[Korea 2012] Day 1: Gyeongju Downtown

Annyeonghaseyo yorobun ^_^
18th October 2012
Long journey from Kuching – Kuala Lumpur – Incheon – Seoul – Gyeongju.
~~ Read my previous travelogue:
Taking one of the bus from Singyeongju Station, I finally arrived at Gyeongju downtown around 3.15pm. Bus ride from Singyeongju Station to Gyeongju Terminal Bus took about 20 minutes only. It’s autumn, Gyeongju look like late evening although it just 3 o’clock. 

I stop at Gyeongju Bus Terminal, as from my inadequate research, this area is the tourist center or base. There’s a lot of cheap motel around here, you can simply just walk in into any of them (that’s what I do in my 2014 trip..LOL). But since this is my first trip, I book in advance a good stay for a night at a Hanok style guesthouse: Shillabang Guest House. Lucky that the tourist information booth is still open, so I ask them the direction. They tell me it’s about 20 minutes walk from bus terminal, located near the Gyeongju Train Station, and where to turn to get to guesthouse.

Click to enlarge

Yorobun, if anyone tell you that you need to walk 5 minutes..it quite a distance, maybe few blocks away..but not to far. But if people say it’s 20 minutes walks, that is seriously FAR!!! I guess about 1 kilometers away. Yup, walking distance this far is OK if you just walking around, but not if you carrying heavy backpack with you, take a bus or taxi juseyo.

I should check properly & stop at train station instead of bus station. Look at the map, it look close isn’t it? hahaha. Or I should query the tourist booth at Singyeongju Station to check on the guesthouse location & where best to stop (but I do worry if the bus using different route & I don’t know where to stop..LOL). Anyway, these kind of unexpected things will give an awesome experience to be remember, and a story to tell..hihi.

Walking around here is nice too. Get a glimps of what the town is all about. A lot of Gyeongju bread store, lots of building with traditional roof style & gate. Tombs is everywhere. Tamples and park here and there. Beautiful.

In case you didn’t know or haven’t read my previous post, let me explain again. Gyeongju was once a capital city of Silla Kingdom (period: 57BC – 935 AD). This period in Korea history is known as The Three Kingdoms Period: Shilla, Goguryeo & Beakja. This three kingdom are then reunited into Goryeo dynasty (918 – 1392), Joseon dynasty (1392 – 1897) and Korean Empire (1897 – 1910). Korea then was rule by the Japanese (1910 – 1945); and after some provisional Government and Military Government, the Korea are split into North Korea & South Korea as we have today.
Because of this long and rich history, Gyeongju become an open air museum. You can see tombs everywhere in the city: not only for the royal family, but also for the high ranking people. Cheomseongdae, oldest observatory in Far East still stand strong till today. You can also notice that most roads are names after a historical figure, for example: Alcheon Road, Kim Yushin Road.

Mid way, with heavy backpack when I start to lost on where the guesthouse might be, I start to question myself, ‘am I crazy?’, ‘should I regret this’, ‘am I making a mistake right now?’
I keep walking after a short break sitting at landscaping bench. But around train station, I’m not really sure which alley to take. The tourist guide say something about take the alley after the market. I lost. 

There happen to be road alley instead of shoplot alley. I walk in, but it’s dead end with parking space. In a small guard house or parking office maybe, I saw few ahjusshi enjoying their soju. I have no choice but to ask them. About 5 of them, only one ahjusshi (let call him Ahjusshi A, wearing a coat in picture below) can understand basic English. I show my guesthouse name. They don’t know about it. This is because since this city is tourism city, there are guest house and motel almost everywhere. 
One very friendly ahjusshi (Ahjusshi B – the one in red jacket if I’m not mistaken) that didn’t talk English at all, start calling around to find my guesthouse. He try to call the guesthouse but no answer. Ahjusshi A, whom face bit blushing red, perhaps due to soju he just enjoy, ask me to follow him. I thought they found where it is & just walking to show me direction. But NO!!. Ahjusshi A enter his car & start the engine, ask me to come with him. Gila cuak wehhh ahjusshi muka tengah merah lepas minum soju ajak naik kereta!! Aku ni baru je first day jejak tanah orang..nak ikut sebarangan?? I’m bit taken aback and refusing to follow & keep saying gwenchana..gwenchana (It’s okay) until Ahjusshi A give up..haha. Nasib baik la reti perkataan sepatah ni. 
Then somehow Ahjusshi B manage to call the guesthouse owner and ask her to pick me up…lol. So while waiting for the guesthouse lady, Ahjushhi B keep talking in Korean,saying some thing like ‘we are like father, don’t be afraid”….owhhh…I’m soo touched. I can feel their sincerity. They all are very kind people. I manage to take this picture while waiting for guesthouse owner to pick me up. Actually my guesthouse just behind this area, but there’s another alley that connect to that area…hehe.

Short and very simple encounter with local, but very memorable to me. I learnt to trust stranger more..hehe.
Ni baru siap cerita siang…kisah menarik first night advanture here to be continue =D

Annyeonghaseyo – hello
yorobun – everyone (addressing people in mass)
juseyo – please
ahjusshi – uncle
soju – Korean alcoholic drink

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