Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gyeongju/Goodbye, 카메라

This past weekend, I went on a trip to Gyeongju, located on the Southeastern coast of Korea.


Gyeongju is the Korean/East Asian equivalent of Rome--it was the capital of the ancient Silla empire, which Wikipedia tells me was in power from 57 BC to 935 AD (about the same time Julius Caesar was doing his thing in Italy). Referred to breathlessly by my Lonely Planet guidebook as "The Museum Without Walls," I expected nothing short of a raucous time in Gyeongju, looking at Really Old Stuff. Seriously though, Koreans are majorly proud of their history--I couldn't not go to what is essentially their Kyoto (i.e., cultural capital).

So my friends Breda, Katherine and I bussed out on Saturday morning for a whirlwind tour. We stayed in a 여관 or yugwan, a Korean-style motel which is basically just a room with a bunch of blankets on the floor.

On Saturday, we walked around and saw this astronomical observatory, reputedly the most famous one in East Asia. Though it might look simple, don't be deceived! The tower was precisely constructed to have 366 blocks, representing the days of the Lunar Year (they counted things differently back then)...the base has twelve blocks to represent the months of the year. Pretty cool, no?

We also saw some huge Korean-style tombs. When I first saw these on Jeju, I thought they were just graves. But no! Apparently there's buttloads of stuff in these things--mummies, offerings, ect. Egyptian style.

A tad more graceful than those old sand-covered things in Africa, eh?

Then we went to the National Museum, reputedly the biggest/best one in Korea. There was lots of pretty Old Stuff to look at.

We went to dinner post-museum. We had Ssambap--rice served with a ton of side dishes, famous in Gyeongju:

As we were sitting down to eat, pre-dinner, I had a horrifying revelation. Somewhere between the Museum, the Bus Terminal (where we had stopped to buy tickets home) and the restaurant, I LOST MY CAMERA.


Frankly, I really don't want to rehash everything I did/am doing to attempt to recover my camera. I feel a little sick just thinking about it. I really, really like/liked my camera (a Canon PowerShot SD 1100). I took over 3,000 pictures with it...fortunately, I had backed up all of my photos on to my laptop before I had left, so I didn't lose any pictures except for the ones I took while I was in Gyeongju, of course. The ones in this post were taken by Breda and Katherine (thanks, ladies...you both are good photo-takers, fortunately enough).

That's all I want to say about that for now.

So the next morning we woke up late and went to Bulguksa, arguably the most famous temple in Korea.

Korea numbers all of its important artifacts/treasures--this pagoda is Number 30, I think. Korea also numbers it's Intangible Cultural Properties (!?)

We then took a bus up to Seokguram grotto, where we saw a very famous Buddah statue. No pictures were allowed to be taken of the statue; here's one I found on the Internet:

High up above the city, you could see the Sea of Japan/Korea off in the distance.

We had to walk to get there. Can you spot my blue coat?

Despite my camera drama, a fun trip. Surely there is some moral to be drawn from this, ie, people/experiences are more important than possessions. BUT OH GOD I MISS MY CAMERA, WAH! Please feel sorry for me.

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