Gyeongju, December 20th
Asia trip 2018-2019

From Daejeon, I get on a train to Daegu. There, I take an intercity bus to Gyeongju.

In South Korea the distances are short. A high-speed train from Seoul in the north to Busan in the south just takes two hours and forty minutes. So, it is easy to move around. I travel to Gyeongju. I go to the hotel but I cannot check in until 14:00, so I leave my bag there and start my day. Some of the most historically relevant places are close to the center of the city. 

My first stop is the Daereungwon Royal Tomb. Early in the morning is a quiet place perfect to wander around. The tumuli give the place a calm appearance. As the grass has already gone to sleep for the winter, the site has a yellow pastel color. I am surprised by the quantity and variety of birds in the park that can be seen and heard. For me it is a moment of peaceful contemplation, I have never felt so at peace.

"Silla (57 BCE– 935 CE) (Hangul: 신라; Hanja: 新羅; RR: Silla Korean pronunciation: [ɕ]) was a kingdom located in southern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula. Silla, along with Baekje and Goguryeo, formed the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

Founded by Hyeokgeose of Silla of Park family, the Korean dynasty was ruled by the Gyeongju Gim (Kim) (김, 金) clan for 586 years, Miryang Park (Bak) (박, 朴) clan for 232 years, Seok clan for 172 years. It began as a chiefdom in the Samhan confederacies, once allied with Sui China and then Tang China, until it eventually conquered the other two kingdoms, Baekje in 660 and Goguryeo in 668."

Wikipedia contributors. (2018, December 21). Silla. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Exiting from the Royal Tomb by the North Gate, there is an entrance to the park were Cheomseongdae Observatory (경주 첨성대) is located. A few people take a small touristic bus that goes around the park. I walk all the way to the observatory. Cheomseongdae Observatory is a small structure that will not bring a lot of attention, if not because of its historical significance. 

I exit the park to go to the Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond. There is traditional music in the speakers. The music adds to the relaxing feel of the surroundings. Running water falls into a small pond made in-place of stone. The stone pond is a remaining from the Silla Kingdom. I stop to enjoy the sound of the water and look at the surroundings.

Five minutes away is located the National Museum of Gyeongju. It has several galleries dedicated to the Silla Kingdom. I recognise some of the objects that are represented all over the city. A crown or a bell are symbols in signs, tiles, and many other places.

I go back to the hotel by the same path I used to get to the museum. I re-use the Daereungwon Royal Tomb ticket and take the opportunity for a last look around. I have not seen much of the city. I have spent most of the time in parks surrounded by grass, trees, birds and water. So, I walk around shops and buildings just while going back to the hotel.

That night I sleep over 10 hours. After many days of traveling around and jumping from city to city, a very relaxing day and a lot of sleep is a welcome change.