Monday, December 12, 2011

Gyeongju. Another small escape.

Every so often we make weekend excursions happen. We need escape from the city. The honking. The shoulder-to-shoulderness. The neon lights. The man upstairs who sings at the top of his lungs all day and night. We have made some great friends here and two of them happen to be great trip planners. So, we piggy-backed onto a Sunday trip they had planned to Gyeongju (경주). The plan was to see burial mounds, bike around and get lost in the countryside, end up at Anapji (아납지) pond. Aren't they good planners?! 

We took the 2 hour train ride up, and since all of the seats had be sold we made a cozy foreigners-only nook in the last train car. There was a tiny window in the separating door that gave us the perspective of zoo animals, as there was a queue of Koreans outside of the door waiting to get a peek at the wild western people. A nice old lady even slid open the door long enough to toss some food at us. Boiled eggs and roasted chestnuts. Kamsabnida. 
Can you see the bottom of our viewing window?

We brought our bikes but rentals
were abundant and cheap.
Kent's old student, Sally, who he keeps
running into in the dangdest places.
Our first destination was some of the burial mounds of old Silla Dynasty kings. One of the times the entire Korean peninsula was peacefully unified was during the Silla dynasty and Gyeongju was the capital of it all... just a mere 1900 years ago! It's always a healhy revelation traveling in parts of the world that have deeply rooted and written histories. A kindergarden student said it best, when I compare the Korean people's history to the couple hundred years the US has under its belt "Teacher. MY HEAD IS POPPED." It's a little too much to think about. 

On our 2 wheeled adventures we got lost in millions of intersecting paths running through rice fields. We even ended up roaming around a small grouping of homes with cows and cow smells and when I squinted it all looked (and smelled) like Wisconsin. Being on bikes, with friends, in fields... it was awesome. 

We stopped for a bite at homemade tofu and pajeon restaurant and then headed to Anapji for the lit-up palace show. Anapji is currently being reconstructed. It was a getaway palace built in 900 AD or so. Holy smokes. 

It was a fantastic all-day-play-day that reminded me, again, what it's like to be an explorer. I'm more than a teacher... although most of the time I AM a teacher. I have to keep reminding myself that I am other things too. Thank you Courtney and Joe for the mini-adventure!

Food Stop