MonthMarch 2017

A Place to start falling. Gyeongju, South Korea.

We were half way in our semester journey in Seoul, excited and already a little melancholic because we knew that our little adventure was getting to its end. But of course, we had a lot left to do, and after returning from our vacations in the Philippines we started planning our trip to Japan. Although due to random circumstances I was going to end up in Gyeongju.

Short before getting the plane tickets I went to the Japan embassy to check if I was eligible to visit the country with my Ethiopian passport but turns out, I couldn’t even ask for a visit visa. That was one of the most disappointing moments of my adventure in Seoul. My friends didn’t have any problems because they all are European passport holders.

But, when God closes a door, he always opens a window (it sounds better in Spanish). By that time I was starting to date a girl, and she came up with an idea, visiting Gyeongju. Until the very moment she told me about the place, I had no Idea it even existed, but never say no to an adventure, right?

From Seoul, the best way to rich Gyeongju is by bus, and that was our choice, we took it on a Thursday afternoon, to my surprise, the bus was really comfortable, and after four hours of travel games and staring at each other’s eyes we arrived in Gyeongju. It was late at night, we had some trouble finding the location of the hotel we booked at but finally we made it, the hotel was really quiet and small, but with an excellent manner from the stuff, just as described in the reviews.

Gyeongju National Museum

After a good night sleep, the first day we decided to take a bike tour through the city, we first went to a huge park, I don’t really remember the name.

The first thing we felt when riding through Gyeongju was that we were real strangers to the place, because you barely could see any tourist, and if you saw some, most of them were Asians. Actually when we went for lunch we couldn’t really communicate, so we didn’t really know what we were choosing to eat, anyways, it was really tasty, I love Korean food.

In the evening we continued our ride, and with the help of our un-foldable map, we arrived to Gyeongju national museum, I dedicated a full article just to this place in past articles in the blog, feel free to check out. This place was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. That picture you see, didn’t even need a retouch. Just my Nikon D3300 and its kit lens.

Anapji Royal Pond

Anapji means “Goose and Duck Lake.”It was originally constructed in February 674 during the reign of Munmu, the 30th king of Silla.

The beauty of this place cannot be explained just with words, not even images are enough, you have to personally visit this incredible spot.

We arrived here after a pretty tired day of riding bikes up and down, to this day, I can close my eyes and feel the exact same thing I did while falling into her blue eyes with that spot as a background.

Gyeongju Yangdong Village

The beauty of its architecture is just Stunning, and you get perfect pictures wherever it is that you shot. The pictures at your left were taken in Gyeongju Yangdong Village, a UNESCO World heritage that perfectly showcases the culture and essence of the country.

Best part of it is, that it is not crowded by western tourists, the visitors are mostly locals or from neighbor countries like China or Japan, so, everyone you meet there has something new to unveil to you.

At the end of the tour, we sat down in a coffeehouse and had a cappuccino while getting our eyes lost in the beauty of the place, just imagining all the stories those roofs and walls hide.

This trip from its beginning was about falling, from the failed trip to Japan to falling into someone’s eyes. Without any doubt, one the most meaningful trips I have ever made.

Jeju Island, South Korea. Unexpected Beauty

Since the very first moment, we arrived in Seoul, whenever we asked anyone to tell us about places worth visiting in the country, they all opened their mouth with the words “Jeju Island”. None of us had heard about it before, so we looked at each other with skeptical eyes while they explained how incredibly beautiful the island is.

Short after classes began and we received the university calendar, we started to plan trips for all the holidays we had during the semester. For Korean Hangul Day (Korean Letters Day) we had three days off, and it was still September, which meant good weather, and a great opportunity to travel through the country, so, we decided we would give Jeju a try and see what all the locals were talking about.

We were so lucky to meet Albertini the first days of class, a Korean guy that took almost all his lessons in English and loved it to hang out with the foreigners, he was born in Jeju and all his family lived there, and since he was also traveling to the island to spend the vacations with his family, he offered to host us at his own home in Jeju, that was so cool of him.

My friends decided to make it a day trip and took a train to the south coast of the country and then a ferry from there to rich the Island, since it was Friday and I had an exam in the morning, I took a plane in the evening and made to Jeju at night. I arrived with almost no expectations about the island, but my friends had already had their first contact with the island and they were already quite impressed.

Seongsan Ilchulbong, Jeju

The next day, we woke up early in the morning to visit the Seongsan Ilchulbong volcano. I remember it was a hot day, but the peak was not that high so, we made it to the top with not much difficulty. The views were Stunning.

That same day, we went to a beach to spend the evening, I don’t even remember asking for its name, we were so stunned by its beauty, that we even forgot to unfold our cameras. Its white sands, its crystal blue water and all the green nature surrounding it…, the colors were just perfect. It definitely falls into the top three beaches I have ever seen. Its name is Hyeopjae Beach in case you want to google it. The very moment we arrived there we felt in love with the Jeju.

Hangul Day Celebrations

After that amazing day we had, we ended it up with a couple of beers in our hands and a nice chat.

The morning after we woke up really early to celebrate Korean Letters day with Albertini and his family, the celebrations started with prayers led by the oldest man in the family and followed with an amazing meal. After that, we left to continue visiting the Island, but normally, the celebrations go on all day long, they spend 3h approx. in every family member’s home who has to prepare a meal just as abundant and delicious as the previous one and they down the food with some Soju.

It definitely was one of the highlights of the trip, and we can’t thank enough all the hospitality received.

Jeongpang Waterfall, Jeju

After that incredible experience with Albertini and his family, we headed to the Jeongpang Waterfall. It was so huge, that I remember feeling small like a peanut when I was underneath it.

Hallasan Volcano, Jeju

This is the highest pick in South Korea (1950m).

After three non-stop days, having less than 5h sleep, the last day, we decide to hike Hallasan, it was exhausting and it seemed like it was never going to end, but we made it a competition to make it to the top, plus, there were plenty of ladies and gentlemen on their 60s hiking like if it was nothing to them, elderly Koreans are really in shape, and if they could we could.

At the end, it was worth it!

Jeju is one of the most beautiful memories I have, and it will always be, the two words that better define that tip is Unexpected Beauty. Learn how to keep your expectations low, and you live in a world of surprises.

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