So I have been in South Korea for a little over 10 days now and I have taken in a few of the sights, mostly I have been totally blown away by the autumn colours as you will probably see in my photos. Did I mention that Autumn is my favourite time of year? As well as the massively pretty scene in the forests and parks it’s also a time where I can actually walk around fairly comfortably without feeling that I a going to melt from the heat. People in South Korea I think find me fascinating, I always see them talking about my piercing when they think I’m not looking and I sometimes catch them staring, I am fine with this. I am not normal for them with my beard and piercings, if I still had my long hair I am sure it would only cause them to stare more. Also it’s probably important to note that South Korea is a very fashion conscious place, everybody seems to dress like they are going somewhere special even if they are only out for coffee. I have also noticed a lot of the younger people are wearing glasses frames with no lenses in, yes hipsters are here too but I never have or will understand or join in with fashion. Keep in mind if you visit South Korea that although they have had a big American population here for some time probably due to the army bases here. In general it has not really been open to the concept of westerners using their country to travel in for that long so it’s all a bit new to them. You do have to be prepared to be stared at if you look slightly out of place, you cannot tell if they are judging you or not and even if they are why should it interfere with you as a person?
So since I got here I spent a few days in Busan, then took a plane over to the island of Jeju where I took a few walks into the wilderness without a camera, again I was trying to just absorb rather than document, then back to Busan for a few days before jumping on a bus up to Gyeongju and then up to the city of Daegu. Based upon my current experience it might be wise to not tell Koreans that I have been to Japan and vice versa, there is a hell of a lot of ugly history between these two neighbouring countries and after a conversation (and I use that in the loosest sense) with a guy in a bar who was telling me that Dokdo is a Korean island several times over until I said it back t him every time he asked which made him happy. If you look at the Wikipedia page you will see that it’s a set of islands quite close to Korea that half are owned by Korea and the other half by Japan and I believe the political conflict about these islands still continues today.
I’d like to thank some people here and not wanting this to turn into some award ceremony style huge thank you list I am going to keep it short and simple. First of all Shinya and Masa from the Takataniya hostel back in Fukuoka, Japan. I mentioned them a little in my last post from Japan but these two dudes were awesome during my time in Fukuoka. Shinya recommended a place to stay in Busan run by friends of his so I applied for a room via Hostelworld.com and e-mailed ahead to tell them I would be there fairly early depending. When I got to Busan I followed the instructons given to me by the hostel owners and found them without too many issues, I stayed there a total of four nights, two before I went to Jeju and two after. I must say the two ladies who run this hostel are wonderful people, thoughtful, helpful, enthusiatic and passionate about their city and country. They give you so much information it’s a little hard to know what to do first and they told me a lot about other places to go in Korea too, one of which was Gyeongju.
Now I had read that Gyeongju was sleepy but I’m not after crazy nightlife here I am after an experience and I am gld I spent two nights there. Gyeongju’s slogan is ‘beautiful’ and while I was wandering roung the city and park in the area it is easy to see why. They have mountains that are easy to get at and hike up and around and busses that fgo to local parks and places of interest in the area. I took a bus out to Bulguksa temple, yes another temple, still not bored of them but I took two pictures that I want to share with the readers of the blog. The first is one taken from the temple and for me it depicts one of the main reasons I love autumn, Korean temples are pretty colourful compared to Japanese ones and I think the colours of the trees in the background really mingle with the temple itself
The second was take as I hiked back to the bus to head back to the hostel and some much needed dinner. I was walking down a tree lined path and the sun was ahead of me gently setting casting some beautiful light coming into the trees. I decided to take a few photos to capture the feel of the place and I pretty much threw all of them away apart from one. For me it’s the low angle that makes it a keeper along with the glare from the setting sun.
So you can probably see why the environment I have been in has inpired some of my more recent revelations. A quick thanks to who sent me mail about that last piece too and if you have not seen it yet I did put up a little video from my hike up the hill which I have now included in my first post from South Korea. If your too lazy to go and view that on the site just select the following link.