So I’m a bit late with this post. I have been keeping busy these last few weeks and haven’t had free time to sit and blog. That is, until now!
During the first weekend of April, Michelle, Lizzie and I joined Adventure Korea’s bus tour to Gyeongju to see the Cherry Blossom trees in full bloom. For those of you living in Korea, it’s worth it to check out Adventure Korea’s Facebook page/website (http://www.adventurekorea.com/). They have ongoing trips during weekends and long weekends. Some of them include day trips to the DMZ or paragliding, weekend temple stays and long distance, long weekend trips to places like Japan, Busan or Beijing (Summer 2014). I should also mention that the Facebook group When in Korea (WinK) also has similar tours and trips for foreigners living in South Korea.
Anyway, onto the bike tour. First off, it was definitely worth it and I would recommend others to check out this area of Korea. It cost 97,000 won for the weekend. We left Friday evening around midnight and reached Gyeongju at about 5:30 am. We checked into our hotel, slept for a couple hours and then woke up at 8:30 for breakfast. I won’t discuss accommodations because they were disappointing; but, the rest of the weekend made up for that. By 9:30 am, we were on the bus and headed to the bike store to pick the bike we would use for the day. Once Lizzie, Michelle and I were set, we made our way to various tourist spots along the map we were given. We were told to return to the bike station at 6 pm. This gave us several hours to roam free!
During our long and adventurous day, we made our way to several areas of Gyeongju. Our first stop was the Hwangnyongsa Temple site. Along the way, we observed dozens of fully bloomed cherry blossom trees. They covered almost all of the streets in the area, making the scenery fantastic.
After biking for a few hours, we decided to stop for some traditional Dak Galbi. This is a traditional Korean dish consisting of chicken in a spicy red sauce with stir fried vegetables and tteok (rice cake). It was a sharing portion, as are most dishes in Korea, so we all feasted for about 10,000 won each.
Once we were finished lunch, we carried on with visiting the tomb of General Kim Yu-shin, a temple, the Anapji pond and a Gyeongju’s National Museum. We also stopped at a little festival going on for some snacks.
That evening, we were exhausted. We got back to our hotel, relaxed for a little while and then walked the area looking for a restaurant to eat dinner. We ended up at a place which specialized in serving bibimbap. Our meal was good and we found some ice cream for dessert next door.
The next morning, we woke up early, had some breakfast and the entire group headed to Namsan Mountain at the heart of Gyeongju’s National Park. Although we only climbed one section of it, in order to reach the temple, it was hard! I have never felt my heart pounding so fast after reaching the top. Needless to say, the air felt crisp and refreshing, and the view was awesome. Afterwards, we concluded with Bunhwangsa Temple and Seokguram Grotto, had lunch and made our way back to the bus.
The bus departed Gyeongju around 2 pm and we arrived in Seoul at about 8 pm. It was a long and exhausting weekend but well worth the trek!
With Spring already here and summer approaching, many outdoor events and festivals will be taking place in Korea. This weekend, I am planning to attend the Lotus Lantern Festival, which is held annually in honor of Buddah’s birthday. It is designed to bring local and international visitors together. It begins with a lighting ceremony, followed by a lantern exhibition at the Cheonggyecheon Stream, Jogyesa Temple and Bonguensa Temple. It should be fun! I am also looking forward to a four day weekend coming up in May, when my boyfriend will be visiting. I will be sure to update everyone on the Lantern Festival and all of the festivities which will take place during my long weekend for Buddha’s birthday/Children’s Day! 🙂