Trip to Gyeongju 경주

March 1st is a national holiday in Korea – called ‘Sam-il’ (‘Sam’ means 3 and il means 1 – 삼일). It commemorates patriots who rose up against Japanese Colonization in 1919. Japan annexed Korea as part of its empire in 1905 until Japan was defeated in WWII in 1945. For the holiday weekend (March 1 fell on a Friday) we headed to the ancient capital of the Shilla (신라) dynasty, Gyeongju, about an hour bus ride away.

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The Shilla 신라 dynasty unified the Korean peninsula in the 600’s and ruled for 300 years. Their center of power was in Gyeongju and this city is called ‘the museum without walls’

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Bell of King Seongdeok – cast in 771 A.D. and weighs almost 19 tons

There is an excellent history museum to get acquainted with Shilla and Korean history – This bell is located on the grounds outside

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Inside the museum
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Shilla artifacts inside the museum

It was freezing here! Where we live, Busan, is right next to the ocean and about as far south as you can get on the Korean peninsula, so we were stunned that short 1 hour bus ride could mean such a difference in temperature

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Our ‘Love Motel’ room

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‘Love Motels’ are everywhere in Korea. They have seedier purposes (the can be rented by the hour and some, including this one, provide you with condoms upon check in) but they are also pleasant places to stay for a couple nights. For $50/night they are clean and include everything you need.

Bulguksa (불국사) – Temple

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Despite freezing weather, the crowds were out due to it being a holiday weekend
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Anapji pond – not as pretty in the dead of winter
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Shannon bundling up while she waits for her hot tea

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There was a massive line to view the Buddha statue at Seokguram

Buddhism flourished during the Shilla period

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These are called Tumuli – they are burial mounds for the kings of the Shilla dynasty
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One of the tumuli or burial mounds has been turned into a small museum inside

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