The hills, I mean tombs, of GyeongJu

1/125, f/8, ISO 100

Five am ferry back to Pohang. Another Family Mart breakfast. Many yawns, many stares. Arriving back in Pohang, we loaded our scooters back up and this time covered our bags with rain jackets from the beginning. Too many stained and rained on clothes this weekend.

Less than an hour later we were back in GyeonJu and decided to do a bit of sight-seeing in this ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty.

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The sun came out and we sweat through our clothes while strolling around the tombs and gardens in the center of GyeongJu. This was Julie‘s first time and my first time in the summer- I went in 2006 in the fall, but the gardens were not nearly as impressive as they were this time.

We stumbled upon a maze of incredibly beautiful, oversized lilly pads and flowers bursting along the side of the road. We saw another foreigner and had our first conversation in English for days (besides with each other, obviously). Took a few levitation photos. Sweat more. Burned more. Craved the wind of the road to cure us of our bodily stench!

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Another ten or so kilometers down the road towards Busan, is the Bulguksa Temple, a world heritage site by UNESCO.  After strolling through the temple walls, drinking water from frozen water bottles, wetting our bandanas to cool off our necks, the rain started. (Uh oh!) We made a mad dash back to the bikes, covered our scooters and took cover in the closest restaurant possible, just across the street.

We watched the rain pour down through the restaurant windows, getting stronger, clouds getting darker. The owner of the restaurant was an incredibly kind woman who, after being impressed by our Korean speaking skills, gave us Dotori “servi-suh” (free!) and a discount on our dolsot bibimbaps. She then informed us that her daughter lived in Brazil for a year. Sydney, Brazil. Ummm… What she had in sweetness, she lacked in her world geography, I’m thinking.

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Worried about another freezing drive in the pouring rain and biting wind, we gave the weather an ultimatum: Dry up and bring out the sun in the next ten minutes or we’re sleeping in GyeongJu. And then, it did. The sun reflected off the pools of rain on the side of the road and we took advantage. Ran back to our bikes and got the hell out of GyeongJu before the 6pm thunderstorms would begin, as predicted by the weather app on my phone.

An hour down the road, nearing the cursed Ulsan, the rain began. Again. Rain jackets back on, soaking shoes, low visibility through clouded-over glasses, we were pros at this by now. And so, we ended the trip the same way it started. Rain rain rain. All the way to Busan.

In hindsight, it may have been slightly foolish to drive nearly 200k on a scooter in the rain, twice. But a very wise person once told me “never say no to adventure.” Only regret was leaving my rain boots behind.