Sept 16, 2008 – An Dong to Gyeongju

Yet another travel day, we have moved south from An Dong to Gyeongju about 2 hours south east. When we arrived at that bus terminal it was crazy and the line up for tickets was huge. It has been a long weekend in Korea as it is their Thanksgiving – Chosek. Today’s bus ride was uneventful and the driver was probably the sanest we have had.

We have checked into a Korean Love Motel for our stay here. It is very nice and clean. Everything is designed for being discrete. This is how Koreans can have discrete encounters, it starts from the closed off parking lot that cannot be view from the street. The front of the hotel is very dark and you cannot see in. The staff at the front desk cannot see who is checking in. Love hotels are used by travellers because they are clean and safe and cheaper than other hotels.

After checking in we went for some lunch and then had to change money. It was a very strange experience. The clerk I was dealing with asked if it was my first time to Korea. I told him it was my second, that I liked it the first time, so I had to come back. When he quoted the rate for the exchange, he told me the posted exchange rate and then said he would give me a better rate!! Then he gave me a pen as a gift (it came in a small gift box).

Gyeongju is a considered an open area museum and was the capital of Korea during the Silla dynasty. As a result the burial tombs (Tumuli) of the Silla dot the area. The tombs are large mounds or hills. The largest is 22m high, and has a circumference at the base of 250m. We wander through a park with several Tumuli then to an observatory that was used between the 13th and 15th centuries. From there we found a lotus field but only a few lotus’ were blooming, most had already bloomed. It would be an impressive sight in the full bloom.