I wanted to try the KTX to Busan, in a way I was inspired by the movie ‘Train to Busan’ but not the zombies, I hate zombies, I prefer something that is dead to always be dead and not walk around eating the living. I talked about the KTX in my other post. I had limited time in South Korea so I only scheduled visiting Gyeongju for a one-day trip. I studied a little bit about Gyeongju before I decided what places I could visit in a limited time. I am always interested in archaeological findings, my undergraduate is Archaeology so it is a habit of knowing more about culture and ancient findings. I visited a lot of temples in Java during some of my road trips and found them fascinating.
Let’s go back to Gyeongju. The cold weather limited my visit to a couple of places, Bulguksa is one of what I want to see. It is considered to be one of the oldest temples of the world, in 1995 it is a World Cultural Asset by UNESCO.
From the page of Official Korea Tourism Organization I found that:
“Bulguksa Temple was built in 528 during the Silla Kingdom, in the 15th year of King Beop-Heung’s reign (514-540). The temple was originally called ‘Hwaeom Bulguksa Temple’ or ‘Beopryusa Temple’ and was rebuilt by Kim Dae-Seong (700-774), who started rebuilding the temple in 751 during the reign of King Gyeong-Deok (r. 742-765) and completed it in 774 during the reign of King Hye-Gong (r. 765-780). Upon completion, the temple’s name was changed to Bulguksa.”
In a very cold weather, I took the time to go around Bulguksa. I like cold but this was too cold for my second day in South Korea. In spite of this, the dry climate is an advantage for me, I am allergic to humidity. Can you imagine? I live in a tropical country with a high humidity. Thank God there are things called air conditioner and humidifier. If I travel to the countryside of Indonesia I get fresher air and I survive better. My impression of Bulguksa was…. It is a huge temple made out of wood with magnificent carving and decoration. As most East Asian temples that I know it is colorful, bright colors are a must. The roof is full of ornaments and of course dragons are present as one of the ornaments, the symbol of a dragon as an important mythical being is always present in East Asia important buildings. Dragon is the symbol of power, strength, and good luck. I always like looking at dragon figure in East Asia setting not because it is a powerful being that controls everything and it brings good luck, I simply like the shape.
Looking at the map of Bulguksa it is divided into some parts. I have the privilege to see some, the cold weather slowed down my pace in getting to places. According to the map, there are 3 main places to see plus a beautiful garden. The pond was frozen at the time I visited, but I can imagine how beautiful it is during the summer. The library was closed for renovation so I could not see it. The main temple is the one in the middle. It is divided into some building with the Buddha statue in the biggest building. The main material is wood, differ than Indonesian old Buddhist temple that is made from stone. Maybe there were some made of wood but they did not survive the humidity, the dry climate made the wood preserved better. The back of the temple is the monastery.
There are two pagodas in Bulguksa. I was looking for the pagoda, I imagine a big pagoda, and I found it the middle of the temple far from ‘the big’ that I imagined. I watched too many movies. The feeling I got when I visited temples is the calm energy from the surroundings, maybe this is the reason they built a temple in a certain location. It was chosen because of the calm and serenity feel of the surroundings.
We decided to go to other places in we continued the journey and decided to go to Bunhwangsa temple. I took the number 700 bus from Bulguksa Temple. The temple gate is across the road, just walk across and you will find it.
Bunhwangsa stone pagoda. An old temple reminded me of temples in Java. I visited a lot of temples in Java everytime I went on a road trip, as my subject in university is archaeology.
I arrived at this place a little bit late, because I walked from Bunhwangsa and got lost. It was already dark. However, the darkness made the place more appealing to the eyes. This place is a summer palace where the royal family spent leisure time.