Day 30-32 [22-24 July 2011] 3D2N Gyeongju + Pohang

And so~ we managed to get the free bus tickets provided by KTO. Promotion ending Dec 2011, but may be extended I think. (Free shuttle bus has ended in 2013)

http://english.visitkoreayear.com/english/benefit/benefit_07_01_01.asp

All you have to do is to fill up the form and wait to see if you get the tickets ^_^ The tickets are worth like 20,000~30,000W per way because the bus that you take is the premium bus, 3-seater per row and you can push your chair all the way down and lie super comfortably throughout the journey.

There’s 3 locations for their shuttle. (A) Jeonju (B) Gyeongju (C) Busan

Busan’s the most popular choice.. what my friend did was to get the gyeongju tickets, and travel to Busan from Gyeongju (1 hour away). But for me, I was gonna do a 3d2n in Gyeongju and Pohang ( a destination I saw in lonely planet which we just decided to whack but it turned out to be really great)

And so the day started with me over-sleeping. I heard my alarm and accidentally pressed it off and went back to sleep and this is something that only happens to me with a 0.1% probability. I’m usually the type who wakes up immediately when the alarm rings and if it’s an important day or there are stuff to be done, I will get out of bed immediately. I didn’t know what went wrong that morning but we ended up cabbing down to the place we had to take the bus. It was at gwanghwamen station.

We were so terrified. KOREANS ARE EXTREMELY ON TIME. we were really afraid we couldn’t reach them in time. But then again, we reached at like 7:50am if i didn’t remember wrongly. We met 2 of our fellow exchange students. 1 was going to busan and the other was going to gyeongju. Both lone travelers. Really brave.

PLEASE PRINT OUT THE TICKET and produce your passport when ‘registering’. They are really strict with the administrations.. I guess it’s in their culture.

Well, it’s a pity that the bus was not filled. Probably slightly more than half. Kind of irresponsible of those people who applied for it and not turn out. Seats are like perishable goods.

Yep, and the BUS LEFT EXACTLY AT 8AM. the thing was the in-charge was trying to look around to see if there’s anyone on the way since the turnout was so poor but the bus driver was being damn fierce and talking very loudly and the bus left slightly after 8, like maybe 8:01 or 8:02.

The bus ride was 3.5~4 hours long.

Stop over at a rest-stop and i bought lotteria~! first time eating it.. it was okay i guess.

** Reached Gyoengju. They alighted us at some hotel place.. Since I did not google beforehand, we ended up cabbing to the bus terminal. We kind of got ripped off the taxi fare. can’t remember but it was expensive. argh.

So we reached the bus terminal and then we decide to set off th Bulguk-sa Temple. According to the directions in lonely planet, Bus 10/11 and it’s quite a long ride. maybe 20-30 mins  before reaching. anyway, the bus stops have names in english.. so you can always keep a look out. they will always say < previous stop – current stop – next stop> something like that.. but then again, usually the whole crowed just alights at the temple stop. or u can ask the bus driver to double check.

When we alighted, we just follow the people in front of us. There’s a tourist information centre if you need help.

This temple is a UNESCO Protected Treasure and there’s a couple of national treasures within the temple.. Gyeongju is famous for their pagodas. (The truth is it looked so normal to me that i didn’t even realise when I walked past it =/)

Ticket was 4,000W~ Gyeongju is one of the rare places in korea with entrance tickets. haha. usually it’s free..

The temple compound was really big and majestic!

This was one of their national treasure – dabotap if i’m not wrong.

Really steep stairs~

This looks a little unrestored =p

The english translation is kind of cute. no-word-hall. why not name in silence hall or something. ahha.

Another national treasure~

This place is rather cute.. people were building their own pagodas.. apparently you can make a wish as you stack up the stones. one wish per stone? hmm. but it was so crowded and we had difficulty finding space to pile our own pagoda.

This was ours!

It’s quite a pretty place~ Maybe an hour or more to complete the place.

After that we left the place and decided to grab some food nearby~

This is one of their speciality ~ gyeongju bbang (bread) it’s with red bean paste if i’m not wrong. It’s okay.. but not nice enough for me to buy a box back. heh.

Not forgetting my all time favourite.. ICE CREAM. heh.

By the way, we were passing time as we were waiting for bus 12 which will break us to Seokguram Grotto. You have to check with the tourist information for the bus timing.. so you won’t waste time waiting. Anyway, the grotto is actually walkable from the temple but we were lazy to walk uphill. Bear in mind that we had 3D2N worth of stuff in our bags.. I did leave my polaroid back in hostel this time round. Would have died with it around =/

So the bus came, and we went up. BTW, their transportation card is called BART, with the B sign and we thought that our t-money card wouldn’t work so we paid cash. 1000W per trip.. HOWEVER, apparently the Tmoney card works with the system. Our friend told us that on our return journey home. we could have save 100W per way.. oh wells!!!

The bus was about 15 mins uphill. Really steep roads and I was like Thank God we didn’t walk up =/

It’s really pretty up there, but kind of misty because of the damp weather. I think it drizzled a little.

And it’s another 4000W for admission fees.. I guess places with UNESCO World Heritage listing.. will have to pay.. ha. and no, i didn’t get to see this sunset.

Alright, I didn’t do much research about this place, Seokguram Grotto, beforehand so I didn’t know what to expect. and.. it was this majestic buddha sculpture up in the mountains.

This was the outside of the sculpture

Image taken from wiki because no photography was allowed.

Seokguram Buddha.JPG

Yep.. so that was it~ but the walk there was great. Spring water to drink.

There were chipmunks along the way.

And so.. we saw the sign down to the temple.. 2.2km. It was good weather and we could save 1000W and we did not have to squeeze the bus back (usually there’s a long queue as the frequency is poor). Yep, so we set foot on our walk down.

Conclusion: wear good shoes.. The terrain can be kind of muddy and I slipped a lot of times! I didn’t fall though, luckily. But I guess the drizzle made it muddy and my grip-less asics made my heart jump everytime i slipped =/

We kind of took a really long time to get down =/ But I would recommend walking~ It’s a good breath of nature with all that forest air around you~~ breathe in breathe out!

So we were back at the bus stop, took bus number 10/11 which brought us back to the bus terminal we came from right from the start..

And i’m not sure when the decision to go to Pohang came about but we ended buying tickets to Pohang~ Bought food from the stores over there. I think it was 2000W for 2 sticks.

The funny thing was that we were the only passengers in the bus.. this shows how isolated pohang was =p The ride was slightly less than an hour.

Using lonely planet, we managed to catch a bus to the beach area, Bukbu beach. Sorry I can’t update the exact bus details because my lonely planet is with my friend at the moment.

Upon reaching there, we started sourcing for motels~ Prices ranged from 30~50,000W and eventually we settled on a very cheap motel (can’t remember the name), but the person was like quoting us 30,000W which was the lowest rate. She also offered us a sea-view.. so we took up the offer immediately. The  motel didn’t look too nice from the outside but the room was decent, with clean toilets but sleazy picture and lights. HA. they have this UV light thing which makes the room really cool.. you know.. most probably a love motel but it was a good stay.

After throwing our bags in the motel room, we went down for dinner and we decided to eat seafood since we didn’t really have a proper meal the whole day. we dined at the first place we saw, a rather huge restaurant. Sat outside to enjoy the super windy breeze. There was a TV and it was playing music performances by kpop artistes. LOL.

The seafood cost 30,000W, the same price we paid for our room. HAHAHA. but it was okay only. some really weird seafood which I have never tasted. We kind of regretted not getting those charcoal grilled stuff which every other table was having. argh. haha. my love for sashimi.

After dinner, we went to walk along the beach~ Seeing people lighting up fireworks~ the awesome breeze~ felt really relaxing!

I ended up playing their traditional game? I think. Well, I was watching Hello Ghost on the plane.. so i was wondering what’s the big sugar-y thingy about.. So there was this game to win them. I think I paid 1,000W. He gave me some blocks to cover up the grid. Then, you will have to pick out a paper from the whole bunch. If the name on the paper, is covered up by your blocks on the grid, you win the price, as stated. So.. I won this knife!

I ate it the next morning and it took me forever to finish it.

And so, i decided to set my alarm at 330am in order to wake up for sunrise.. however.. I didn’t manage to catch sunrise at all? I’m not sure.. either it’s too misty or you can’t see the sunrise.. I always thought as long as the beaches face the east, you should be able to see it..

But nevertheless, the sea-view from this sleazy motel room was so worthwhile.

I started the battle with my knife. I was so bent on finishing the whole thing. It’s really just hard candy which you have to lick or bite off.

Still pretty in the day~

Fireworks we could have bought last night.

Well, we had breakfast at family mart and then proceeded with the public transport to Homigot, lighthouse museum. Had to take 2 buses there BUT we kind of got lost as we stopped at the wrong stop.

lonely planet said to stop at the last stop which was supposedly a terminal, but that was actually the 2nd last stop when we were there.. so we got off at the last stop (wrong) and asked for directions and waited at the bus stop hoping that another bus comes by.. and finally we decided to take a cab there.

guess what, the bus which was supposedly going to bring us to Homigot, direction to Daepo, has no BUS NUMBER! lonely planet didn’t mention anything about the bus number and there was really no bus number for that bus. really weird isn’t it? but well, we got there anyway eventually.

The place is pretty, with the iconic palm. According to lonely planet, it’s the place where many people go on 1st Jan to catch the earliest sun rise in the whole of mainland Korea. I mean, of course Ulleungdo would see it first. hahaha. But it wasn’t crowded when we were there~

The focus of this picture is the seagulls on the fingers.

Me and my palm shots. ha.

This was the lighthouse.. which was no longer in operation. it has a long history though~ really really really really long. we went inside the museum okay. it was free.

 

They had to have the other palm. signifying the palms of unification.   haha. okay i think i’m crapping.

A really huge ring.

It was windy as usual and really pretty. Had street snacks there~ The waffle was gross and expensive. 2000W for cold and un-crispy waffle. =( But the view was superb!

We visited the tourism information place again, and managed to get the timing for the un-numbered bus back.

And I had to see a couple there with a polaroid camera. It would have been so nice to capture the place on polaroid.. =(

This was the image we were supposed to see if we came at sun rise.

Went up this building.. the Tourist information counter is inside too.

View from the top! ain’t it pretty?

This windmill.. doesn’t move?

Inside the lighthouse museum~

The lighthouse at close shot.

More street snacks~

I really love windmils~ ever since bai se feng che by jay~

Well, so at the timing, the un-numbered bus really came. It really did not have any digit at all. Just some hangul words~

We took the bus back, and stopped at the supposed terminal, then took another bus back to the bus terminal for our return journey back to Gyeongju.

And.. we had to see WGM at the train station.. BUT, I’M PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THAT WGM HAS OFFICIALLY ENDED. heh. khundepent day~

His eyes can barely open.. signs to show that he is tired and that he should stop filming this show.

** Bus from Pohang back to Gyeongju **

and so when we reached gyeongju, we were stranded again, looking for a place to stay. I did this whole trip with minimal planning and complete trust on lonely planet. haha. usually i’m a traveler who would plan everything beforehand, securing hotels and transport timings and everything.. but i just wanted to try things the other way~ turns out to be really exciting and worrying at times. (Like how much I got cheated on transport just for this 3D2N)

The motels around the bus terminal were quite expensive. ranging from 45~60,000W.. so we tried our luck, called this recommended hanok stay, sarangchae. and.. MADE A PHONE RESERVATION FOR THE ONE LAST ROOM FOR US.

http://www.kjstay.com/content_eng/iboard.cgi

It was 30,000W w/bathroom and about 15~20mins walk from the bus terminal. It’s kind of beside King’s Tomb.. kind of dark when we walked there but oh wells~ there’s nothing to be afraid when i’m around. me and my ego. ah.

We decided to go to this really crowded restaurant nearby. it was like totally packed and we had to wait to be served..

and we tried their traditional meal~

The truth is I had difficulty finishing the food because there were a lot of (weird) vegetables =/

But I had cider to.. smoothed out the horrible taste. I think we didn’t drink makkoli that night. can’t remember why. hmm.

Anyway, the best part was that this place had wifi and I slept late. HAHAHAHA. I was watching secret garden that night.

Well, here’s what the place look like~ I don’t usually have the habit of taking photos of hotel rooms.. due to superstitious reasons but then again this was a hanok stay~ so i snapped a picture.

We cooked breakfast in the kitchen, just eggs and bread with tea.

What the place looks like~

Then we went to our first stop, the Tombs beside the place we stayed. We had to walk a really big round to get to the main entrance.

1000W for entry if i’m not wrong.

Well, I was expecting a little too much from this tomb.. I thought that it would have resembled the pyramids in Egypt whereby there’s majestic artifacts to be seen or stuff like that.. but I was kind of disappointed. Seems like they only dug out one tomb and left the rest untouched. hmm.

  

This was the open tomb..

And inside, they tell you that the body and the whole casket thingy was a replica.. hmm.

After that, it was ice cream time~ this was popping candy flavoured! but it was for 2,000W.

Anyway, the attractions in gyeongju are all within walking distance. So we just walked here and there. and we didn’t have a map. LOL.

There was the UNESCO thing again..

This is an interesting structure in the middle of no where which got a lot of attention as it was astrological-related.

Won’t really get lost~ there’s this..

Pretty, pretty!

 

Though, I think the lotus pond in jeonju was prettier. this was not bad too.

Some filming spot for a drama?

We proceeded to Anapji Pond (1,000W entry)

This was really an interesting place because I can never understand if what I inferred from the english is correct. If i’m not wrong, it’s a pleasure garden and that buildings burned in 935 and relics ended up in the pond. Rediscovered only in 1975. Whole place was reconstructed, and it is still in the process. (I got this from lonely planet)

In my interpretation, it means that this whole place was actually empty and that everything they built is replicas from the past, using knowledge of what they have dug out from the pond? gosh i’m so confused!

Does it mean that if I go back 10 years later,all the buildings would have been restored and I will see a proper ‘palace’ or some sort? Currently, they only managed to build 2 structures up.

and everything else was just green grass?

Kind of puzzling in a way.

We didn’t stay long since I was quite confused over the historical facts of this pond..

** Could have rush to cover another attraction, the museum, but we decided to just play safe and get back to the hotel whereby we board the bus, remembering that their bus drivers are very precise with bus timings **

However, to our surprise, the bus was late and we were actually worried that we might have missed the bus or were waiting at the wrong location??

We saw 2 other fellow exchange-rs too! they came here for a day trip.. meaning they spent 4 hours in gyeongju and probably covered the same attractions..

the lone traveler was even more amazing. she traveled both busan and gyeongju and even covered more attractions than us in gyeongju! gosh~~ but we were planning to have a chill-ax travel anyway.

Food at rest stop~

** Gyeongju to Seoul **

Reaching Gwahwamen, took the metro back to school. grabbed kimbab at the metro station~

It was a.. really fulfilling 3d2n trip. Done with very very minimal planning. Something that usually ain’t my style.

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