Apr 242024

After the (correct) bus dropped us off back in the Tumuli Park area of Gyeongju – this is where all of the 23 burial mounds are located, as well as a really popular street that runs through the area, full of shops, cafes, restaurants, etc. Cemetery tourism, man! That’s my jam. Anyway, I had originally wanted to do all of this stuff the next day, which was supposed to be dry and sunny, but it all worked out because the rain kept the crowds at bay FOR SURE.

Except that there was still a small line of people anxious to have their photos taken with this random tree, rain be damned! It was actually hilarious. No one lines up for tree pictures in the States! I’ve passed so many trees like this one on my daily walks around Brookline and not a single passerby stops and gives them a second glance. Do Koreans just appreciate these things more than us, or is it more about getting the aesthetic IG shot?? Who knows, but I will say that it’s people of all ages who clammer for blossom shots. When I saw one couple arrive with a professional photoshoot set up, I was like, “Fuck it, we’ll come back tomorrow morning and try this again” – YEAH, U THOUGHT, ERIN.

But anyway, Chooch took some of these photos for us and you can imagine how fucking annoyed he was, ESPECIALLY because we were supposed to be on our way to find lunch when I spotted other people taking photos here. And, you know what they do, monkey see monkey do.

(The amount of times when adults said that to me when I was a kid, wow, I just had a surge of memories.)

We found a tteokbokki place to eat! I was excited because it’s the type of place where you fill out an order sheet and it was entirely in Korean. Henry immediately opened up Google translate on his phone but Chooch and I were like, “WE CAN DO THIS” and we did! I was happy that the ahjumma running the place trusted us with the order pad and didn’t attempt to do it for us.

*HOMER DROOL* Words cannot express how much we love tteokbokki in our household. Of course, we both slapped the fish cakes onto Henry’s plate. I also had a cheese helmet (my term lol) added to mine, and I was so excited when I was able to translate that part of the ordering options. She originally forgot to give it to me but then she remembered, came over, short of moved me out of the way and dump a pile of shredded mozzarella on top, then ladled another layer of sauce on top to assist with the melting. It was delicious.

We also got cheese balls and that’s another thing that is indescribable. In America, cheese balls would be coated in a savory breading, but in Korea, it’s subtly sweet and a different texture/consistency than our typical cheese sticks / cheese balls. The breading is smooth and just hits different. I would willingly burn my mouth every single day for those babies.

Anyway, I loved this place because I felt like a local being there and the food was so satisfying and filling….perhaps too filling, lol.

This is the popular main street (Hwangnidan-gil) of the burial mound park area – even though it was raining, it was nice to be able to walk down it without crowds. Although at times, there were a good bit of people that would come at us in swarms in spite of the downpour so there was some umbrella bumping in play.

There were a lot of stationary shops on this street and one in particular was playing ALL BIGBANG SONGS. I have some video clips of that which I will post either here or, if this extends to another post, then there. I take my recaps seriously! No skimping.

It started raining very hard at one part so we dipped into a cafe that was set back a bit off the main road – I think it was called Secret Forest?? I got this delicioso matcha latte and we sat in this cozy little alcove area, probably not talking because it had been a long ass motherfucking day, you guys, lol. We hadn’t even checked into our guest house yet, actually, and it was nearly 4PM so we decided to start heading back (luckily, our guest house was located REALLY close to this tourist area and was less than a  minute walk).

Which was great because I was already stuffed with tteokbokki and that matcha tipped me over to the point where I legit thought I was going to throw up. Actually, I probably would have felt much better if I *had* thrown up but also, ew.

Some of the mounds were visible on our walk back so even though my stomach was overflowin’, I had to take some liberal pauses in order to make some photographical memories.

It was a straight shot right to the block where our guest house was located.

Faceless Chooch.

Literally RIGHT before we got to the guest house, I saw a nice little gift shop called Osilla and within .005 seconds, the proprietor of the shop was asking us where we’re from and if we speak Korean. I laughed and said, “A bit,” in Korean, and he said the same for English but his English was wonderful, waaaay better than my Korean! Anyway, what a great guy. He was showing us pictures of himself from years ago when he was in the Navy and was stationed in Honolulu – he “accidentally” showed us a picture of him with some bikini-clad broads twice and Chooch and I were giggling like children.

He said that he taught himself graphic design and a lot of the things in the shop featured his own designs. I bought a really pretty black coffee cup that had a design of a royal crown in gold, and a really pretty flower necklace. Chooch bought some handmade soap (Chooch loves soap) and then Henry grudgingly came in from the rain and I told the guy, “He was in the Airforce!” so then he went over and showed Henry his pictures, too.

Honestly, that guy alone made the trip to Gyeongju so amazing. The further out you get from Seoul, the harder it is to find people who speak English, so making this connection was really cool. I was happy to support his art, too!

The guest house was literally like 2 doors down – no wonder Henry was so pissed. We were so close to making it all the back without spending more money, lol.

There was some French broad sitting in the eating area having a REALLY LOUD Facetime conversation – thankfully she was staying on that floor and we were upstairs, because I don’t think I could have handled staying in a room near hers. She was….really something.

The hallway to our room, where we would rest for a bit, change into dry clothes, and then get ready to go back out because there were some things that I HAD TO SEE AT NIGHT even though it was STILL FUCKING RAINING and no one wanted to walk in that shit BUT HELLO WE ARE IN KOREA AND WASTING TIME!!

So, stay tuned for that. It was actually my favorite part of Gyeongju even though the memory of it is making me shiver and feel like I’m getting a cold except that I actually really do have a cold right now and somehow didn’t end up getting one then!

Say it don't spray it.

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