Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Weekend Among the Cherry Blossoms (and rain)

A few weeks back, Ellen and I decided to sign up for a cherry blossom bike ride. We thought "How cool! A bike ride around a lake through lots of cherry blossoms! What a great idea!" So we paid our deposit, made our coworker, Sara, and our other friend Melissa come with us, and waited the few weeks till the trees were in bloom. As time grew closer to the ride, we started to get worried. The weather hasn't been warm much yet this spring (maybe like 2 days) and we were hoping that this hadn't stopped the trees from blooming. On top of that, we chose the weekend it was supposed to rain. Originally we were supposed to ride bikes on Saturday and then do cool touristy things on Sunday. However because of the forecast, our schedule got switched. Bright and early Saturday morning, we wandered in the rain to the subway station, took a 40 minute subway to where we'd catch the bus, and then took what was supposed to be a 3 and a half hour bus ride 5 hours until we arrived in Gyeongju. The fortunate thing was that I actually was able to sleep on the bus since I had my own row to myself and this helped the time fly by. Saturday we actually spent a lot of time on the bus because it was so rainy. We did, however, make it to a temple with a really cool stone buddah that you're not supposed to take pictures of, a beach with a island tomb, another temple, some other tombs, our hotel, dinner, and a really cool night time rain walk.

The stone temple buddha thing was actually quite amazing and, so they say, an astonishing feat that happened waaaaay back when, and apparently even doing so today would have been astonishing. They apparently didn't have the math for it back then or something (not quite sure, sorry, but it was REALLY cool looking). The walk to the buddha itself was cool in all the misty fog with colorful lamps.
Those stones you see in the top right corner are what has preserved this cool stone buddha for many many years. He lives under it underground!

The beach would have been REALLY nice to hang out at if it was a sunny day. However since it was raining, we weren't there for very long; we ran out, went to the bathroom, bought some snacks, took a picture, and were on our  merry way.
That's the island with some tomb on it...and Koreans running away from the ocean water. 

We went to another temple, which was really cool and had some special monk crystal or something (again, sorry, I wasn't paying too much attention) The temple itself was pretty with many cherry blossoms, a creek, and a little pond or two. My second favorite temple I've been to while in Korea.

Our first trip was some tombs (which I've learned at this point just means mounds of dirt...). Again, these looked really cool with the fog pouring all around them.

Dinner was less than satisfying but the soju helped the rest of the night move riiiiiiight along. We ended up splitting from the group to walk along the cherry blossoms that were lit up, in search of this pond with a giant Pocahontas type willow. The lit cherry blossoms were quite cool! Although the path was very very VERY wet and I'm pretty sure my shoes (fuggs) are now ruined. It's ok, one less thing to take home in October. We finally got to the pond...paid our dollar to get in, and found the GRAAAAAAND willow. As I said to a friend later that night in my response to the grand willow....What's better than seeing the grand willow, you might ask? The grand willow at night. What's better than seeing the grand willow at night, you might ask? The grand willow at night in the rain. What's better than seeing the grand will at night in the rain, you might ask? The grand willow at night in the rain after having some soju (yes soju makes many things much more the ladies walking around in high heels and short skirts and the insane amount of couples). Just to give you a quick comparison, here is a picture of the willow from Pocahontas:
She's HUGE 
And she has  FACE and CAN TALK!

So naturally my hopes were really high. However, we finally found the GRAAAAND willow and this is what it looked like:

Don't get me wrong. I sound very cynical right now. However we did enjoy every bit of this rainy journey on Friday. It's all about these experiences we have, and who we have them with. Saturday was nothing but a good time (although much of it felt very sleepy) and it was followed by an even better time on Sunday.

Sunday we wake up, eat a muffin, have some coffee, look at the snow that fell overnight. And prepare to freeze our asses off on our bikes. We get to the bike shop, buy some cotton gardening gloves, and load up on our adorable cruiser bikes (I've always wanted to ride one!) Let me just inform you of how many layers I was wearing; a tank top, a long sleeve shirt, my fleece, my snow coat, and my rain jacket on top. All of this kept me very warm though,and I thoroughly enjoyed the bike ride. The clouds would come and go, it wasn't too cold (with those layers) and we saw some beautiful sites, and most of all, got to get out of Seoul, into the fresh air, a little sun, nature, and be HAPPY! Again we decided to split from the group. We ended up riding around the whole lake (which we were the only 4 to do so) and then stopped for some lunch and rode back to the bike shop. We strolled around the market a bit and then sat and enjoyed the sun until it was time for the bus ride back. 

All in all it was a fantastic weekend away, a great bike ride, and beautiful sights! Here are some for the road...enjoy :) 
Cherry blossoms lit up at night. 

Cool tower thing with rainy puddle reflection!

Me among many cherry blossoms (our first mass cherry blossom experience) on day one, very RAINY day. 

Bike ride day....cherry blossom in the back, snow on the car...

My bike! Cuuuute.

Selife...and I got Sara in the background (totally not safe)

Some coliseum back there. 

Right outside of where we had lunch. 

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