Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gyeongju Spring Flowers

Scenic bridge in Gyeongju on the perilous drive up to Seokguram.

Although you'd never know it from the weather this week, spring has arrived in Korea. Spring means lots of flowers, especially the numerous 벚꽃--cherry blossoms (many originally planted during Japanese imperialism as a way to demoralize and imperialize Korea, which have thankfully lost much of their negative associations for young Koreans). Last weekend, Min Gi and I drove out to Gyeongju to visit our friend Hayoung, partake of the spring flowers, and finally see Seokguram one of the most famous historic pieces of Buddhist art in all of Korea that I have managed to fail to see on each of my many trips to Gyeongju.

Min Gi in front of the grotto that houses the stone buddha of Seokguram.

Seokguram, along with Bulguksa, make up one of Gyeongju's two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Although it is only a few kilometers from the temple I've visited many times, I've never actually made it out there. Carved in the late 700s, the stone statue in the cave is quite stunning and well-preserved, although it is behind glass and photos are not permitted. The winding path up the mountain was terrifying in Min Gi's old Korando, but the walk to and from the grotto was peaceful and natural.

We even observed this guy, a woodpecker (딱다구리).

We had a traditional Korean lunch with our friend Hayoung, who was one of the announcers at our wedding. We then had some coffee in a small park near his apartment.

And I revert to my five year old self.


Finally, Min Gi and I battled the intense traffic of every other Korean person in Gyeongsangbuk-do who wanted to see the cherry blossoms near Beomun Lake resort and took two hours to drive less than five kilometers.

But the peaceful afternoon views were worth the crowds.

Gyeongju Spring Flowers

6 comments:

  1. Beautiful!

    We went to 불국사 and 석굴암! That was in the fall. It would be lovely to go in spring.

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  2. Now that I think of it, actually it was in June.

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  3. It's neat looking at your cherry blossom pictures after just visiting the ones in DC!

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  4. Helena,

    I have been to Gyeongju all four seasons--it's been stunning every single time. I love that Daegu is so close by to such a beautiful and historical place.

    Patchie,

    Every year the cherry blossoms make me homesick for DC. Your photos inspired me to go out and actually enjoy them instead of mope about it at home... haha!

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  5. I'm glad I helped, then! Haha

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  6. And I do for you, too, Diana!!! I'll be watching your site with interest as we both embark on new chapters cheese cheese. There's got to be a better way to say this, so let me just nerd-out for a bit and tell you what a total fan I am. Check you out: coming to Korea and working over at that place and then over at another place and (from The Color Purple) "You'se MARRIED NOW!" and just - way to go!!! All the times that the lovely Gwen offered me a job - I should have taken her up on it not only because it would surely be great to work there, but also that I think you and I would be great friends, and that's something I've been lacking here. But just a little gush more -- I just think you're awesome!!! I'd go on and on - but I'm three minutes late for class. Thanks for all your support. SO much appreciated.

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