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Gyeongju Hotels and housing Korean culture tips for tourists

Housing: Stay Overnight in One of Gyeongju’s “Goteak” Traditional Houses (경주 고턕체험)

Seoak Seowon, Seondo-dong, Gyeongju

Seoak Seowon, Seondo-dong, Gyeongju

If you’re one of those intrepid travelers who enjoy staying in unique or unusual accommodations, then I definitely recommend spending the night in one of the “Gyeongju Goteak” traditional houses during your visit.  The Gyeonjgu Goteak program was established a few years ago by the Ministry of Employment and Labor as a creative effort to help pay for the upkeep of a number of local historical buildings by renting them out as housing for visiting tourists.   Currently run by the Silla Cultural Institute (신라문화원), Gyeognju Goteak offers housing at five or six different historical “hanuk” style houses in the Gyeongju area, most of which are several hundred years old.  Although, I’ve not actually stayed in any of these places myself, I visit a number of them frequently as they’re quite scenic and are worth visiting even if you’re not staying the night.  In addition to providing unique and photogenic lodgings, a stay in one of the Gyeognju Goteak also includes complementary cultural activities, such as a tea ceremony and traditional arts and crafts. read more »

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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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Wierd Gyeongju: The Wooden Fish Knocker of Bunhwangsa (분황사) Temple

Wooden Fish Knocker, Bunhwangsa Temple, Gyeongju

Wooden Fish Knocker, Bunhwangsa Temple, Gyeongju

As one of the few architectural structures left standing from the Silla Dynasty, Bunhwangsa (분황사) Temple is one of the “must see” historical sites in Gyeongju.  Built in 634 C.E. by order of the legendary Queen Seondeok (선덕여왕), Bunhwangsa is most famous for its three-tiered pagoda.  Originally built as seven or nine tiers, the pagoda was badly damaged during both the Mongolian Invasions of the 13th century, when the neighboring Hwangnyeongsa Temple (황룡사) and nine-story pagoda were burned to the ground, and again during the Hideyoshi Invasion of 1592.  Curiously, the pagoda was built in “imitation brick” style, meaning that Silla workmen actually took the time to carve stones into the shapes of bricks to imitate the brick pagodas then fashionable in China.  Seems to me like it would’ve been a lot easier to make it out of actual bricks, but I’ll leave the debate over that minor detail up to the historians. read more »

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Slideshow: Autumn in Namsan-dong (남산동) Village

Muryangsa Temple, Namsan-dong, Gyeognju

Muryangsa Temple, Namsan-dong, Gyeognju

To be honest the Korean urban lifestyle doesn’t really do much for me.  Sure, I sometimes miss the art and culture, the night clubs and the convenience.  But after living in London, Berlin and Barcelona, there’s really not anything new that I get out of big cities in Korea.  All it takes is a walk through one of the many quaint and quiet farm villages near Gyeongju to remind me why I like living with the Korean countryside so close at hand.   One of my favorite places to visit is Namsan-dong (남산동);  a string of farming villages just 15 minutes outside of town tucked in the shadow of Gyeongju’s historic Mt. Namsan (남산). read more »

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Restaurant Review #15: Dosol Maeul (도솔 마을)

Dosol Maeul Traditional Restaurant, Gyeongju

Dosol Maeul Traditional Restaurant, Gyeongju

I apologize for being a bit slack with the restaurant reviews here lately.  It’s been long overdue that I post on one of the classic tourist restaurants in Gyeongju: Dosol Maeul (도솔 마을).  And, unlike a lot of over-hyped tourist restaurants around here, Dosol Maeul is well deserving of its reputation. read more »

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The Quiet Beauty of the Gyeongju Cultural Center (경주문화원)

Front Gate, Gyeongju Cultural Center

Front Gate, Gyeongju Cultural Center

Downtown Gyeongju can sometimes seem a mess of cars, cluttered streets and concrete buildings.  Yet tucked behind the Police Station, is the quiet oasis of the Gyeongju Cultural Center (경주문화원) with its lovely traditional architecture and serene gardens.  It has a relaxed, unassuming sort of beauty and, although it’s not quite Bulguksa, it’s home to a fair bit of local history in its own right. read more »

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Wierd Gyeongju: The World’s Largest Silkworm (누에 체함학습관)

Silkworm Experience Learning Center, Yeongcheon

Silkworm Experience Learning Center, Yeongcheon

Inspired by the “Weird America” books back home,  I’ve decided to start a series of posts on some of the quirky, cheesy or just plain strange tourist attractions that abound around here.  I could begin the with the wish-granting stone of Cheonwonsa Temple (천원사), or the legendary Vagina Valley of Mt. Obongsan (오봉산), but I figure it’s only fitting that I start with the giant silkworm statue of Oryong-ri (오룡리). It’s reputed to be the largest silkworm statue in the world (that is according to what little info I could find online).  Though, I don’t think anyone has phoned the kind folks over at Guinness about it yet. read more »

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Blog News: K-blog Love and Links

I’ve been so busy with family visiting for the last few weeks (along with spending 4 days in the hospital over Chuseok) that I forgot to mention that some pretty exciting things were happening in the blog-o-sphere last month.  It seems the Sam-shin deigned to smile upon Gyeongjublog and blessed it with a fair bit of K-blog love back in September. read more »

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Buddhist culture Outside Gyeongju Statues & carvings Temples & shrines tips for tourists

Manbulsa (만불사): Temple of Ten-thousand Buddhas

Buddha Labyrith, Manbulsa Temple, Yeongcheon

Buddha Labyrinth, Manbulsa Temple, Yeongcheon

If you’ve ever taken the bus from Gyeongju to Daegu, you might’ve caught a fleeting glimpse of a giant golden Buddha off in the mountains to the north.  No, this isn’t some apparition induced by sleep deprivation or soju poisoning.  This huge Buddha actually overlooks Manbulsa (만불사), or literally “Temple of Ten-thousand Buddhas,” nestled at the foot of  Mt. Gwansan (관산) on the way to Yeongcheon (영쳔). read more »

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Itinerary: 10 Days in Gyeongju

Tongdosa Temple, South of Gyeongju

Tongdosa Temple, South of Gyeongju

Not to become a broken record or anything, but most tourists just bounce down to Gyeongju for a long weekend, hit up the big tourist sites, and head home Sunday night. It’s a shame really. You can barely even scratch the surface of what Gyeonju has to offer in 2 days. To finally prove what I’ve been harping on so long, I’ve cooked up a 10 day itinerary for visitors to Gyeongju. That’s right: over a week and a half of things to see and do in the area.  If you don’t have 10 days, feel free to pick and choose what suites your liking.  But here are some ideas for exploring a deeper side of Gyeongju and Korea as a whole. read more »

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