Bike riding in Gyeongju is one of my favorite places in Korea. Last time I went it was spring and, while it was still beautiful, the flowers and plants hadn’t really grown. My mum and I headed out there on Monday for a day of bike riding and the place was much more vibrant – and hot. Much, much hotter!
We biked for awhile through the park and past all the lotus flowers. The whole thing was unbelievable pretty. But it came at a price, I have never sweated so much in my life! Seriously my back was drenched and I felt disgusting, luckily we did find a stream to dip in our feet which helped a little.
The day was wonderful and we headed back exhausted and ready for bed. The next day was spent just relaxing as all the hiking and bike riding had gotten to us – plus it is vacation! We didn’t do much at all but that was okay because the next day we headed out to Seoul.
I do like Seoul, but in small douses. In summer it is overcrowded and hot which can take some getting used to if you are from somewhere small like NZ. I managed to find us a hotel in Myeongdong which is so close to the major tourist places, making it much easier! We arrived, checked in and walked around the shopping area for awhile before heading to a bibimbap restaurant for my favorite meal.
Myeongdong area has Gogung, which serves traditional Jeonju style bibimbap in a beautiful setting. There was even a girl dresses in Hanbok playing a Korean instrument which I wish I knew the name of. The meal usually comes with beef but I asked the waitress to leave it out which she was happy to do. She even came back with the side dishes and told me that they had no meat in them at all (although the kimchi probably still had some sort of fish in it). The meal was delicious, if you are ever in Myeongdong it is easy enough to find. From the main shopping street just walk straight and take the first right – where the Uniqlo is. Keep walking for a couple of minutes and the restaurant is on the left. It stands out for the big statue of bibimbap sitting outside it.
While leaving the restaurant I spied the sign for a 3D trick art museum, something I have been wanting to see for years but never been able to find. It was in the same building as Gogung, but you do need to find the elevators at the back. For 13,000won I found this expensive but the whole thing was really fun and totally worth it.
I was exhausted after the day, but still managed to stay up until 1am watching the Golden Girls… This morning was another long one as we headed out to the Palace.
This was my third visit so I found it hard to get too excited. The fact that is was nearly 40 degrees didn’t help the situation. We walked around for an hour before I could take no more and suggested Insadong Road for souvenirs and traditional tea.
Iced Cinnamon tea with rice cake, bliss.
I also found a much smaller temple – jogyesa – which runs parallel to Insadong street. It is always surprising to see the epic city that is Seoul and then find a traditional temple hiding amongst the big buildings and all the people. We had a look this afternoon…
Then found ourselves in the area later that evening when it was all lit up.
So an insanely busy few days. I am so tired and getting frustrated with the crowds and subwaying everywhere, but at the same time I am reminding myself how lucky I am to be here. Not just in Korea but with my mum who I haven’t seen in 16 months, and who has never experienced a place like this. I better go and sleep, still four more days of this craziness!