Rape blossoms - victims of bad press
After Pusan, we headed north by bus to Gyeongju, the old capital of Korea. I guess it approximates to Nara in Japan - big open spaces and ancient tombs.
The intercity bus system in ROK was awesome. Lots of buses, cheap as dirt, comfortable seats. Could have used a bit more English guidance though, but that's just my inner colonial master speaking. Unless you get a special deal with trains, I recommend taking buses around the country. The only trouble is that there's no toilets on board, which can be an issue if your gut hasn't got used to Korean food yet. Add that to the fact that most public toilets don't have paper (you have to buy it or bring it) and you've got 2 squirmy tourists.
Although there is a bunch to do in Gyeongju, I reckon you can do it in one night if you're in a rush. We stayed at the cheap (30000W for 2ppl), central, comfy, friendly Sarangchae Guest House
, which was excellent.
Gyeongju was where it really became clear that Korea is only quite superficially like Japan. While Pusan was more Bangkok than Tokyo, Gyeongju was probably more Vientiane than Nara. Dusty, unpaved roads and shanty homes and stores with tattered posters. Sometimes I thought I could imagine what the North must look like.
Things were gearing up for Buddha's birthday the following Friday, so everything was colourfully decorated at the temples. This is Bulguksa in east Gyeongju.
For some reason in the centre of town there is a massive field of rape blossoms, blooming just in time for our trip, and kitted out for tourists! Check it out!