KTO Annyeonghaseyo Spring 2016 FAM Trip - Part 1: Gyeongju
Annyeonghaseyo everyone! How are you? We hope you are doing fine whenever you are! We are back with our new travelogue entry! Excited to know where we headed to this time? Keep on reading this entry to know the details, okay? ^^
Recently, Korea Tourism Organization (Malaysia) together with Air Asia X have organized a Familiarization (FAM) trip with selected travel agencies from Malaysia.
The purpose of the FAM Trip was to get together with the local travel agencies to experience the Spring season as well as the attractions in Gyeongsangbuk-do areas.
The areas that we covered in Gyeongsangbuk-do were Gyeongju, Daegu, Mungyeong, Andong and Yeongju including Cheoram which is located in Taebaek, Gangwon-do as well as some locations in Seoul. Nevertheless, our main focus for this trip was the Gyeongsangbuk-do areas.
Excited to know more? Keep on scrolling this entry until the end please! ^^
GO!GO!GO! LET'S GO!
Look at the cabin packed with people! And YAY There were stories about Korea in Air Asia’s Travel 3Sixty (April 2016) inflight magazine!
On the night of our departure, the flight schedule was from Kuala Lumpur to Busan. Since we were going to explore the Gyeongsangbuk-do areas, entering Korea through Busan would be the right choice since it is nearer compare to if you enter through Incheon (Seoul). By the way, a big thanks to Air Asia X for sponsoring our flight tickets! *bow* Our flight that night was super full! And we thought that it must be because of the SPRING season in Korea! ^^
WE HAVE ARRIVED IN BUSAN!
Our super excited faces! Little did Jay (with tie) know that we will be a nightmare to him for the whole trip! ;p
We arrived at Gimhae International Airport in Busan at early in the morning. After settled with the immigration and collected our luggage, we then met our local tour guide named Yoon Jong Hyun (his English name is Jay) at the arrival hall. He is from a local travel agency called TourSeoulKorea (TSK). Without further ado, we directly took the coach bus and went to Gyeongju.
GYEONGJU: THE GOLDEN CITY!
The journey to Gyeongju took us about 1 hour of journey from Busan. Once we arrived there, we were amazed by the view of cherry blossom flowers! The flowers were fully bloomed and were lined up beautifully at the side of the road! Since we had more time before the official lunch, Jay (our tour guide) decided to let us enjoyed the scenery by dropping us at an area near to the lunch venue. It was near to Bomun Lake and for your information Bomun Lake is a must place to go if you want to enjoy the beautiful spring flowers! We were blessed with nice sunny weather and clear sky too!
Beautiful spring view of Bomun Lake!
Such a breath-taking view!
Look at how excited we were!
After we had a blast time taking millionth of selfies with the flowers and cups of Americano from the nearby Starbucks, we then proceed to the official lunch venue which was held at the Hilton Wooyang Museum. The lunch gathering was invited by the Gyeongsangbuk-do Tourism Corporation (GTC) where VIPs from GTC as well as a representative from Korea Tourism Organization (HQ) and also travel agents from other countries were present as well. The purpose of the lunch was to welcome all delegates to Gyeongju as well as to intro about Gyeongsangbuk-do to the audience. It was also in conjunction of the Gyeongju Cherry Blossom 2016 Marathon which was scheduled to happen on the next day.
Welcome speech by Mr Kim Dae You, President of Gyeongbuk Tourism Corporation (GTC)
Speech by Mr Kang Sung Ghil, Executive Director from KTO
Toast speech by Mr Munning Jamaludin, Vice President of Pacesetters Athletic Club, Malaysia
Mouth-watering meals were served by Hilton Gyeongju
We directly proceed to visit our first destination in Gyeongju which was the Yangdong Folk Village. It took us for about 30 minutes of bus journey from the lunch venue. The village is the largest traditional village in Korea. We got to see the wealth of cultural heritages and scenic surroundings including the Mt. Seolchangsan and the 45 homes aged over 200 years old that have been preserved in their original state. It is a rare opportunity to view nowadays. Some families are still living in the village until today too. Wow.
We then moved on to our next destination which was the Cheomseongdae Observatory. The moment we arrived at the destination, we were mesmerized by the yellow-coloured canola flowers field. For those who don’t know, it is also known as the rapeseed flowers. Unable to control our excited feelings, we took the chance to preserved the gorgeous scenery through our camera lenses. Stood proudly in the middle of the land is the Cheomseongdae Observatory. According to our tour guide, the Cheomseongdae is the oldest existing astronomical observatory in Asia and there are 362 stones were used to build it! Those stones were actually represented the 362 days in the lunar year. We were shocked when we got to know that the observatory form has never been replaced or changed at all since it was built. Talking about years of originality! Phew!
Field of beautiful canola flowers at Cheomseongdae
From the Cheomseongdae Observatory, we walked to our next destination since it was just nearby. Along the way, we enjoyed the spring view and cold breeze while walking slowly to the location. We saw a local couple wearing traditional Hanbok in the public and even tried on the local ice cream which was really good! After about 5 minutes of walking, we then arrived at the front gate of our target location. It was the Daereungwon Tomb Complex where the large ancient tombs of Kings and nobles of the Silla Kingdom are being kept. The most famous tomb would be the Cheonmachong. We even went inside the tomb where we got to see the remains and royal crowns which demonstrated the lavish lifestyle of the King. A local staff who is an expert about the area explained to us on the history of the tombs and details about the Silla Kingdom. According to her, the size of the tomb represented the status which means the bigger the hill, the higher status the person was. Some of the tombs were unrecognizable as well and left to be nameless. Don’t be surprise if you see a lot of hills-looking land while you are in this area, okay? ^^
Since it was close to the night time, we quickly proceed to our next destination which was the Gyochon Traditional Village. Mind you that it is best to visit the village before 5:00pm in the evening to experience the local activities offered at the village. When we arrived there, the activity shops were already closed. However, we can still looked around the village which is famous for the Choi clan. Some of the Hanoks have been upgraded as restaurants and experience centre. If you happen to be here, don’t forget to try the Gyeongju Gyodong Beopju Liquor (non-Muslims) and the traditional glass creation experience!
The night has turned colder and we were hungry for dinner. To fulfil our hunger, we went to a restaurant called Bomun Hoban Ori (보문호반오리) which is popular with Marinated Duck and Mushroom BBQ menu. For duck meat lovers, you will definitely love this! And for those who never tried or not a fan of the duck meat, you should give the awesome meal a try! You will completely be charmed by it like we did! However, if you can’t take it, there are other options of menu that you can choose from where it will be featuring the variety of mushrooms and vegetables! The price was also reasonable!
Address: 504-14 Gyeonggam-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea
Google Map: Click HERE
After the hearty dinner, we proceed to our last venue for the day. Located at Gyeongju World Expo building, a performance show called Silla: Basilla was a show that we thought a must watch for tourists to Gyeongju! With glamorous stage props, colourful lighting and spectacular music, the show will definitely worth to watch! All of the characters were portrayed using only silent movements where it will be easier for the audience to understand the performance contents! The show was about a love story between a Persian prince and the Silla princess which also included the elements of culture from both sides. Furthermore, the actors, actresses and dancers were all so good looking and were awesome in portraying their characters!
Finally, we ended our first day at Gyeongju Hyundai Resort!
GYEONGJU HYUNDAI RESORT
Address: 477-2 Sinpyeong-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea
Website: Click HERE
We started our second day in Gyeongju at a very early morning. It was because we were participated in the Gyeongju Cherry Blossom 2016 Marathon! For most of us, it was our first time entering a marathon event outside of Malaysia! Once we arrived at the event venue, it was already packed with participants from all over the world! It was easy to get lost in the crowd if we didn’t stick together in a group! All of us joined the 5km of walking while one of our member tried the 21km half course. And we were also grateful to meet the President of KTO, Mr Chung Chang Soo as he was there as well! Since the weather was super nice with cold wind and beautiful cherry blossom flowers along the race course, we didn’t feel like we were in a marathon event at all! Plus, all of us were given the medal as a token for participating in the event. Nevertheless, all of us felt proud to apart of the event. For full story on this, you can click HERE.
After the marathon event, we were stuck in the traffic jammed for about 2 hours due to the traffic control by the authority. Our hotel was about less than 10 minutes from the venue but due to the traffic, it took us longer than usual. We freshen up ourselves and then proceed to our lunch which was at Neul Bom (늘봄).
Address: South Korea, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, Seonggeon-dong, Gangbyeon-ro, 339-1
Phone: +82 54-773-3692
Google Map: Click HERE
We then proceed to our next destination which was the Bulguksa Temple. To our surprise, they were many people visited the temple on the day that we were there. Designated as the World Cultural Asset by UNESCO in 1995, the beauty of the artistic touch of the stone relics are known throughout the world. The place seems to be peaceful and calm with the nature surrounding the temple.
After visited the Bulguksa Temple, we headed back to the Gyeongju City for the Shilla Millennium Park. It took us longer than usual due to the bad traffic condition. We couldn’t make it for the performance time which was the highlight of the park. However, since we were already there, we continued to check out the park. If you would like to know about the culture and history of the Shilla Dynasty, then this would be the place that you have to visit! Besides that, there is also an outdoor set that was used for the famous Korean drama, Queen Seondeok too! We strongly advise you to visit here before the performance time so that you can enjoy the park to the fullest! Click HERE to check on the performance schedule!
We drop by at Gyeongju World Amusement Park to check out the place. And being the largest theme park in the Southern area makes it a great place to go if you are in Gyeongju. We met the Manager of the theme park, Mr Kim where he showed us around and even let some of us tried the ‘Phyton’ roller coaster! We wished we could spent more time there though! ;(
For the dinner, we went to ‘Dubu Maeul’ (두부마을), a restaurant which is specialized in preparing ‘Dubu’ or Tofu. The name also speaks for itself. The restaurant served food based on tofu. It also comes with a pot of stew mixed of seafood and tofu. All of the food served were delicious especially the Dubu Patty!
Address: Ma-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea
Google Map: Click HERE
After dinner, we then directly proceed to Anapji Pond, a beautiful place to go for a night view in Gyeongju. There were really a lot of tourists, be it the locals or foreigners when we were there! According to the history, the pond was originally built in Wolseung Fortress. However, the fortress was destroyed. Thanks to the findings of the large spherical shapes which indicated that there were 3 islands had been located in the pond, the former glory of Anapji Pond has been restored. And yes, because of the findings, we got to see the beautiful view in this generation too! For photographers, this place should be in your list for your camera shot!
We then went back to our hotel and rest for the day. It was our last night in Gyeongju and we will definitely cherished the memories that we made here <3
All photos are copyrighted and belongs to Korea Tourism Organization (Malaysia).