Gyeongju & Andong
This little historical town is most famous for its royal tombs called tumuli. what’s so special about these tombs is that they are made up of big piles of sand and depending on the importance of the person who is buried, the bigger tomb of course. Personally I wasn’t really impressed by these tombs so I didn’t really spend that much time in Gyeongju.
I did rent a bike and went around the tombs and other touristic spots such as the Bulguksa, yet another Unesco World Heritage temple. The bike ride there was quite misleading though, since I followed a map there with the wrong distances between places. I ended up biking for about an hour or so to reach there and roughly 1,5hours getting back, with wind in my face. I wouldn’t say it was worth it, but at least I got some work out out of it….
At night I visited the Anapji pond, a nice little group of temples which have been rebuilt. Not really sure about the historical background though, but the site gives you a postcard type of view during nightfall when the buildings are illuminated.
This place was recommended to me by another traveler that I happened to meet in Gyeongju. It was after I arrived I realised that this was a place I just HAD to go to. Why you ask? Quite a dorky reason though: I used to play an online game where you could “dress up” your character. One of the items you could wear was a hahoe mask. I liked it the first time I saw it, but never understood or knew where it came from. And by visiting the Hahoe village in Andong, I got some answers and more importantly, I got to try one in real life.The Hahoe village in itself was still a functional folk village where people were still living at, compared to other ones where the people have already moved out or where the buildings are strictly used for commercial purposes. It was interesting to see how they managed to get the floor heating working back in the days when they only used mortar and clay to build the houses. If you do visit the village, make sure you try to visit it on wednesdays or saturdays. That’s when they have a free theatre performance with the different hahoe masks on. Too bad I couldn’t understand what they were saying since it was in Korean, but nevertheless it was fascinating to see them perform.