hiking Outside Gyeongju Sites to see tips for tourists Ulsan

Going to the River: Mt. Shinbulsan’s Hongnyu Waterfall (홍류폭포) and Eonyang’s Jakcheon-jeong (작천정) Pavilion

Jakcheon-jeong Pavilion, outside Eonyang, Ulsan

Jakcheon-jeong Pavilion, outside Eonyang, Ulsan

One way Koreans like to beat the oppressive heat and humidity of the summer is by “going to the river.” Although it never got past the first post, one of my projects for the blog last summer was to share some of the rivers near Gyeongju where locals like to picnic and swim. One popular area for “going to the river” is just outside of Eonyang (언양), 30 minutes south of Gyeongju on Highway 1. Technically within the Ulsan city limits, Eonyang is traditional market town in the mountains 15 minutes west of Ulsan city. Over the last few decades Eonyang has also become famous as the gateway for tourists and hikers exploring the surrounding the Yeongnam Alps.  Just outside of Eonyang in secluded valley at the foot of Mt. Shinbulsan (신불산) are a couple great places for spending the day picnicking and splashing around by the cool of Jaksujeong River. read more »

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Blog Reboot Summer 2013

Gyo-dong Folk Village, Gyeongju

Gyo-dong Folk Village, Gyeongju

To start off my first post in almost a year, I’d like to apologize to all those folks who’ve posted comments and questions to this blog over the last several months.  I’ve basically been busy as hell this last year, so I hope to breath a second wind into the blog here over the next few months (time willing).  Over this last year, I’ve written the first draft of my thesis for my Masters in Buddhist Studies which, incidentally, involves research into the Silla  Kings Beopheung and Jinheung.  Also, I’ve coauthored a three part series on Gyeognju’s Mt. Namsan (click here to read part 2 and part 3) for the Jogye Order’s English language quarterly, Buddhism and Culture, plus an academic article surveying the life and work of the famed Silla monk, Ven. Wonhyo.  As of last February I changed both my job and  MA program.  Most importantly, however, this last March our second son was born, so everything non-essential has gotten pushed to the side since then.  I hope all the commentors that I’m just now getting back to would be so kind as to forgive this weary grad student, teacher and father for the late reply. read more »

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Bomun Resort Museums Sites to see tips for tourists videos Wierd Gyeongju

Wierd Gyeongju: The Teddy Bear Museum (테디베어박물관) and Teseum (테지움) of Bomun Resort

Entrance to the Teddy Bear Museum, Bomun Resort, Gyeongju

Entrance to the Teddy Bear Museum, Bomun Resort, Gyeongju

After spending an afternoon at Bomun Resort recently, I had an epiphany: teddy bear museums are to Korea what wax museums are to the U.S.  Both are cheesy as hell, prey on bored tourists and are not places you’d want to accidentally get locked in overnight.  Not to mention, both spring up around resorts and tourist traps like mushrooms in a Virginia cow pasture after the rain.   From Jeju Island to Mt. Seoraksan, teddy bear museums are currently the rage at all the major tourist destinations in South Korea. Of course Gyeongju’s Bomun Resort, being possibly the biggest tourist trap in the whole country, is blessed with not one, but two teddy bear museums, and they so happen to be just down the block from each other. read more »

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Going to the River: Girimsa Temple (기림사) and Yongyeonpokpo Waterfalls (용연폭포)

Yongyeonpokpo Waterfalls, Girimsa Temple, Gyeongju

Yongyeonpokpo Waterfalls, Girimsa Temple, Gyeongju

About a month ago a friend on on Facebook asked where around Gyeongju you can “go to the river.”  Unfortunately I’ve been a bit distracted with writing my Master’s thesis over the last month, but I hope to post on a few places to “go to the river” around here while there’s still some of the summer left. There are actually a number of nice swimming holes and lovely picnicking spots by the rivers around Gyeongju which we go to almost every weekend, if the weather’s nice. read more »

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Cycling Routes Gyeongju history Ruins & remains Sites to see Statues & carvings Temples & shrines tips for tourists

Gyeongju Cycling Courses and Maps

Gyeongju Cycling Map

Gyeongju Cycling Map

Gyeongju is really a great place for cycling.  The countryside around Gyeongju is fairly flat and dozens of cement farm roads weave their way through scenic rice paddies and rustic villages.  Cycling’s also the fastest way to visit the dozens of ancient Silla tombs, temples, relics and ruins scattered outside of the city.  Not to mention, you can rent bikes for the day at both the train and bus stations and the bikes are usually in fairly decent shape too.   When I first started this blog I’d planned on posting a lot more on different cycling routes in the area.  Unfortunately, aside from one or two early posts, that never really happened.  To be honest, I’ve probably been on a bike once since my son was born two years ago (a sad fact I hope to soon change). read more »

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Video: Buddha’s Birthday at Bulguksa, Tongdosa and Sinseonsa Temples

 

Since we’ve been on the topic of Buddha’s Birthday lately, I thought I’d post a few HD videos shot at a few of the Buddhist temples around Gyeongju this year on Buddha’s Birthday, aka Seokga Tansinil (석가탄신일). Rob Fioretta, my coworker at Gyeongju University, was kind enough to share with me the video he took of the lantern parade at Gyeongju’s famous and historical Bulguksa (불국사) Temple that night. The lantern parade on Buddha’s Birthday is my favorite time to visit Bulguksa (in fact, it’s one of the few times it’s not filled with hoards of screaming school kids and bus tours) and the atmosphere there is very magical. I’ve been three times since I moved to Gyeongju, though I haven’t shot any new video since 2008. The quality of that old video is pretty lo-fi, so thanks Rob for the update ;-) read more »

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Buddha’s Birthday at Sinseonsa (신선사) Temple on Mt. Danseoksan (단석산)

Miruk Grotto at Sinseonsa Temple, Mt. Danseoksan, Gyeongju

Miruk Grotto at Sinseonsa Temple, Mt. Danseoksan, Gyeongju

Like many things in Gyeongju, I’ve been meaning to write about Mt. Danseoksan for a while, but I’ve been too busy to get around to it.  However, celebrating Buddha’s Birthday, or Seokga Tansinil (석가탄신일), yesterday at the ancient stone grotto of Mirukgul (미룩굴) on Mt. Danseokan has given me the best reason I’m probably going to get.  Located about 10 km south-west of Gyeongju City, Mt. Danseoksan is officially part of Gyeongju National Park and is famous for its history, legends and natural beauty.  Literally meaning “Split Rock Mountain,” Mt. Danseoksan is, in fact, named after one such ancient story involving the famed Silla general Kim Yu-sin. read more »

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Downtown Gyeongju photography

Downtown Gyeongju: Photo Slideshow Part 2

Downtown Gyeongju

Downtown Gyeongju

Oddly, my slideshow last month of photos exploring the grungier, funkier side of Gyeongju’s downtown has turned out to be one of the more popular posts here on Gyeongjublog (which might not be saying much, really). I’m going to keep the write up here brief, as I pretty much said all I had to say about Gyeonju’s downtown as whole in part 1.  Not to mention, I’ve been busy grinding out papers for my Masters courses these last few weeks, so I haven’t had much time for blogging lately. I hope this keeps things from getting too stale until I find a bit more free time.  As promised, here’s part two of the slide show, and if you missed part 1, you can check it out here.  Same as before, you can scroll down through the page to view the slideshow or click on the photo above to start flipping through. Hope you enjoy the photos!

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Restaurant Review #22: Handmade Kalguksu (손칼국수) at Kim Yu-shin’s Shrine

Son Kalguksu Restaurant Kim Yu-sin's Tomb, Gyeongju

Son Kalguksu Restaurant Kim Yu-sin's Tomb, Gyeongju

The kalguksu (칼국수) restaurant at General Kim Yu-shin’s memorial shrine is one of those hidden gems of Gyeongju; the operative word here being hidden.  It’s actually located in one of the side buildings of Sungmujeon (숭무전), the Confucian Shrine venerating the spirit tablet of the famed Silla general Kim Yu-shin (595~673 C.E.). The shrine itself is a bit hard to find as it’s tucked in a little horseshoe valley down from Kim Yu-sin’s Tomb hidden by the train tracks.  The restaurant is in a nondescript farm house to the side with just a small placard advertising 손칼국수,  or  ”hand-cut wheat noodles.”  If you didn’t know where it was, you’d probably never find it.  For as hidden as it is, it’s usually busy, which is a good sign. read more »

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Downtown Gyeongju history photography tips for tourists

Downtown Gyeongju: Photo Slideshow Part 1

Downtown Gyeongju

Downtown Gyeongju

This post probably won’t win me any awards from the Korean Tourism Organization, but once upon a time I was a Fine Arts student.  So after the last few weeks of beautifully blossoming cherry trees, please forgive me if I’m in the mood to post something a bit more urban and gritty.  Here’s the first part of a slideshow of I’ve put together of Gyeongju, so you can scroll down or click on the photos for the slideshow viewer.  I wanted to break in my new Nikon D5100 last month and went for a stroll downtown, so most of the photos here are from that shoot.  Also I’ve thrown in a few older pictures that, for some reason or another, haven’t made it up on the blog yet. read more »

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