Last year was hard and exhausting for everyone. That’s why when I was able to visit South Korea in December, I didn’t want to stress myself with too much planning.
I knew which cities I wanted to visit but I didn’t plan how long I’d be staying or even where I’d stay.
It was one of the very few spontaneous trips I’ve ever been on.
Originally, I planned to head up north again after my time in Jeju and Busan. However an increase in Covid cases, meant more restrictions in Seoul. As a result, I was looking into an alternative destination.
Few travel blogs mentioned Gyeongju, the old capital of the Silla kingdom. Silla along with Baekje and Goguryeo, formed the Three Kingdoms of Korea. I have to confess I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to Korean history but I’m curious. A UNESCO World Heritage site like Gyeongju seemed perfect to complement the hikes, food markets and walks I’ve experienced in South Korea.
I chose to stay in the south of the city centre where most of the historical sites are. It is slightly detached from the centre and looks very different. I felt like travelling back in time. The area was a hanok village in a way. It was quiet and serene, a real glimpse into ancient art and history.
I don’t think I have the words to express how I felt in Gyeongju. Instead, I’m sharing with you what to do and what to see via my lens, the lens of my phone to be more accurate.
Take it slow & soak up the vibes of Gyeongju
This is probably the highlight of my visit to Gyeongju, partly because I didn’t expect this part of the city to be boosting with cafes, restaurants and so much life.
My day would start by checking out some of the landmarks then I’d walk aimlessly just to admire the buildings, street art and to watch young couples queuing for food or tarot readings as you do.
If you’ve scrolled so far, thank you. I hope you enjoyed this photo essay. A lot of us can only virtually travel at the moment by looking at travel videos, photos and blogs. I hope these photos would cheer you up.
It is not surprise that Gyeongju is called the museum without walls. Just like a museum, there’s so much to learn in this city. It is like taking a trip back in time to relive in the Silla period. And just like a museum, you need to slow down, take your time and pay attention to the details.
Over the past 8 years or so, I travel during Christmas time through the new year, usually to faraway destinations.
December 2017, I went to Sri Lanka. It was my first time in the country and my first time in Southeast Asia. I did the more or less classic itinerary, starting from Colombo to Sigiriya, then down to Kandy, Hill Country, Yala national park and ending my trip in beautiful Galle.
In Sigiriya, I hiked the Sigiriya rock, I saw temples in Kandy, elephants in Yala and enjoyed the sea at Galle.
One thing was consistent throughout the trip: Tuk-tuks. They were everyone. According to this article published on the UN environment website in 2019, There are around one million tuk-tuks in Sri Lanka loved (maybe?) and used by locals and visitors alike.
Here’s a little confession: I’ve never been in a tuk-tuk, not in Sri Lanka, not anywhere else. I was travelling Sri Lanka by car. But this didn’t stop me from noticing the tuk-tuks.
I was on foot outside my guesthouse the first time I noticed the funny slogan on the back of the tuk-tuk. I took a photo to share on Instagram. Then I saw another and another…Before I knew it, I was playing a game of spot the tuk-tuks. That’s how I ended up with this selection of photos I’m sharing with you.
Like all of my travel photos, these bring good memories back and make me smile. Now that I’m older and with some more trips under my belt, I would’ve done things differently in Sri Lanka. I would’ve ride tuk-tuks and embraced more of the country’s chaos.
Writing about travel while under lockdown is making me beyond grateful. I'm grateful I explored the world when it was possible. I'm glad I stepped outside of my comfort zone and let my curiosity lead the way. Life is unpredictable. Who would've predicted that we would spend months at home unable to leave our own houses. Stay safe everyone! Here's to a better times when we can travel and ride tuk-tuks again.