Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chuseok: Trip to Gyeongju and Busan #2

At night we went to the Tumuli Park Belt. There we could see the well preserved royal graves from the Silla Kingdom, and a range of excavated historical relics, including gold crowns and paintings, all display the essence of Silla culture. The belt consists of three groups of Royal tombs. Most of the mounds are domed, but some take the form of a half-moon. They contain double wooden coffins covered with gravel. Excavations around the area have produced rich grave-goods of gold, glass, and fine ceramics. We walked around at night time so we could only see the outside of the graves. They were in the forms of hills. It was the first time I saw people buried in that way. I added a picture for you to see the hills in daytime.

Next we went to the Anapji pond. The Anapji pond is an artificial pond in Gyeongju National Park It was part of the palace complex of ancient Silla (57 BCE - 935 CE). It was constructed by order of King Munmu in 674 CE. The pond is situated at the northeast edge of the Banwolseong palace site, in central Gyeongju. It is an oval shape; 200m from east to west and 180m from north to south. It contains three small islands. The area looked quite romantic and beautiful at night time. Because of the Chuseok holiday there were quite some people walking around.

The next day we (the Yonsei students) desperately looked for something else than Koreans styled breakfast. We went to a Chinese restaurant. I ordered fried rice with shrimp. It was very tasty! But we didn't get shrimp with it. I tried to explain it for about 5 minutes which became very awkward after talking in English and my limited knowledge of the Korean language. It was good nonetheless. The tourguides gave us the choice to go either to another area to see flowerbeds or to discover Gyeongju by ourselves. We wanted to discover the city by ourselves and went into the city. Jouni from Finland of Sungkyunkwan university came along. We saw ATV's, scooters and bikes to use and it looked a fun thing to do. Eventually Tyren, Annette and Jouni went on ATV's and I went on a twinbike with Greta. This because Greta didn't want to ride the ATV. It looked silly but we it was a nice and quiet way to see the city. But I'm DEFINITELY taking the ATV next time =D.

The others went to Cheomsongdae. An ancient astronomical observatory. It is probably the most well known of Korea's historic remains. The stone astronomical observatory was built during the reign of Queen Ssondeok in 634. The bottle-shaped tower was constructed on a square base. It is considered the oldest observatory in the world and one of the oldest man-made structures left in Korea. How it was operated is not known.

On the way to Busan we stopped at the beach in Gyeongju. Where the underwater tomb of King Munmu is located. The sight of the vast blue sea is stunning. I had no idea Korea had such nice nature and beauty. The little rocky islet is the Underwater Tomb of King Munmu (661-681 A.D.), who unified the three kingdoms and became the 30th ruler of the Silla Kingdom. The king gave specific instructions to be buried in the East Sea after his death so that he would become a dragon and protect Silla from Japanese intruders.
Historians still debate whether the ashes of the King Munmu were scattered or stored in an urn and placed under the granite. The beauty of the landscape of the underwater tomb reaches its peak in autumn. It was a nice way to relax and end our trip in Gyeongju before going to Busan.


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