South Korea Round the Island – Day 5 – Bulguksa Temple & Seokguram Grotto & Juknokwon Bamboo Forest

Scenic Rusty Korea  – Day 5 

Bulguksa Temple – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Early in the morning we departed to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bulguka Temple.  It took us about 1 hour drive from Daegu, where we stayed last night.  The Bulguksa temple was located on the slopes of mount Toham, Gyeongju city, North Gyeongsang province.

This is the land of Buddha as the names suggests, refer to the signboard in Chinese characters at the main entrance.

The temple is classified as Historic and Scenic Site No. 1 by the South Korean government.

The surrounding of the temple are just beautiful with lovely ponds and streams which was not frozen yet.  I believe it would be frozen in the real winter time.

This place has very huge courtyard and the ground is nice to walk around. We were like having our morning workout.

Bulguksa is an elegant temple in Korea, the architecture of the temple look similar to the one in Xian,  China mainly because it was built at the same era-528, during the Silla Kingdom.

I did not get into the temple because shoes has to be taken off before entering.  It was a peaceful place to pray and to get some meditation.

It was very colorful and quiet temple to allow for peaceful reflection.

Wishing stone piles

At the back of the temple, there are countless piles of wishing stones of various shapes and sizes that people have stacked up.  I heard these were “wishing stone piles”, a gesture of wishing for good fortune, each stone within the stack represents a particular wish and possibly, family member.

Golden Pig Statue

If you look closely, there is a golden pig shape statue hidden behind the signboard.  It is hard to notice because it was covered with the hanging board.  We only knew this because our tour guide asked us to search for an animal.  But most recently, it has gotten a lot of attention from many visitors.

Our tour guide told us Bulguksa Temple underwent numerous renovations, about 40 times. One of the time was due to the Japanese Invasion also known as Imjin War.  To me, the temple look very old but well maintained.

A huge stone outside the Bulguksa Temple – stated as UNESCO Site.

Seokguram Grotto – UNESCO Site

There was a long walk for about 20 mins, 4km in the uphill slope before reaching Seokguram Grotto, it is part of Bulguksa complex.

It is also one of the national treasure of Korea.  There is a Buddha statue behind a glass, the white Buddha is 3.5 meters in height and sits on lotus pedestal. No picture allowed inside the Grotto.

The Grotto is fairly small. I was not particularly impressed by the Grotto but I was happy with the beautiful scenery along the uphill path towards the Grotto, spotted some squirrels too along the path.

Before we reached for our bus at the car park, there were some Korean ladies selling some chestnut, herbs and spice.

Lunch – Korean Well-being Beancurd Set

This picture was taken before the real tofu hot pot served to our table.  The hotpot tofu is our main course but I prefer just tasting the Korean complementary side dishes/banchan.

The restaurant which we had our lunch, less than half an hour from the Bulguksa temple.  After so much hiking in the mountain, we were glad to have a hot tofu pot for our lunch.

After the tofu hot pot, I had a lovely walk outside the restaurant.  Having some fresh air as my whole body was quite warm after the hotpot.  Pretty sad to see no more leaves on the tree, after all it was winter.

Juknokwon – Bamboo Forest

We arrived at Juknokwon Bamboo Forest at around 4pm, sun about to set. I was a bit worried if we could find our way out before sunset.

This is a place for couples, holding hands and strolling slowly in this calm and quiet environment.  Plenty of walking for today as this forest is not small.  Took a seat at a bamboo swing and again great photo opportunities everywhere.

There were many path in this Bamboo forest and our tour guide asked if we wanted to see panda, we all eagerly said yes and we thought we could see real pandas.  To our disappointment, there were only fake panda.  But it was still quite relaxing listening to the sound of the artificial waterfall.

It was a relief to find our way out before sunset.  It was very cold and getting very creepy especially the sunlight were getting gloomy.  We exit out from a different way.

Mushroom Steamboat Dinner

We had the mushroom steamboat for dinner.  It was very nice to have steamboat again in the cold weather.  Plenty of tofu were added in the mushroom steamboat.  Today we had a lot of tofu!  Tofu is great source for protein, good for my muscle building diet.

Ramada Plaza Gwangju Hotel in Gwangju

We stayed in Ramada Plaza Hotel in Gwangju.  The hotel is located in the city area.  It was quite traffic jam when we arrived in Gwangju, after all, Gwangju is the sixth largest city in Korea. Gwang in Chinese mean light/ and Ju/state is .  Literally translation is Light City.

Day 5 – Itinerary (8 Dec 2016)

  • Bulguksa Temple – UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Seokguram Grotto – UNESCO Site
  • Lunch – Korean Well-being Beancurd Set
  • Juknokwon – Bamboo Forest
  • Mushroom Steamboat Dinner
  • Ramada Plaza Hotel Gwangju

 

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