Before arriving, I did not picture Korea to be such a mountainous or nature loving country. I imagined the neon flashing lights and bustling streets that are shown in movies or other medias. While those features do not lack, the nature is more likely to be found across the country as a whole. This past weekend I attend a couple flower festivals and below are pictures that came with the fun of exploring through open fields of flowers. Enjoy! ♥
This past weekend I had the chance to visit Gyeongju which is located about 40 minutes North of Ulsan. Gyeongju is rich in history and even richer in beautiful scenery. However, it wasn’t always known as Gyeongju. Its early name was Saro which was the capitial of Silla, an ancient kingdom from 1st century BCE to 10th century CE. While most of the kingdom has been destroyed from war three structures and the artificial lake that was created still stand as beautiful ruins. Our next stop was to the tombs that were left preserving the royals. Korea has only excavated one tomb, Cheonmachong, and decided that they found enough artifacts that there was no need to ruin the others. Cheonmachong is not famous for the person who was buried there, in fact they have no clue who it is, but rather for the flying horse drawn onto a horse’s blanket. This symbol can be found all over the city from shop windows to billboards. Our last stop was to the water wheel that is deemed the founding place of tourism in Korea. After the water wheel was built next to a lake stores and hotels started moving in and tourism boomed.
Gyeongju is also known for having a wonderful cherry blossom festival but sadly the trees there hadn’t bloomed yet, but lucky for me because the ones in Ulsan are in full bloom and just as pretty as ever! The Cherry Blossom trees only bloom for two weeks during the whole year and bring beauty to everything around them. Most cities will hold a festival commemorating this time. As much as I could describe to you the trees I believe that pictures will do them more justice than I could!
Until the next post!!
I have officially been in South Korea for a month and I have to say it’s stealing my heart. One of the best things about the University of Ulsan is that they offer a simple conversation program for Korean students to practice English, Spanish or French from the exchange students who are native speakers. I cannot thank the University enough for choosing me to be a part of this program for the semester.
While practicing English is the main focus with my three groups that I meet with three hours each per week, they are so excited to show me their city and the surrounding ones! From movie nights and coffee shop dates the men that I am a conversation partner are making this experience all the better. However my two favorite memories so far have been 1) a beach trip to Daewanggyo National Park which offers an incredible bridge that connects a look out point on the rocks in the ocean to the mainland (pictured below) and 2) a pet café located just down the street from the University.
Aside from making memories with my tutees, the other exchange students and I have had quite the time getting to know each other and going on adventures. Located within Busan (about 45 minutes away) are several Buddhist temples and we took a day trip to Hongbeopsa Temple. Upon arrival we were greeted by grounds that are covered in sculptures, waterfalls, lanterns and so much beauty. At Hongbeopsa specifically you are welcomed to the temple by the largest Buddha I have ever seen. During our day at the temple I witnessed several traditions. The main one being the Prayer of 108 Prostrations. During this time those within the prayer room bow 108 times cleansing their minds during each bow. It is said that during each bow your mind and body become more of one and take away the thinking mind and return it to the natural mind. Upon entrance in the Hall of 1,000 Ancestors we found temple workers creating hand-made lanterns for the upcoming celebration of Buddha’s birthday. The simplicity that the lanterns start as and then created into an immaculate creation is more than awe worthy. Words simply cannot describe the beauty that was found that day at the temple.
Until next time,
Chloe King- Ulsan, South Korea
Arriving in Ulsan five days ago has left me with plenty of time to feel like I have become a native to the city. Although I know this is highly untrue, the city offers a homey, secure feeling that you would find in Maryville. However, Ulsan is very different than our tiny Midwest town.
Ulsan is a large metropolitan city located on the southern penesula of South Korea. There are 1.2 million people who call the city home with roughly thirty thousand of them being international. The locals are friendly and understanding of the language barrier that is between us and they are willing to help (we even had a lady call her daughter to translate for us so we could order dinner)! They care much about their appearance and the persona they put off outside their homes. Due to this there are many beauty stores and salons and several coffee shops on each block.
One of the major differences between here and home is that there seems to be hardly any traffic laws. Speeding, cutting people off, making u-turns in the middle of traffic. You name the law and someone Ian probably breaking it. Not to mention that side streets have parking on either side of a one lane street that traffic flows both directions at the same time while sharing the road with pedestrians. Unlike at home people do not stop for those walking!!
While I feel very safe and at home already, some of the other exchange students from California and myself have joked that this is the Asian Los Angeles. The brightly lighted store fronts mixed with the array of people walking the strip makes for a comforting feeling you’d find in the American city.
The past five days have been wonderful and I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time here has to offer. Photos to come next post!
다음 번엔 클로이 (Until next time, Chloe)