28 December 2014

More buddhas in Gyeongju

 Dear Coco
Today we drove to Gyeongju with Mr Kwon, a senior colleague of Simon's who teaches English at the school where Simon works. His brother-in-law and his sister in law, Mr and Mrs Choi, live in this city that is the cultural capital of Korea it seems, stemming from the days it was the centre of the Silla Dynasty that ruled Korea from 57 BC to 668 AD. We met Mr and Mrs Choi and had tea with them in their lofty apartment, where Mr Choi chatted to us about Korean ancient history. So-Hyoung - a friend of Simon's who had driven down from Daegu for the day - joined us after tea and we then visited a museum all about the treasures of the Silla empire, before exploring the temples and gardens of Gyeongju Bulguksa, which is one of many temples here that are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We entered past one of the not-so-scary guardians of the Buddha - this one with a lute,
and Mr Choi explained the intricate way the stone walls and foundations of this ancient temple had been constructed. We thought that Mike Rodseth would have appreciated all this.
We went into the temple - you have to take your shoes off - to see the Buddha statue and some shiny stones that are saris- or calcified bits from the cremation of the real Buddha. Amazing!
Up under the eaves of this temple were some snary dragons - and beyond them some more beautiful pine forests.
And this is a good luck pig.
Looking down from the temple - such a pretty place.
And all of us in front of the temple - So-hyang , Simon, the Alph, Mr Choi and Mr Kwon.
On our way out we passed a frozen lake,
and Mr Choi asked the gardener who was sweeping under the Flowering Cherry trees to recommend a restaurant for lunch,
which he did.
We then went to the Buddha statue that is inside an ancient, intricately constructed stone grotto. No photos were allowed inside, but you can see the mound behind, inside which is the Buddha.
More driving - this time to the sea where there were two large pagodas in the distinctive Korean style to admire. We walked past this rather sad little dog that was chained to its kennel. Not looking very happy.
This is one of the two pagodas that overlook a river,
with rice paddies all along the edge.
Right on the coast is a lookout site at the Igyondae where you can see where one of the rulers of the Silla dynasty, King Mumnu, was buried - and hoped to come back as a sea dragon to prevent the Japanese from invading Korea.
Then it was time for supper in a beautiful traditional-style Korean restaurant. Utterly spoiled were we.
The restaurant is all part of a restored area to show what life in ancient Korea must have been like. It was really cold, but so beautiful and clear, and we walked around a bit
admiring some of the ancient monuments and then eventually went home to our guest house. Poor So-Hyoug had to go back to Daegu as she has to work tomorrow - she lectures in English at a posh university in Daegu.
We are staying in a guest house with beds on the floor - which is heated. But more tomorrow - its quite late now and I am feeling a bit cross-eyed. Hope you are all being good dogs,
love from the Food Lady xxx

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