in the forests and mountains has some great viewpoints. The only thing you see is the city, the city and nothing but the city and it's skyscrapers. Impressive.
So after a very slow hike we arrived at the temple. We were nicely welcomed by a lady and show to our quarters. we would sleep in a room on the ground, all men together and the girls apart.
We wore our special very comfortable pijama's that we got from the temple.
Then we attended our first session. The Monk, director of PR explained the rules and the do's and don'ts, we went attending a prayer.
gathering with the mnk - noone of the groud could sit still in that position for that long haha!
Idid the 108 bows, I survived and thank god I'm quite in shape :-) I wearing my beads-necklace with pride
We went to dinner. Which is a complete ritual. you need to do some handlings in a certain defined way and use yuor bowl in a defined way. Anyway the veagn food I loved.
We got to rest a bit and we then summoned to do the 108 bows while making a bead mandala necklace. 108 bows! Thank god I do some sports!!! getting up and down wiht your forehead to the ground 108 times non-stop: some really had it in their pants hahaha!
anyway i succedded without being quite exhausted.
We had to go sleep very early as we had to wake up at 5u30.
most beautiful groupshot ever I think
Very early morning walk to the meditation hermitage...the walking purple dead
We slept kinda well.
So we were there for mediation and afterwards we could have breakfast.
We also made a short hike to some viewpoint hermitage in the forest behind the Beomeosa temple and meditated for half an hour.
Then we had some free time and again we were summoned to have a chat with tea with the monk.
And then it was done and we left with the bus to our last stop: the amazing cultural historic city of Gyeongju!
Morning tea with the monk and having a chat - again sitting too long in the same position hahaha, but we had serious talks.
South-Korea - Busan - last day
Tuesday 2 june 2015
This last day in Busan we really took it slow. Haha. I needed time to wake up like every morning and was a bit tired of speeding thorugh all the streets for more than a week now :-)
We took the bus to the Santorini of Busan. Gamchean Cultural Village.
The gamcheon village is a quiet town but open to visitors as Korea, Busan promotes this as the santorini of Korea. No need to explain why :-)
not every street/narrow alley between the houses, is accessible for tourists...this to not disturb the inhabitants
So we joined the group to the Taejong dae park where we could walk a 5 km coastal walk. And take some really funny pictures at a photobooth.
Jiwoo love story in Busan - photo exhibition
Afwards my mate wen ton his own to explore the city some more, I joine dsome others to visit the Busan Aquarium. A bit pricy: 25.000 won per person but I like fish. we were in tiem for the feeding time of the penguins: that didn't seem very handy in catching dead fish and the sharfeeding time: which was more a show for kids with divers among the big fish and feeding dead fish to the stingrays and one shark that didn't seem to be hungry at all.
anyway i love big fish haha
In the evening me and my mate foudn the best seafood dish ever: 35.000 won for 2 persons and more shells than we could count two big shells, one big crab, one big octtopussy that they came to cut with scissors at our table. We enjoyed it so much. All the previous fishdishes we had seemed to have been ripp off in coparison with this delicious food: adress: Big Seafood restaurant Busan.
In the night we went to Lotte Mall to see the fountain show
I found lots of Nemo!!!
full view of our delicious big seafood dish :-)
No idea what you get in there
The 13th floor of the skydeck of the Lotte Mall is just stunning!!!!
as is the view over the border :-)
South-Korea - Busan
Monday 1 june 2015
We enjoyed the hotel pretty much: the Aventree Hotel Busan. Nice breakfast clean, wifi, laundry possibility,...
So we took the bus the the UNECSO UN - war memorial and cemetery: UNMCK.
Impressive. You see all the nations that fought over there or gave logitisc and medical support. We saw the names of the Belgians that died there and watched a short documentary.
After that we went to Haeundae beach. We had free time all over. And there we went. Exploring the markets, the streets, the beach ;-) and searched some good lunch.
We met again with the group to make a stroll around the coastal line. Great view on the ocean.
Then in the afternoon we took the bus to the sea-temple: Haedong Yonggungsa temple. One of the most famous temples of Busan and a spot for masstourism. I was not quite impressed lol.
I did put my feet in the water, and thought is was pretty cold haha!
schoolkids having fun on the beach
In the evening me and my mate went eating but I forgot where and what.
We joined some others afterwards to get soe drinnk in a pub where we got served little snacks too :-)
South-Korea - Hadong - Busan - Jagalchi Fishmarket
Sunday 31 may 2015.
Today is the last day in Hadong. This morning we have free time till we leave with the noontrain to Busan, the second big city of South-Korea.
As we have nothing to do, we stroll the park behind our hotel. It's a sunny and hot day again, it fels nice but very warm after the days of cloudy and wet weather. Of course the park is a steep hill again... And again beuatifully decorated, clean, nicely gardened. We enjoyed the viewpoint.
At noon we took the train to Busan. Not teh KTX. So the train made a few stops. we could enjoy the scenery of the agriculture from the window. Around 16u30 we arrived at the Busan station. we took some cabs to drive us to our Hotel. The problem is the hotel seemed to be in a carfree pedestrin zone and the driver who didn't talk english seemd not to be albe to know where to put us off and wanted to call our guide. It took some phonecalls here and there to get DJ's number and then finally he knew where to deliver us. OK we checked in in this beautiful hotel in the hear tof the shopping streets of Busan. Busan seemed lots more busier then Seoul. Lot's more traffic, lot's more people, lot's more noise in the shopping streets where every shop had someone outside: shouting, calling publicity to attract customers, even fortified with microphones... imagine the noise.
But hey this city is vibrant and vivid and seemd even more endless then Seoul.
So we freshed up, and gathered to go for a walk to the most famous fishmarket: the Jagalchi fish market. Not only in the open air but also in two buildings were you can eat.
Alaways nice to stroll around see those kind of weird fish, see the local streetfood and smell it and taste it. We ended up in a tourist trap. hahaha.
When I asked what the difference was between all those restaurants our local guide said: "there's no difference, 'cos they are the same, all the fish comes from the same sea."
South-Korea - Hadong
Friday 29 may 2015.
Today we took the stoptrain to Hadong in the middle of the Mountains. The trip lasted 3 hours and from the station we went on foot with our luggage in the sun to our motel, only 15 minutes away. Hadong is a region, but the city itself is very sleepy. Though is seems to have a few 100.000 inhabitants. This would be one of the most slow paced moment of the trip. Time to relax.
After freshing up we took a bus to the plum factory. Actually this was more an afternoon walk as the Plum factory was open to visitors and you could stroll around the plumfields on your own. We just visited the visitorcenter where we could taste just a tiny sip of some plumjuice (and didn't buy any of the really expensive plum-products).
We walked a bit around and after a small hour we just relaxed at a viewpoint. There are lots of viewpoints in Korea woodenpagoda-like huts where you jsut can picknicnk or relax. We came a across a group of Korean tourists, businessman on a daytrip. The boss was the loudest but he shared the food with us ;-) A nice custom in Korea: sharing your food.
When we returned, me and my mate again strolled a bit through the city but so far nothing much to see. As we had to buy lunch for the next day we really looked in the supermarket for Kim bab. One of the workers pointed out the kim and then pointed at the regoin with al kinds of food and made clear we could buy this and make it ourselves....
not our aim. In a local small shop I asked Kim Bab and then the women took a paper the tried to explain. Together with a man that was in the shop. It took them 10 minute sto explain something really simple and the only words I could understand was policestation and bank and that it was not far from there.
My mate said He had seen the policestation already. It was just a few meters away lol.
Then there was the bank and then there was a small restaurant even called Kim Bab.
We entered and asked kim bab to take away. We had freshly made kim bab two big rolls each for 3000 won each.
That is like for free!!!
We were so happy and kept the food in our fridge in our room.
In the evening we went eating chinse :-)
The next morning we took the bus to the teaplantage. Plans had changed as to the rainy weather and actually we could do more this day, like all activities for which we normally would have split up.
And we enjoyed a really traditional tea ceremony.
After that we took the bus to one of the nicest temples in the Jrisan Mountain region: the Ssyangyesa Temple. There were luckily not that many people and the rain really was just a continous curtain of very small drops...not even to worry about.
We strolled the temple for an hour before we met at the pathway to make a hike to the Burill falls in the forest.
The climb was not that heavy and the temperature was really gone down so it was quite easy. Which did not mean we were not sweating. After a short time we were ahead of the rest again and yeah walking in the dense green wet forest with no sounds but our steps and sometimes a bird and woodpeckers I really become zen haha!
We saw those small Korean Squirells enjoying eating nuts! So funny! And at a resting point again some totems. The we had to climb more as the rain began to become a bit harder. We came across a temple and sheltered there. Everything was closed but there were clearly people lving here high up in the mountains. Suddenly a monk came out and invited us in to shelter. I kindly kinda refused but he opened a door and invted us in and disappeared. Then I realized and my companions also that we couldn't resist this invitation so we took of our shoes and got inside. Shortly after the monk returned with a watercooker and made us some excellent tea.... he hardly spoke English but seemd to understand it better and really did made an effort to listen and be interested in us. Actually this moment: having tea while sheltering in the Monk's premisses with the Monk was magic and a once in a lifetime experience.
Shortly after our other companions crossed the temple and were invited too. They had already been to the falls so while they were having tea, we wnet to the falls. I've seen bigger falls, but the Burill falls well the whole context and moment and place made it just perfect.
The way down went a lot faster still in the rain. and the forest was smoking clouds of the heat and the rain. So beautifull.
We joined after taking a bus the others who didn't do the hike at the folk village. Not so interesting actually but guess you needed to have seen it. I enjoyed the natural surrounding and agricultural scens and ricefiedls more.
In the evening with a few people that didn't want to barbecue we went looking for a local restaurant. The waiter didn't quite understand what we wanted. We pointed as always to the dish of our neighbours and made a sign of 7 persons.
Maybe they took that as 7 bowls... as they don't want mistakes he called his mother i guess.
Bulgogi it was, as the women said that one word I could understand. Then she came with a ordermenu in Korean... and made clear we had to fill it in... we hadn't got a clue.
We sat down figuring out how we could make the understand. As I was always doing the job I waited a bit, but then one of us stood up with the order, went to the neighbours explained in gesutres what they ate and made them point it in our order and we just ordered 2 bowl of that dish which would be sufficient for 7 people.
Then the boy was that and looked happy: this was something clearly reasonable :--) As always the food was excellent!
We found our mates sitting in a bar with overpriced smoothies (8000 won!! was by far the most expensive smoothie ever!!) So we closed the night and had a really pleasant relaxed day.