Category: Gyeongju


Tuesday, February 22:  The whole time I was in Korea, my good intention was to do a temple stay. However, one thing or another kept waylaying my plans, so it wasn’t until the Tuesday and Wednesday right before I left the country that I was finally able to go.  And though I had seen many lovely and enticing temples while I was in Korea, I didn’t have time to do anything but go to the one closest to Daegu, Golgulsa, also known as the Stone Buddha Temple.  This temple is located 20 km east of Gyeongju, a city about an hour east of Daegu.  I took a 40 minute bus from Gyeongju (the 150 bus) and then a 15 minute walk from the bus stop to the temple.

Archery at Golgulsa

Archery at Golgulsa

Korea’s Templestay program is quite extensive and provides visitors with a chance to visit a traditional Korean temple which “preserves the original flavor of Buddhist culture” in the country, and to give people a chance to experience the daily life of the practitioners there.  There were many gorgeous temples throughout Korea that I thought, as I visited them, would be perfect and idyllic spots to do temple stays.  However, since I waited until the last-minute, I didn’t have the time to travel to one of these scenic temples.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASadly, Golgulsa is neither gorgeous nor scenic.  As a matter of fact, the bus from Gyeongju dropped me along a road where I had to traipse past two huge industrial plants spewing smoke and toxic particles into the air. I was carrying my bag with lots of layers of warm clothes because I was told the morning meditation hall was not heated.  And it was the dead of winter.  So I wanted to be prepared.

i had no idea i was going to have to do martial arts... :-(

i had no idea i was going to have to do martial arts… 😦

The one thing I didn’t know until I got there was that Golgulsa is the headquarters of the Sunmudo training center.  Sunmudo, or Zen Martial Art, is a “training method in the form of Buddhism,” and has secretly been handed down through the centuries by Buddhist families.  It’s basically martial arts for monks.

According to the pamphlet which is mostly in Korean but has a few choice words in English,   “sun is the way to attain an intuitive illumination of mind and spirit through meditation.  Mu means martial arts and do means way.  Those who practice Sunmudo say one can attain a higher state of mind through both movement of body and spiritual calm.”  Another piece of literature provided by the temple says Sunmudo is “designed to extinguish worldly pain and attain enlightenment.  The goal of this training is harmonization of mind and body, united with breathing.”  Sunmudo is composed of “still training,” which includes sitting meditation, yoga-like exercises, and Gi-gong/Qigong, and “active training,” which includes gymnastics and martial arts.  There is usually “still training” in the morning and “active training” in the evening.

ring around the bull's eye

ring around the bull’s eye

Of course, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Upon arrival, I immediately was told to put my things in my room and join the other temple stay visitors for archery.  It was freezing cold outdoors and there was crusty snow all over the ground.  Everyone was shooting arrows in the general direction of two large targets across an expanse of white.  The monk in charge demonstrated the proper way to hold the bow and arrow so as not to accidentally poke your own eye out or seriously maim someone else.  Surprisingly, I grasped the proper way to hold the bow and arrow, took aim, and immediately, on my first try, hit the ring immediately around the bull’s-eye.  The monk was shocked, as was I!  I managed to hit the outermost rings of the targets a couple more times, but the rest of my arrows ended up stuck all askew out of the snow like the needles of a porcupine suffering a severe case of bed head.

a monk doing sunmudo

a monk doing sunmudo

Sunmundo

Sunmudo

After archery, everyone else did  “community work” but the monks asked me, since I just arrived, if I would like to see the Sunmudo demonstration. Always preferring “watching” to “working,” I followed his suggestion and climbed up a steep and icy hill to the uppermost temple.  There I watched the monks doing a lot of crazy antics, which must have been the aforementioned “SunMuDo.”  It was quite interesting with monks in various types of costumes doing dance-like steps in what looked more like an artistic performance rather than a martial arts demonstration.

the Sunmudo demonstration on Tuesday evening

the Sunmudo demonstration on Tuesday evening

After the demonstration, I was left to my own devices with instructions only to come to dinner at 17:30.  Before going back to the dormitory, I explored along the top of the mountain, which contains a sculptured MayaTathagata Buddha and twelve rock caves.  I was surprised to find multitudes of little old men and ladies clambering along these rock temples and caves, poking into each one.  It was slippery and icy, yet these frail old people were negotiating the steep and icy patches without any hesitation.  This baffled and astounded me.  Meanwhile, I was my normal klutzy self and kept losing my footing on the slippery patches.

Koreans clambering all over the rock caves and niches

Koreans clambering all over the rock caves and niches

I felt really bedraggled after my hike past the industrial plants and the long walk up the steep hill to the temple.  Walking back down the hill from the temple was not so easy either, with the road a solid sheet of ice on an almost vertical slope.  I slipped several times on the way up so was wary and slow going down.  When I finally got down the hill, I decided to “take a rest” in my bare bones room.  On the heated floor, I piled layers of Korean style mats and lay down to take a nap.

the dormitories at Golgulsa

the dormitories at Golgulsa

At dinner I met a Korean woman who was a Christian.  She had been at the temple stay for two weeks and was here for the purpose of losing weight.  With the all-vegetarian meals and the exercise, she felt like it was a healthy way to spend a vacation.  All meals at the temple are vegetarian.  As a matter of fact, the rules of this temple say: “Please restrain from bring [sic] any outside food.  Alcohol, Meat and smoking is prohibited.”  Some of the other monks who have been here for long periods of time say it is impossible to have any energy from the all-vegetarian diet and the martial arts exercises.  Thus, the head monk allows the monks to go off the premises to eat meat, but they are not allowed to bring it on the grounds of the temple.

my monk outfit ~ pretending to be a monk :-)

my monk outfit ~ pretending to be a monk 🙂

Other rules of the temple are as follows: 1) Please follow the schedule fully and on time.  Do not let your personal habits interfere with the program; (2) During free time please do not leave the temple premises.  After evening training do not leave the temple, enter others’ rooms or wander around the grounds; and (3) Please do not wear provocative clothing or clothing that shows too much flesh.  Wear simple clothes.

It was too cold to wear anything but clothes that covered myself fully, so there was no worry there.  Also, when I first arrived at the temple, they gave me a kind of padded monk outfit with a square-shaped yellow quilted vest and a very baggy (and comfortable) pair of gray pants that wrap and tie to fit any size.  This was what I wore during my entire temple stay.

people play drums after the Sunmudo training

people play drums after the Sunmudo training

After the healthy vegetarian meal, which stuffed me quite nicely, we had orientation at 18:10  and then an evening chanting service that lasted a half-hour.  We sat on the cold floor and chanted and meditated in the building adjacent to the archery field.  At 19:00, we had an hour of Sunmudo training.  This I didn’t care for at all!  I came here to relax and meditate and get in touch with my spiritual side.  I was envisioning sitting cross-legged and meditating for long periods of time.  Instead I had to stretch and kick and hold awkward poses interminably.  By the time all was said and done, I was exhausted and aching all over.  This was more exercise than I had the entire time I was in Korea!

my bare bones room with the heated floor

my bare bones room with the heated floor

I went back to my room and got cozy, tucked into my little bed of mats.  I read the book I brought along to prepare myself for India, Brick Lane by Monica Ali.  On that Tuesday evening, it was only 5 more days until I was to leave Korea for good, heading to India for 3 weeks before returning home to America.  The temple required lights out by 22:00, but I was asleep long before that, exhausted from pretending to be a martial-arts monk.

Wednesday, February 23:  I set an alarm because I heard that once the monks walked by our rooms at 4 a.m. tapping on their dried gourds, we only had 10 minutes to get up and walk up the steep hill to the morning meditation hall.

The temple at the top of the icy hill

The temple at the top of the icy hill

It was pitch dark and freezing cold as we slipped up the hill to the temple.  The meditation room was in the basement of the temple, which was freezing!  I had on my heavy Korean winter coat, a hat and gloves, along with multiple layers underneath, so it wasn’t too miserable.  Luckily I came prepared!  The morning chanting service went from 4:30 to 5:00, after which time we did a sitting meditation for a while.  Then we walked outside, once again negotiating the treacherous icy slope to do our walking meditation.  When we finally got to the bottom of the hill, we spent a while walking around in circles in the black and frigid air.

FINALLY, at 5:50, we went to the dining hall where we got to eat Barugongyang, a Buddhist Ceremonial Meal.  Afterwards, we sat in a circle and had tea and conversation with the head monk, telling him something about ourselves.  Then we did some more sitting meditation and many people did 108 bows.  I didn’t do this because of my bad knee, but instead did more of the sitting meditation.  Finally, after showers, at 11:00, I climbed back up the hill to the temple, along with the rest of the group of visitors who yesterday did “community work,” to watch another Sunmudo demonstration.

another sunmudo demonstration

another sunmudo demonstration

more Sunmudo

more Sunmudo

This one was more enjoyable because the sun was out and it was a little warmer.  I also got to pose with the monks in a Sunmudo pose!

a sunmudo photo op

a sunmudo photo op

Here’s a video of a small part of the SunMuDo demonstration I watched.

On the way back down to the dining hall for lunch, I got into a nice conversation with a 17-year-old Korean boy who said that he came here to have some solitude and quiet.  He said he was tired of overcrowded Korea and he loved being out in nature.  He had actually been at the temple for a couple of days but planned to stay several weeks.  He said he doesn’t like the schedule at this temple, especially the Sunmudo training.  He just wanted to have a quiet time far from the madding crowds.

I second his emotion….

inside the temple

inside the temple

After lunch, I packed up my duffel bag, and walked again down the road past the industrial plants and waited quite some time for the bus going back to Gyeongju.  I only wish I had done my temple stay earlier, so I could have chosen a nicer temple without the Sunmudo training.  Another time, maybe, in another country.  Possibly Japan?

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Saturday, May 15:  This morning we checked out of the Kolon Hotel, and Anna and Seth headed back to Daegu.  I decided to stay till later in the day so I could return to Bulguksa Temple and see a few more of Gyeongju’s amazing “cultural assets.”  I had seen a few things in the Bulguksa gift shop that I wanted to buy: a necklace and a beautiful painting.

me back at Bulguksa Temple

me back at Bulguksa Temple

Me at Bulguksa Temple

Me at Bulguksa Temple

I then headed to the Tumuli in Hwangnam-ri, built in the early Silla period.  The large tombs scattered throughout this park are wood-lined chamber tombs with stone mounds.  The small tombs do not have mounds at all.

Tumuli in Hwangnam-ri

Tumuli in Hwangnam-ri

The Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla is a park with 20 large or small tombs from the Three Kingdoms Period.  Most of them have round earthen mounds, but there are double gourd-like mounds for the burial of a husband and wife.  In the center is the Tomb of King Michu, the 13th King of Silla.

Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla

Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla

Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla

Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla

Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla

Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla

Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla

Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla

pond at Tumuli in Hwangnam-ri

pond at Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla

pond at Tumuli in Hwangnam-ri

pond at Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla

pond at Tumuli in Hwangnam-ri

pond at Royal Tomb of King Michu of Silla

me in front of the pond

me in front of the pond

As I headed out of the park, I came across a little shack of a shop with this enticing sign.

Everything is very cheap!! Oh boy!

Everything is very cheap!! Oh boy!

And then as I headed to the bus station, I passed this little pond with running stallions.  I didn’t know the significance of this.

a pond with horses

a pond with horses

horse statues near the pond

horse statues near the pond

horses

horses

Finally, as I left the park, I saw wide open fields where kids were playing football.

field of dreams

field of dreams

I headed back on the bus to Daegu, where I relaxed for the rest of the weekend. 🙂

Friday, May 14:  On our third morning Anna, Seth and I went up to Bulguksa Temple; Myrna ended up joining us.  Construction of this temple was begun by Prime Minister Gin Dae-seong in 751, the 10th year of King Gyeongdeok, and was completed in 774, the 10th year of King Hyegong.  It served as a center of Silla Buddhism and of prayer for the protection of the country from foreign invasion.  Sadly, prayer didn’t save the temple as Japanese invaders burned it to the ground in 1593; it was finally restored in 1973.  In 1995, along with Seokguram grotto, the temple was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

a pond at the entrance to Bulguksa Temple

a pond at the entrance to Bulguksa Temple

Anna & Seth at Bulguksa Temple

Anna & Seth at Bulguksa Temple

me at Bulguksa Temple

me at Bulguksa Temple

at Bulguksa Temple

at Bulguksa Temple

Myrna with a drum at Bulguksa Temple

Myrna with a drum at Bulguksa Temple

Lanterns at Bulguksa Temple

Lanterns at Bulguksa Temple

Bulguksa Temple

Bulguksa Temple

Bulguksa Temple

Bulguksa Temple

Making wishes at Bulguksa Temple

Making wishes at Bulguksa Temple

Wishes at Bulguksa Temple

Wishes at Bulguksa Temple

Wishes at Bulguksa Temple

Wishes at Bulguksa Temple

me back at the entrance to Bulguksa Temple

me back at the entrance to Bulguksa Temple

With some strange company near the Bulguksa Temple entrance

With some strange company near the Bulguksa Temple entrance

After Bulguksa, we visited the oldest astronomical observatory in East Asia, called Cheomseongdae.  It was built during the reign of Silla Queen Seondeok (reign: 632-647).  The bottle-shaped tower made of square granite stones stands on a square stone base.  Up to the 12th layer from the bottom,  this hollow tower was filled with soil and pebbles.  Between the 13th and 15th layer, there is a square opening through which an observer can ascend to the top.

Cheomseongdae

Cheomseongdae

Cheomseongdae

Cheomseongdae

Next to Cheomseongdae was a lovely field of green grass where families were out running around….such an idyllic scene, with a nice breeze and tombs and mountains in the background.

fields of green near Cheomseongdae

fields of green near Cheomseongdae

I also loved the strange Gyerim Forest, where apparently a baby king was found in a tree when people heard a rooster crowing.

the strange surreal Gyerim Forest

the strange surreal Gyerim Forest

Gyerim Forest

Gyerim Forest

me in Gyerim Forest

me in Gyerim Forest

Thursday, May 13:  This morning I went to the seminar, searching the room for Coffee J’s smiling face.  No sign of him.  I rang his phone and it was turned off.  An hour went by.  Another.  Finally, he showed up, with bright red face and reeking of soju!!  There were no further meetings with co-teachers and we were released at 1:00!  Coffee J and I parted ways, as I planned to stay in Gyeongju for the weekend to explore the innumerable “cultural assets” there.

Mr. Che, Seth’s co-teacher, drove us around Gyeongju to see several cultural assets, including: Three Royal Tombs in Bae-ri (tombs of 3 Silla dynasty kings).

map of Mt. Namsan and the royal tombs

map of Mt. Namsan and the royal tombs

 Three Royal Tombs in Bae-ri

Three Royal Tombs in Bae-ri

Me, Anna and Seth at Three Royal Tombs in Bae-ri

Me, Anna and Seth at Three Royal Tombs in Bae-ri

Seth, Anna and Mr. Che in the forest surrounding the tombs

Seth, Anna and Mr. Che in the forest surrounding the tombs

the forest around the Royal Tombs

the forest around the Royal Tombs

We then went to see the Poseok-Jeong site, or the royal playground, which we found fascinating because of the story: During banquets in the last days of the Silla kingdom, the king’s official and noble guests would sit along the watercourse chatting and reciting poetry while cups of wine floated past. One participant would start a poem, or propose a subject for a poem, and would then choose another of the group to finish it.  A cup of wine was floated down the channel.  If the cup arrived at the chosen person after the poem was completed, all was fine.  If not, he had to drink the wine to the last drop.

Queen Cathy and Princess Anna at Poseok-Jeong

Queen Cathy and Princess Anna at Poseok-Jeong

the water course at Poseok-Jeong

the water course at Poseok-Jeong

Poseok-Jeong, the royal playground

Poseok-Jeong, the royal playground

After this, Mr. Che took us to Oreung Royal Tombs, 5 tombs holding four kings and one queen.

Me, Seth and Anna at Oreung Royal Tombs

Me, Seth and Anna at Oreung Royal Tombs

Oreung Royal Tombs

Oreung Royal Tombs

Anna and Seth at Oreung Royal Tombs

Anna and Seth at Oreung Royal Tombs

on the grounds of Oreung Royal Tombs

on the grounds of Oreung Royal Tombs

at Oreung Royal Tombs

at Oreung Royal Tombs

Anna at Oreung Royal Tombs

Anna at Oreung Royal Tombs

Anna and Seth in the doorway of a temple at Oreung Royal Tombs

Anna and Seth in the doorway of a temple at Oreung Royal Tombs

Finally, we explored the Gyeongju National Museum.  Gyeongju National Museum has a history of about 90 years. Representing Gyeongju, which used to be the capital of Silla (BC57~AD935), the museum showcases the cultural history of Gyeongju district. Gukeun Memorial Hall exhibits 666 artifacts, which are the personal collection of Dr. Lee Yang-Seon, donated to the museum for preservation purposes. Artifacts from the great tombs of Gyeongju are exhibited:  golden crowns, crown ornaments, belts, earrings etc. Approximately 30,000 artifacts were excavated from Anapji Pond. The other galleries exhibit household goods. These various types of items show life in the Royal Court during the Silla Period (Visit Korea: Gyeongju National Museum).

In the outdoor exhibit Area, on the museum grounds, we see King Seongdeok’s Bell.  It’s the most renowned of Buddhist temple bells.  Buddhist sculptures make up the majority of the stone artifacts.

a huge bell at Gyeonju National Museum

King Seongdeok’s Bell at Gyeongju National Museum

Gyeonju National Museum

Geongju National Museum

on the grounds of Gyeonju National Museum

on the grounds of Gyeongju National Museum

Anna and Seth inside Gyeonju National Museum

Anna and Seth inside Gyeongju National Museum

On the grounds of the museum, we see a Standing Stone image of Avalokitesvara, which seems to have been made during the 8th century during the Unified Silla period.

Standing Stone Image of Avalokitesvara at Gyeonju National Museum

Standing Stone Image of Avalokitesvara at Gyeongju National Museum

We also come across a Standing Stone Buddha image.  Both Buddha and his halo were carved from one large piece of granite and it seems to also be from the mid-8th century.

Standing Stone Buddha image at Gyeonju National Museum

Standing Stone Buddha image at Gyeongju National Museum

Mr. Che took off after that, and Anna, Seth and I walked to Anapji Pond, a lovely spot built during King Munmu’s reign to hold banquets celebrating joyous occasions of the country.  This place had such a pleasant ambiance, created in part by quiet Buddhist music playing over loudspeakers interspersed through the park.

Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

Anna and Seth at Anapji Pond

Anna and Seth at Anapji Pond

me at Anapji Pond

me at Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

We were craving a margarita after this long day of sightseeing, so we went in search of one, only to end up in a Flintstones-looking restaurant where the waiters were incredibly snooty and the prices were outrageous.  We ended up having a glass of wine and then heading back to our lovely Kolon Hotel.

A little Flintstones-looking restaurant on Bomun Lake

A little Flintstones-looking restaurant on Bomun Lake

 

Wednesday, May 12:  Today, all EPIK teachers in Gyeongsangbuk-do province met in Gyeongju for a co-teaching seminar.  My co-teacher, Coffee J, told me a month earlier to put it on my calendar; however, a couple of days before the seminar he informed me he had to attend a number of business meetings elsewhere on Thursday of the seminar.  So, I hitched a ride with Myrna’s co-teacher, Mr. Smith, and several other teachers from the Seongju English Village, and we were on our merry way.  Thursday of the seminar was booked with meetings between the native English teachers and their Korean co-teachers, but I was left to fend for myself as Coffee-J was a no-show.  Everyone else seemed pleased with their co-teacher interactions, while I attended makeshift meetings for “those with no co-teachers.”

Thursday evening I went out with Jarrod and Virginia (& of course their co-teachers) to stroll around Bomun Lake and drink some beer and soju at water’s edge.  It was quite pleasant but a little chilly, so we went into a bar with other EPIK teachers.  Jarrod and Virginia, who are incredibly kind and fun, left because their Korean co-teachers didn’t feel comfortable coming into the bar. But I stayed because it was too cold to continue hanging outside!!

Jarrod's co-teacher, me, Jarrod, Virginia at Bomun Lake

Jarrod’s co-teacher, me, Jarrod, Virginia at Bomun Lake

Times like these are when I feel more than a creeping suspicion that I don’t fit in!  The EPIK teachers were hanging out, playing drinking games, joking among themselves.  I felt totally on the outside, as I often do in these groups, since everyone is so much younger than me.  Cliquishness is pervasive.  So, I didn’t stay long, but took off to return back to the hotel alone.

Funny thing, this.  I have a lot of time to think about attitudes toward age here in Korea.  It’s always in my face that Koreans look at me as old; this is now unsurprising to me based on their culture; the fact that no matter how old they are, they dye their hair black in order to “look younger” (which they DON’T by the way); the fact that they are expected to treat their elders with deference.  Koreans will never hesitate to openly ask me my age.  Even my students ask me this all the time.  I have now started responding with random ages: I’ll say variously 25, 30, 35, 29, 39, 40, 50.  I have tried to fight this perception so much since I’ve been here.  But now, I’ve given up trying.  I now just accept that I will never truly fit in here because I refuse to succumb to their perceptions about age.  I am young at heart and I hope to be this until the day I die!!  So let them think me old.  I know I’m not and so will continue to live as I have always lived, exploring life, looking for adventure, laughing, sticking my neck out into the crazy world.

Of course, Koreans aren’t the only ones who view me as old.  Since I am here in Korea with mostly 20-35 year old Westerners, I encounter this among them as well.  But this varies with the person.  Some people (who I adore, btw) are age-blind.  Some are not.  That is the only way I can describe what I encounter.  If they are age-blind, they don’t look at my age, but they see me as a person.  And when they see me this way, and act as if my age doesn’t matter, then I open up to them and they can know me for the young person I really am inside!!  They can hear my crazy stories (of which I have aplenty), and they can tell me theirs, and we relate as friends.

Me with my boyfriend Paul at age 19.... I am STILL that person!

Me with my boyfriend Paul at age 19…. I am STILL that person!

As for the people who look at me and see “old,” then they miss out.  They miss out on enriching their lives by knowing someone different from them.  And in turn, I miss out on knowing them, which is sad.  What these people don’t see is that, wrapped up in the person that is me are all the ages I was once and now am.  I am Cathy: I am the 11-year-old who used to play horses in my backyard; I’m the 18-year-old who went streaking in Virginia Beach when “streaking” was in vogue; I’m the 24-year-old who took a 3-month vagabond trip around the USA in a van with two pugs and my new husband; I’m the 25-year-old who packed up everything and moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; I’m the 27-year-old who rafted down the Salmon River in Idaho for 7 days; I’m the 30-year-old who went through a divorce and then the 33-year-old who remarried and then had two kids.  I’m also the 50-some year old who went back to school and got a Master’s degree in International Commerce and Policy, who traveled to Egypt to study Arabic and who lived a number of hilarious stories in the process.  I have done as many or more crazy things in my lifetime than they have.  Yet, they sadly see me as someone they don’t want to know because I’m older!! Ahhh, such are the perils of age!!  Strange thing, though, this aging stuff.  All of us will age.  Those people who stare vacantly through me as if I don’t exist…. just a sweet reminder.  You WILL be here one day.  Either older or dead….LOL 🙂

Me at 24 in Yellowstone

Me at 24 in Yellowstone

It’s funny, soon after my good friend Ed from the State Department read this column, he sent me an email with a wise observation about the age issue.  He said, “i dont deny my age but i really have no idea how to be 54, and i dont want to be defined (or confined) by someone else’s idea about it.”  I LOVE this… Neither do I want to be defined ~ or confined ~ by anyone else’s idea about how I should be my age!!

Anyway, I left the bar where I felt quite invisible, and met my really young friends Anna and Seth, the married couple in their early 20s who seem blind to my age.  I met some of their friends, and all of us strolled pleasantly around the lake.  While walking, my phone rang and, lo and behold, it was Coffee J, who had finally arrived in Gyeongju for the seminar.  He said, “What are you doing?  Do you want to go out and have some drinks?”  I declined b/c I’d already been drinking enough.  I continued my walk and then went back to the hotel to relax.

 

Friday, April 16:  After our failed attempt to make it to Gyeongju on April 3, Kathy and I finally find our way there today.  We hope to ride the hot air balloon, which doesn’t really float about freely in the air, but is tethered to the ground.  However, neither of us has ever been on a hot air balloon, so we want to go even if we are anchored to earth.

the tethered hot air balloon at Gyeongju

the tethered hot air balloon at Gyeongju

me in front of the balloon

me in front of the balloon

up, up & away, without us!

up, up & away, without us!

We buy tickets and wait at a table in the shade until the time specified on our ticket.  We watch about 4-5 groups go up in the balloon.  Finally, it’s our turn…  but the wind starts gusting and they close the balloon for 10 minutes.  They then let us on the balloon and gale force winds whip the balloon about over our heads.  We are promptly escorted off the balloon.  Next, they shut it down for the rest of the day!!

Kathy and me

Kathy and me

So…. we eat a nice lunch by Bomun Lake, rent some dilapidated bicycles, and ride along the lake’s edge under the cherry blossoms.

Cherry blossoms on Bomun Lake

Cherry blossoms on Bomun Lake

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

lunchtime

lunchtime

Kathy at lunch

Kathy at lunch

me & my bicycle

me & my bicycle

tunnel of cherry blossoms

tunnel of cherry blossoms

Kathy at Bomun Lake

Kathy at Bomun Lake

Kathy & me at Bomun Lake

Kathy & me at Bomun Lake

We come to a big open square where small Korean children are driving motor-powered cars haphazardly around like maniacs.

maniac Korean children drivers

maniac Korean children drivers

too small to be driving!!

too small to be driving!!

wild little drivers

wild little drivers

he's on a mission

he’s on a mission

taking my life in my hands

taking my life in my hands

Finally, Kathy decides she wants to drive an All-Terrain-Vehicle around a motor-course.  She dons a helmet and off she goes.

Kathy, all helmeted up and ready to go

Kathy, all helmeted up and ready to go

Kathy on her ATV

Kathy on her ATV

Kathy takes the ATV course by storm

Kathy takes the ATV course by storm

Finally we part ways with Bomun Lake and its little line of swan paddle boats.  We head back to Daegu for the rest of the weekend.

swan paddle boats on Bomun Lake

swan paddle boats on Bomun Lake

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