Monthly Archives: November 2009

Food & drink Gyeongju restaurants Seonggeon-dong tips for tourists

Restaurant Review #2: Hwangjanggun (황장군) Galbitang

Hwangjanggun Galbitang Restaurant

Hwangjanggun Galbitang Restaurant

If you’re in the neighborhood of Seonggeon-dong for dinner and not really in the mood for the same old samgyeopsal (삼겹살) (grilled pork), try out Hwanjanggun (황장군) sometime.  This place has been a favorite of ours years.  Yeah, I know I throw that word “favorite” around a lot, but we go here about once a week, so that’s saying something. read more »

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Buddhist culture Cycling Routes Gyeongju Statues & carvings Temples & shrines tips for tourists

Cycling Route: Buddha Triad of Dudaeri (두대리마애석불입상)

Dudaeri Buddha Triad

Dudaeri Buddha Triad

Sure, in Gyeongju Mt. Namsan (남산) has the lion’s share of ancient Shilla (신라) statues and carvings, so it’s well worth taking the time to explore if you can.  But the truth is, most of the surrounding mountains have atl east one ancient Buddha that’s pretty cool.  Plus the other mountains aren’t crawling with hiking clubs and bus tours  on the weekend, like Namsan.  Some places, you might not see a single other soul. read more »

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Stories, legends & people

St. Wonhyo’s Awakening

Portrait of St. Wonhyo at Bunhwangsa Temple (from the internet)

Portrait of St. Wonhyo, Bunhwangsa Temple (from Google images)

The are a lot of great stories and legends from the Shilla dynasty.   Most have to do with places around Gyeongju, so I’m hoping to retell a few of them here.  Bunhwangsa temple was the home of one of the most famous Korean Buddhist saints of all time, Venerable monk Wonhyo (617 – 686 CE) .   St. Wonhyo is known and respected for a lot of reasons and there are some pretty wild stories about his antics, but I figure I’ll start with the story of his Great Awakening. read more »

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Downtown Gyeongju Ruins & remains tips for tourists

Old Fortress Walls of Gyeongju Eupseong (경주 읍성)

Gyeongju Eupseong Fortress Walls

Gyeongju Eupseong Fortress Walls

Right around the corner from the train station is a curious piece of recent Gyeongju history (recent being it’s only a couple hundred years old rather than 1,500).  Over the last year or two the city’s been taking pains to restore the old Chosun era city walls and battlements of Gyeongju Eupseong (East fortress). read more »

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Bomun-dong Cycling Routes Gyeongju Ruins & remains tips for tourists

Ancient Stone Bathtub of Bomun Temple (보문사의 욕조)

Stone Bathtub of Bomun Temple

If you’re at all like me and like your history with a bit of quirkiness, you might want to check out the ancient stone bathtub of Bomunsa Temple (보문사).  The ancient stone bathtub of Bomunsa is… well, a big stone bathtub… um, in the middle of a rice field… um, yeah… read more »

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Food & drink Gyeongju restaurants Seonggeon-dong tips for tourists

Restaurant Review #1: Sangalae (선갈래) Dakgalbi

Sangallae Dakgalbi Restaurant, Gyeongju

Sangallae Dakgalbi Restaurant, Gyeongju

I’m going to make a point of getting some restaurant reviews posted up here every so often, for the sake of both visitors and locals.   That said, my first pick to review is already a bit hit with the local crowd: Sangalae (선갈래) dakgalbi  (닭갈비) restaurant.   Sangalae  is smack in the heart of Seonggeondong (성건동), the playground of local Uni. students.   Thanks to it’s great food and low prices, it’s always packed. I hit up Sangalae yet again this last Wednesday with a couple of guy friends (purely for research purposes of course) and it didn’t fail to please. read more »

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Buddhist culture Bulguk-dong Gyeongju Temples & shrines tips for tourists

Buddha’s Birthday Lantern Parade

Ok, so even though it’s over 6 months away, I’ve got to say something about my favorite Korean holiday: Buddha’s Birthday (Seoktanil).   On the night of Buddha’s Birthday, most major temples hold a lantern parade.  I’ve had the pleasure of catching it at several Buddhist temples over the years and I have to say it’s one of the coolest things I’ve experienced here in Korea.

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Food & drink Gyeongju restaurants Seonggeon-dong tips for tourists

Tips for Tourists Part 1: Seonggeong-dong (성건동) Nightlife

Izikaya Bar and Restaurant, Gyeongju

Izikaya Bar and Restaurant, Gyeongju

Ok, so it’s probably pretty lame that my first tip for tourists is about nightlife.  If you came here with the sole purpose of getting your party on, you’ve come to the wrong town.  Gyeongju ain’t got nothing on the big cities for live music, dance clubs or western style bars.  Still, for it’s size, it can  hold it’s own.
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Gyo-dong Sites to see tips for tourists

Flower Village Oriental Hospital (꽃마을한병원)

Conmaul O. Med. Hospital

Conmaul O. Med. Hospital (꽃마을한병원)

If you are out cycling or even walking around the park complex with Cheomseongdae Observatory and Gyerim Forest, I highly recommend taking a few hours to explore the neighborhood just to the south west, called Gyo-dong.  Just minutes from ground zero of tourism in Gyeongju are some real gems of traditional culture that not many foreigner visitors seem to get to.

Just across national road 35 from the Oreung tombs park is one of these gems:  Conmaul Hanbang Byeongwon (꽃마을한병원), or “Flower Village Oriental Medical Hospital.”  The grounds are gorgeous and they’re open to the public, so don’t be shy about taking some time to go in and explore around.  The traditional revivalist wood-and-plaster architecture is pretty cool.

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Cycling Routes Geumcheok-ri Gyeongju Stories, legends & people tips for tourists tombs

Cycling Route: The Geumcheokri Tombs (금척리 고분군)

Ancient Tombs of Geumcheokri

Ancient Tombs of Geumcheokri (금척리 고분군)

One of the most distinctive things about Gyeongju are the ancient Shilla (신라) tombs scattered around town.  Yeah, they’re pretty cool, but there are literally hundreds of them around here.  After a couple a’ years, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all.  At least that’s what I’d been thinking until I finally got out to the Geomcheokri tombs (금척리 고분군) a few weeks ago.  I’ve got to say, they were pretty impressive.

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