We spent the very last day of our trip in the southern part of South Korea. I'd obviously never been there before because it was a long way out of my mission boundaries-- but it was GORGEOUS. From Seoul, it was about a four hour drive south to get there (which, to Koreans, is a ridiculously long amount of travel time by car-- for us Americans, it's a ridiculously short amount of time to drive across an entire country).
Our hosts surprised us with a luxury condo at a resort there the night before (easily the nicest place we slept during our trip). Our place overlooked the mountains in the distance. One entire side of condo was made up of windows that could be covered with thick, heavy drapes. The bathrooms were fully equipped with jacuzzi tubs and rain showers that were located next to the window-wall so you could look out at dream of all the magical creatures hiding in the mountain in the distance. (That's a pretty good step up from all the missionary apartments I once lived in). SO NICE.
We spent the day visiting the various historical sites around the city. It was rich with traditional Korean culture. Once upon a time the area was a high-functioning city during the time of the Silla Kingdom (which we got to learn a lot about as we toured Gyeongju). It was cool to see and learn about so many different aspects of Korea and its history that I was unfamiliar with. My favorite parts were hiking to the top of a mountain to see a very impressive part of the most beautiful Buddhist temples. I don't have pictures of it, seeing as it was a sacred place and they asked us to be respectful of that. But let's just say I genuinely considered becoming Buddhist after that experience.
This day felt kind of like a dream. Our bags were packed and we were ready to get on the plane, but it was our last-hurrah in Korea so we packed as much Korean culture in food into as we possibly could. It didn't even feel like real life. We ran from one place to the next, snapped pictures, ate some food, and ran some more. We did end up running into a bunch of missionaries enjoying their P-day at one of the Buddhist temples! That was fun. My mom snapped some pictures of them and sent them to their mothers (that's such a missionary mom thing to do). But we got to introduce them to our famous artist friend, and they thought that was pretty cool!
Everything in Gyeongju was so different from all that we experienced in Seoul. I was grateful that we had the chance to go, to learn, and to explore. It was the perfect "wrap up" to our trip.