Thursday, May 04, 2006

fourth day: Gyeongju

We began this day by taking the bus #11 out to Bulguksa, perhaps Gyeongju's most famous temple. One thing that's remarkable after being in Japan for so long is the spaciousness of Korea. The tourist locales aren't teeming with people! The hotel rooms have space to turn around! There is overall a less crowded feeling to Korea, even in Seoul. Space doesn't seem to be at such a premium, and there is more room to breathe.
After Bulguksa, we headed back to town to visit the tumulus park, tombs of the Silla kings and queens. The mounds are impressive, but not shocking. The park is very peaceful, and seems like a good place to have a picnic. It's a lovely place to stroll around between the rolling mounds and ruminate about 6th century kingdoms. You can enter one of the mounds and get a feeling for how the burial process took place.
We returned to Seoul by way of express bus to DongDaegu (not as nice as our bus from Busan to Gyeongju) and then the KTX to Seoul. We made our destination Jongno 3ga this time, as it's centrally located and is on 3 subway lines. We scoped the area for a few minutes, and passed on Hotel Doulos - too expensive. Next door was Hotel Sheel, a theme love motel, with different decor on each floor. Decor includes cyber, modern, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, European, and VIP. Also Indian. We got an Indian room - we didn't know it when we checked in, but we were very happy with our room. All the amenities of June and Liebe, and great decor. Since we checked in late, we got a reduced rate of 45,000. However, when we wanted to extend the next day and try another theme, we were told that the room rate would double if we wanted to keep it during the day. So we trucked our stuff back to the subway lockers and proceeded with our day. Not that much of a hassle, really. The lockers are only 1000 won and the hotel was really close to the station.

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