Saturday, April 9, 2011

Modern-day pyramids

We hadn’t read much about Gyeongju before arriving, but perhaps even if we had, we would not have been prepared for the sight of the 4th century Shilla burial mounds that rise like sentinels out of the Gyeongju landscape. Beautiful and eerie, it’s like stumbling into a Lewis Carroll poem… Built by piling rocks up to 22 meters high and packing dirt on top, they store the remains of Shilla monarchs and their families. Obviously grassy hillocks are a bit more subtle than pyramids rising from the starkness of the desert, but certainly they deserve a little more attention!

We also explored the beautiful Bulgak-sa temple, reputedly one of the best examples of Shilla architecture although, admittedly, we were more intrigued by the mysterious stacks of rocks near one of the shrines than the intricate woodwork.

If only our food explorations in Gyeongju were so grand… We attempted to find a Korean BBQ place recommended by our Norwegian sunmudo teacher but, having only vague directions and no name (as if we could read one anyway), it was a hopeless cause. Luckily, the Pizza Hut we spotted on our long search was still open (and packed with people). Americanization saves the day!

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