Warning: This is another boring entry about a boring city. Perhaps it's not a boring city. Maybe I was just homesick and lonely so that has clouded my judgement. Nobody else checked in to Santa's Guesthouse. It would have been nice to have someone to talk to.
The sites to visit today are a bit far from the hostel and I can’t walk going there. I went to the tourist office and I was given the option to either bike or take the bus. I was too tired to bike and get lost so I decided to take the bus. I also considered just buying a bus tour if its cheap enough. Turns out it costs 20,000 won and if I take the bus it would only set me back 6,000 won. I’d rather risk getting lost in the city than spend that much more money for a bus tour. I got on the bus and saw an American couple. They were looking at the map so I though I was on the right bus. Problem is they were not sure either and said they’d follow me. The old man kept assuming that we were there already when he sees
a touristy place but the locals on the bus kept telling him no. I didn’t feel lost because they looked more lost. The Chinese tourists got off the wrong stop but the locals on the bus did not stop them.
The sign in front of the Bulguksa temple is written in Korean. There was no Romanized version. Which I liked because it felt more authentic. The one thing I liked about Bulguksa is that I recognized it from some of the Korean movies and TV series that I’ve watched. Yes it’s old and historic but recently I discovered that I don’t really care all that much. I thought I did. History was one of my favorite subjects growing up and I love to read. But historical places need to be grand to be worth a visit for me. Bulguksa looks like a smaller version of the Forbidden city in Beijing. Which I also didn’t like as much as I wanted to like it. Maybe because I’ve already seen a lot of Buddhist temples in the Philippines and in Thailand? They start to look all the same. Not that I didn’t like Bulguksa. I did. But it was just the
usual pretty temple now. More quaint than the Forbidden Palace because it’s smaller and on a hill. I don't really have a lot of good things to say. Maybe because I thought it was boring. I should have gone to a ski resort instead. But then again how can you not see one of the highlights of a city that you're visiting? I think if you stop caring about what people will say when you get back from your vacation without visiting major sites then this won't be a problem. "I wanted to see snow so that's what I did. No I did not visit boring museums and historical buildings"
I saw a sun burnt backpacker who was comparing a road sign with her LP. I asked if that’s the way to Seokguram and she said she believed so because the writing looks like the writing on LP for Seokguram. I wanted to hike too but I didn’t want to get too tired for the next day. I explored the temple a bit more to make the most out of my money then I bussed to Seokguram instead. Canadian kids use the word “bus” as a verb. One of
the few new words in my vocabulary. I’m sure it’s grammatically incorrect but it sounds cool so I will now be using it. Like “wires” for earphones.
As the bus drove to the top of the mountain for Seokguram I realized how glad I was for having decided to bus instead of walk. It’s a long way up the mountain which people said is only a 20-45 minutes walk. It looked like a two hour hike to me.
I liked reading encyclopedias when I was young. I was a nerdy kid. Seokguram is the one place in Korea that I was most excited to see because I know it from my encyclopedia. It’s a grotto that was carved out of a single rock. Like how they did Petra! It’s considered one of the finest Korean art. It did not disappoint. It was truly magnificent and perfect! There was nobody there who looked at the grotto longer than I did. That is art for me. The paintings and the temples failed to impress but this one did not. I know I like art but now I’m not sure what kind of art I appreciate. Taking photos was not allowed
but that did not stop some people. On my way down the mountain an old Korean lady kept talking to me on the bus (in Korean) even though she knew perfectly well that I couldn't understand her. Then she gave me candies. I looked at my phrase book so I can say thank you because that deserved a big thank you. I discovered that it's nice to have someone talk to you even if you don't understand a thing that they're saying.
It was still early after seeing Bulguksa and Seokguram. I didn’t want to go to the museum but there was nothing left to do. Reluctantly, I went. I’m glad I did because it turns out that it’s free! Not only was it free, it was totally worth the trip. They have a lot of cool things on display. Lots of kids are on field trip in the museum. They practiced their English on me by saying “Hi, nice to meet you!”
One of the teachers started clearing her throat to let me know that I've been staring at a display too long and that I need to move so her kids can walk past it. None
of the kids had time to read the descriptions under the exhibits. They just walk past everything. Not that I think eight year olds would be interested to read those. So I guess that's fine that they're only given a few seconds to see the items on display. I remember being eight when antiques were just rubbish.
They have a lot of gold that they found in the tumulis. I loved the gold collection because they are real treasures that are worth something. Crowns, hats and jewellery. I appreciate things that are not only pretty but also have monetary value. Aside from the gold there were also the usual jars and stone sculptures that they took from the temples in Mt. Namsan. The swords and other military equipment were cool. Overall another boring day.
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