As you can see, my spring Temple Stay has left me with a lot of reflections and this past weekend I visited Bulguk Temple in the gorgeous city of Gyeongju. Bulguksa is a UNESCO protected site and lucky for me, there were still some fall colors left for me to photograph.
In comparison to Magoksa, we had a chance to make some paper lanterns at Bulguksa. Provided with some simple materials (paper cup, glue stick, and some dyed paper leaves) we were able to create some lotus-looking (and some not so lotus-looking) lanterns in about 30-40 minutes. Afterward, we were given some battery-powered miniature lights which helped illuminate our flowers and in turn created beautiful companions to our evening walk. Unfortunately for us, it was drizzling and some of our lanterns did the opposite of bloom. You should have seen curious onlookers on the street, who were inquisitive about who we were and what were we doing.
Our temple guide was a very interesting lady, whose family and kids reside in Seoul. On the contrary, she lives in Gyeongju at Bulguksa and enjoys following the morning lifestyle of a monk:
-Wake up at 3 am, followed by morning prayers, 108 prostrations (bows), and meditation, all before breakfast at 6 am.
Even though I packed my wider lens (24-105mm f4), I didn’t even end up using it. Instead, my nifty 50 (50mm f1.8) was my go-to since it’s so great in low light conditions and doesn’t look as bulky as the former. Anyways, I was a bit bummed out to not be able to capture the vast beauty of Bulguksa and its front gates, but I’m still satisfied with my shots from this trip (prime lenses are just incredible in their clarity and capability). Here are a few:
Before I mention our nightly walk by the Anapji Pond, something needs to be said about the amazingly delicious temple food. They abstain from meat products, but the soup and Bibimbop (rice mixed with various veggies and a red pepper sauce) dishes that we had, were very satisfying. Another must at the temple is Eating Everything on your Dish (maybe that’s why I felt so full!)
Now on to the last impressionistic place from this trip – Anapji Pond (which seems to be covered with rain every time I go there). Either way, we walked with our lanterns and enjoyed the beauty of this garden. Surprisingly, it was still quite packed with people on a drizzling Saturday night. Perhaps, its a famous dating spot in Gyeongju, who knows?!?
Even if waking up waaaay before dawn is not your idea for a Korean weekend trip, visiting Gyeongju is “a gotta” while visiting/living in Korea!