On Tuesday and Wednesday our bosses took the teachers from our school on a staff workshop trip. It was teacher’s day on Wednesday so it is common for employers and employees at schools to celebrate it together. This year we got taken to Gyeongju. All of the teachers have to write a report to show our appreciation to the governor, as he is the one who funds these trips! So here is David’s and my report…
Becky and I had been looking forward to the workshop trip for months. We awoke early and met all the teachers and staff outside our apartments at 8:50. We hit the road shortly after, but not before receiving a breakfast/snack pack from Suzi and SoHee. We made a short stop en route to Gyengju at a rest area. Here we participated in some fun activities, such as a baseball batting cage and a power hammer game.
We arrived at Gyeongju, Korea’s ancient capital, at around 11am. We made our first stop at Bulguksa Temple. We had some time to explore this wonderfully historic and beautiful temple. The Temple was bustling with school children on school trips and had a great atmosphere. The temple was being prepared for Buddha’s birthday celebrations so it was especially beautiful. After some free time in the temple we made our way back to the vans to make a short drive to the Seokguram Grotto. The grotto is located at the end of a beautiful path and is huge statue of Buddha carved into the rocks, it is very impressive.
Next, we got back in the vans and drove to our lunch stop, we went the Tofu Village and we enjoyed Tofu Steaks and a Sesame Tofu Soup. We had never seen these options on a menu in Korea before so we were eager to try them, unsurprisingly, they we absolutely delicious. These dishes were some of the most delicious things I have tried in a long time and came with an astounding amount if side dishes, it was a meal to remember.
Our afternoon was spent visiting the national museum. The museum housed many relics and important items that had been discovered in Gyeongju over the years, my favourite in particular was the golden crown from the Shilla Kingdom. We met a lovely local volunteer guide who shown us many of the exhibits and told us some of the history about the items. After an hour or so it was time to move to our next destination, the Tumuli Park. We arrived just as most of the crowds were leaving so it was nice to see it quieter and it was fascinating to walk around, and even inside, some of the tombs. Alas, it was time to move on to our motel and prepare for the evening.
We stayed at the SL Hotel in Gyeongju, it was one of the best hotels I have stayed in anywhere in the world. It had a giant TV, Bed and Bathtub, all set within immaculate and modern décor. We had some time to ready ourselves and for the evening before meeting I the reception lobby at 8pm.
Richard had researched a delicious restaurant close by that served SamGyupSal. The meat was grilled in the centre of the table and had some delicious extras, including sausages, mushrooms and even chicken hearts. We ate more than I should have but this was ok as we were going to one final destination, the Anapji Pond.
Suzi recommended that we visit at night and I immediately understood why as soon as we arrived, it was illuminated in such a way that it looked almost magical. This was the real highlight of the trip for me. We returned back to the hotel to enjoy the hotels excellent facilities.
We awoke bright the next day, it was another beautiful day with the sun shining and a warm breeze. We enjoyed a delicious complimentary breakfast at the hotel before climbing aboard the vans and driving towards the Bomun Lake area where we were to visit the Culture Expo Park. The park was great, the focal point was one of the most unique and elegant buildings I have ever seen, it was a 100 meter tall glass building with the silhouette of a pagoda cut out of the centre, and best of all, you could take an elevator to the top where they housed an informative exhibition. The grounds of the park had a well manicured garden and even a dinosaur exhibition, which was very refreshing as it was very hot outside. After taking a few pictures we headed into the downtown area of Gyeongju. Brian, one of the newest teachers wanted McDonalds so this was our lunch stop. It was very delicious too and a nice taste of home. After lunch was had the opportunity to explore the downtown area and look around a few shops.
Soon enough it was time to head back to Changnyeong, We were all so tired as we boarded the bus for the final time we could barely stay awake as we had seen so many things and visited so many places.
This workshop was very well thought out, the planning and expense that Richard, Suzi and SoHeee went to was sincerely appreciated. We will forever remember the wonderful time we had exploring the ‘museum without walls’, Gyeongju.