Gyeongju and Bulguksa Temple

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December 30th 2012
Published: January 29th 2013
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I needed a trip out of Busan to relieve the cabin fever that had set in during December, so Deborah came with me one cold Saturday on a day trip to the small city of Gyeongju. We had the incredibly comfy bus again with the seats that almost recline into a bed.

It looked like a very pretty town indeed, most buildings had traditional Korean roofs, even petrol stations! One thing we weren't prepared for though was the bitter cold - the wind cut right through us! Should remember that's it's always warmer in Busan! We hopped on a bus that would take us to Bulguksa (temple) - one of the main attractions of the area and one that was mentioned in my 5th graders English book - "Gyeongju has Bulguksa. Bulguksa has two towers. What a beautiful temple!". What weird English! Anyway it proved to be a long long way out of town and halfway up a mountain in a beautiful setting. Snow and ice lay everywhere, the small rivers and lake were frozen over - a proper winter wonderland. We passed through a gate overlooked by four big guardian gods and continued onto the main buildings.

Bulguksa is a Silla era Buddhist temple completed in 774AD. Like most Korean temples, it was damaged during the Japanese occupation and only recently restored in the last 40 years. It is one of the more famous temples in Korea and considered a national treasure, or at least housing national treasures! As mentioned in my 5th graders' books, there are two famous padogas - Dabotap and Seokgatap. These tiered towers have a religious significance but I'm not sure what! We didn't spend too much time looking at them, we mostly wandered around admiring the complex and poking our heads in the doors. It was beautiful, and especially in the snow - but I feel a bit templed out, especially as most of them seem so similar to me. Next time I'll have to do a temple stay to understand more about Buddhism and the structure and layout of the temples.

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