Gyeongju was an unexpected adventure. On the day that I was supposed to leave for Myanmar, my flight was delayed by several hours, meaning I would miss my connecting flight and creating a mess of travel issues. The final solution was to get my flight moved to two days later, which meant I had more time in South Korea, but nowhere to sleep! A friend that I had met at the hostel in Busan invited me to travel to Gyeongju with him, and so I returned from the airport and off we went by bus to this little town! About 10 minutes after checking in to our hostel, Diogo and I met an Italian woman, Manuela, who was traveling on her own. We all got along right away, and I was so happy to be able to speak Italian for the first time in awhile! The three of us spent the next two days exploring the town together.
On the first day, we walked around town and wandered through these flower fields and observatory. I especially loved the lotus flowers!
These large green hills are actually tombs, which we saw around town.
Later that evening, we visited the Donggung Palace, which looks so beautiful while lit up in the dark.
On our second day in Gyeongju, we did a hike up the east side of Namsan Mountain. Before starting, we wandered around a temple at the bottom, and then began the trek in 103 degree weather.
The heat meant that no one else was hiking, so we had the mountain all to ourselves, except for the monks that lived at the monastery there. We were greeted kindly by the monks, who served us tea and another traditional Korean drink and invited us into their home for conversation.
There were some beautiful views from the mountaintop, which made hiking in the heat worth it!
In the end, I was thankful for my flight delay, as it allowed me to spend time with new friends and explore this wonderful town. After leaving Gyeongju, I flew to Yangon in Myanmar.
-- The best stories are found between the pages of a passport --