The Korean bear

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DAY 6

(Reading time: 6 minutes)

Today, heavy rain showers were forecasted. Ignoring the forecast and visiting Bulguksa Temple turned out to be the right decision because, of course, not a single drop fell.

Bulguksa is considered one of the most significant landmarks in Korean history and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built during the Silla period (7th – 10th century) and has since undergone repeated destructions (raids, fires, typhoons…) and subsequent reconstructions, with at least four major renovations. The temple preserves the so-called “Six Korean National Treasures” – 1) the temple itself, 2) a stone bridge (Blue Cloud Bridge, at the front in the picture above), 3-4) two pagodas, and 5-6) two gilded Buddha statues.

Throughout the entire complex, paper lanterns with wishes are hung, a custom originating in China but spread throughout Asia, especially in the south and east.

Part of the Bulguksa temple complex, a few kilometers up the hill, is the Seokguram Grotto, an artificially created cave with a mysteriously smiling 3.5-meter-tall statue of Buddha Shakyamuni. It is a pilgrimage site for Buddhists, which unfortunately was inaccessible during our visit.

BUT! We should still have one photo of the grotto!

This picture is from the Teddy Bear Museum, where we went after visiting Bulguksa. We definitely insist that this museum is by no means just for children. The tour is designed as a journey of a group of teddy bears…

…traveling through time using a time machine. Time travels take the bears first to the prehistoric era with dinosaurs and then to the Silla period, where they attract a little T-Rex.

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And that wasn’t all. At the end, we encountered a bearish lapidarium with slightly modified famous sculptures. The overall impression of the museum is like when a dog and a cat bake a cake together, but it’s funny, cute, and even educational, so why not.

Upon return, a feast took place.

Tasting Korean barbecue was one of the mandatory items on our “to-do” list, although the word “taste” is not quite accurate. It’s better to experience it. You have to prepare this meal yourself to realize that you want to prepare more and more…

We were looking for a nice barbecue restaurant where we could eat decently, but in the end, we found something better – a local grandpa’s hidden gem. He seated us in a small room next to beer crate tables. The only sign on the wall announced in Korean the selection of various types of pork, so we chose something and waited to see what would happen next. Grandpa turned on the exhaust, brought hot charcoal to the grill on our table, started loading it with meat, rice, sauces, perilla leaves, and other condiments (banchan / 반찬), even brought scissors for cutting the meat… a miracle.

The traditional process is to grill the meat, cut it into smaller pieces, wrap it with sauce and condiments in a leaf, and then put it all in your mouth. Traditional, not mandatory, but still, we would recommend it because all the flavors mix wonderfully. The most common sauce is gochujang (red chili paste), and among the condiments, there might be garlic, kimchi, marinated radishes, sliced lotus root, etc.

There was plenty of food, and it tasted great, so we knew that we would repeat the whole experience at the nearest opportunity.

-endy-

DONKEY’S SPECIAL:

  • fulfilling a wish in three easy steps: get a lantern, write your wish on a piece of paper, hang it in the lantern, and voila… (if it doesn’t work, add step number four – repeat steps one to three)
  • the original statue of Discobolus (by sculptor Myron) is housed in the National Museum in Rome, and you can find the statue of David (by Michelangelo) in the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence (there is a replica of David’s statue in front of the Academy)
  • the selection of meat for Korean barbecue was random; Andy guessed a bit from the Korean signs what we ordered, but we still weren’t sure until the last moment

-mj-

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