Reunion Among the Ancients


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Asia » South Korea » Gyeongsangbuk-do » Gyeongju
October 3rd 2006
Published: October 27th 2006
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(I'm sorry it's taken me so long to write. There's just been so much adventuring, I've fallen behind. With the next few posts, I hope to catch up!)

When we last left our heroine, she was preparing to go to Gyeongju (ancient seat of the Silla Dynasty-- which began around 600 A.D. and was one of the most artistically advanced dynasties) for a Fulbright conference. That means, the 64 plus Fulbright ETAs scattered across the country would gather together once more to sup and celebrate, to discuss our trials and triumphs, and ultimately, to speak English to fluent English speakers for a straight 3-4 days.

Gosh, it was heaven.

I had not realized how much I missed speaking with native speakers at native speaker pace without linguistic misunderstandings. I was kind of wary of the reunion at first--I was just getting the hang of living the foreign life and would suddenly be thrust among my own people again to sink or swim or readapt to my American-ness-- but it ended up being great and just what I needed. So many of my friends and colleagues were encountering the same troubles, the same humorous situations and reactions, the same
Emille BelleEmille BelleEmille Belle

Okay, the legend is something like this, though I'm just going from memori: legend says that this bell, cast way back in the day, was cast after many failed attempts at making abell. After the first two tries failed, it was decided that the fire gods were against them and that they needed to please the fire gods in order to make a beautiful bell that rings. So, a young girl was sacrificed in the fire (or molten whatever) as the bell was made, and the bell, when finished, rang. But, some say that when the bell rings it still sounds like a child's cry... Again, that's Alexis's retelling of a retold tale, so...
challenges in class. It was great to vent to one another, enjoy each others' company, and explore a new region of Korea.

So, much of the time was spent socializing and hanging out, such as walking around the resort area where we stayed, hanging out in front of the local Family Mart (they have picnic tables outside the convenience stores here where people can sit, eat, drink, etc. for cheap), riding mini 4-wheelers and mini-motorbikes, eating out, and just having a great time in general. And there was also the conference part-- a whole day of speakers, workshops, sharing, brainstorming, venting, etc.-- very productive

Then, of course, we had one whole day of sightseeing around Gyeongju-- which only gave us a taste of the place, really. There is so much history there, it's amazing and impossible to see everything. Here are some of the things we saw:

--A museum or two with ancient artifacts from the Silla dynasty (much gold and intricate carvings and such)
--The Emille Bell (a famous, huge bell supposedly cast during or near the Silla dynasty (maybe?) that has an interesting legend behind it-- ask me if you want to know. It has
Royal tombsRoyal tombsRoyal tombs

Tumuli Park. They say the double ones potentially represent a kind and queen.
to do with child sacrifice and the bell sounding like a girl's call... creepy)
--A potter's workshop and kiln (reproducing Silla-style pottery)
--Seokguram Grotto (beautiful carved Buddha set back in stone and near a mountaintop)
--Bulguksa (one of the largest temples in Korea)
--Tumuli Park (a huge park with many mound-style tombs-- presumably of kings and queens. In the tombs, archaeologists have excavated loads of treasures and artifacts, and many remain undisturbed)
--Anapji Pond (recreated to mirror its original splendor, Anapji Pond was the playground of royalty-- a beautiful getaway that was supposed to be their utopia)

I think that's about it. It was a long day of touring but very fun. There was still more to see, but maybe I'll just go back someday.


Additional photos below
Photos: 28, Displayed: 24


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Ancient ObservatoryAncient Observatory
Ancient Observatory

Supposedly one of the oldest in Asia, this observatory was used to--you guessed it-- watch stars.
Bulguksa TempleBulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple

Prayer stones (From what I learned, at temples and other certain places, Buddhists sometimes pile stones to represent their prayers)
Royal tombsRoyal tombs
Royal tombs

They dot the landscape throughout Gyeongju, though many are kept inside special parks, etc.
Royal tombsRoyal tombs
Royal tombs

Tumuli Park
A traditional kilnA traditional kiln
A traditional kiln

Used for casting Silla-style pottery today
At a traditional dance showAt a traditional dance show
At a traditional dance show

Traditional Silla dancing
At a traditional dance showAt a traditional dance show
At a traditional dance show

Traditional Silla dancing
At a traditional dance showAt a traditional dance show
At a traditional dance show

Traditional Silla dancing
At a traditional dance showAt a traditional dance show
At a traditional dance show

Traditional Silla dancing


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