I’ll skip my usually apologies to my regular readers for not posting in over almost month. Suffice to say, I’ve been swept up in the usual start-of-semester whirlwind lately. Thankfully things are finally settling into a routine and with spring at our door step, there are a few things to catch up on. For starters, cherry blossom season is close upon us again. If you’re planning to frolic among the flowers this year, the Korean Tourism Organization has recently released its predictions for the blossoming dates and peak times for 2012. It looks like the cherries here in Gyeongju will begin blooming around April 2nd and will be at their peak between April 11th and the 20th, so mark your calendars. And if you’re looking tips on places in town to check out the cherry blossoms, I’ve posted suggestions in years past on the best spots for the blossoms.
Hot on the heels of the blooming of the cherries comes this year’s Cherry Blossom Marathon, which is scheduled for Saturday, April the 7th. The marathon will start and finish at the Gyeongju Expo Park, with runners choosing from the 5 km, 10 km, half or full marathon courses. Unfortunately, registration has already closed. However, I’m posting the route map here, if only so folks know which roads to avoid on the 7th. I imagine, traffics going to be a bit nuts.
Also, for lovers of literature, music or the arts, the “Grazie Reads” performing arts open mic night is up and running again after a long winter hiatus. The first event is actually scheduled for Friday, March 30th (being tomorrow), at 9:30 pm at Grazie Italian Restaurant. On the bill is a mix of music, readings and maybe a slideshow or two. Jun Bae will have wine and pizza specials on for the evening, so please come out and support the local expat art scene. The Grazie Italian Restaurant is located in Seonggeon-dong, just a few blocks down from the Dong-dae Sagori Intersection. Walk away from the intersection towards the bridge, take the first right after SaRae (사래) restaurant, and it’s at the end of the block. Or you can check here for a map.
Fans of dance and theater will also want to know that “Miso II” has indefinitely extended its run at the World Culture Expo’s Performance Hall at Bomun Resort. “Miso II: Silla, Land of the Gods” is an adaptation of the ever popular “Miso” performance at Seoul’s Chongdong Theater, which showcases traditional Korean music and dance. “Miso II,” however, incorporates the myths and legends from Gyeongju’s ancient Silla Dynasty in three acts. All performances begin at 7:30 pm and run Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets cost 20,000 to 50,000 won per person depending on seating. For reservations, directions and other information, phone 054-740-3800 or visit their website.
And keeping with the theme, a series of free traditional Korean music concerts are being held in downtown Gyeongju on every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month. Titled “Yogurt,” the performances feature traditional Korean musical instruments, like the gayageum and janggo, and possibly even lessons in playing them. The concerts are held at the Silla-sori Concert Hall, just around the corner from the Gyeongju Train Station, and start at 3pm. From the station, cross to the opposite side of the street and turn left. Passing the car rental shop, take your first right on to “Dongseong-ro” street. The concert hall is building number 258-2 on the right. For more information, call Eunyoung at: 054-742-2524.
Incidentally, if anyone’s looking for a place to stay during their visit to Gyeongju this spring, my friend Joey has recently opened a new home stay here in town called the Tavo Guesthouse. Joey’s an old student of mine at Dongguk who’s lived in Australia and speaks fluent English. He’s also a cheerful, knowledgeable and helpful host. The rates are reasonable, starting at about 60,000 won a night, and the facilities are modern, clean and cozy. Guests at the Tavo House are guaranteed a more personable experience than at any of the local pensions, love motels downtown or tourist hotels at Bomun Resort. However, reservations are definitely recommended. The Tavo House is just minutes from the Gyeongju Train Station and a shuttle is provided for pick up. For more info, visit the Tavo House Facebook page.