Morning and Cor, Laura, and Joel left before we headed to the bus station. When we went to buy tickets it turned out there were no direct buses so we ended up waiting an hour and a half for a bus to Daejeon first. A huge, traffic jammed city of 1.3+ million, we were most happy to make connections quickly in their new, multi story bus station waiting just a half hour this time. It took the bus over 45 minutes just to get throught the traffic to the outskirts and then only another 45 to get to Gongju a town of 120, 000 noted for the historical past of the Baekgu kingdom which opposed and was finally defeated by the Silla which we learned about in Gyeongju.
--- Other Places to Visit in Gongju area
Getting off the bus we were immediately asked where we were going by a woman who had been on the bus with us. Bon explained that we were looking for a place to stay first before seeing the sites. After a bit of discussion it turned out she was a Korean/American who had just recently moved here to go into business with her sister. She offered to drive us to an area across the river and near the hotels/motels and within walking distance of the historic places we wanted to visit. Really nice gal...even went in to a motel (one very close to everything) snd spoke with the fellow about accommodations. We were a bit suspicious but in fact she was not related or had anything to do with this particular place, just doing us a favor! We said our goodbyes (she got a business card from the fellow, Yung San...his mother apparently owns the place, again, unrelated to the woman helping us - we never did learn her name).
Yun San offered and after looking at the room we accepted the 50, 000 ₩ room with Mari sleeping on a pad on the floor.
Our own bath w/ tub, TV, computer in the room, free wifi, towels, tooth brushes, razor...pretty much the works! After settling in there was still time (it was only 3:30) to see the castle area just a 15 minute walk away. At first we'd planned on seeing King Muryeong tomb but the directions we got led us to a site dedicated to Catholic martyrs (see photo explanation). We only discovered this after we climbed the hill and down again. The fortress remains turned out to be a very nice park walk with buildings reconstructed throughout.
___Info on Martyr Site
By 6 we were all quite hungry and I for one, was interested in BIG food! On the bus in we passed a Pizza Hut just down the street from the fortress.! Aha, we made a beeline and ended up having a great meal of pizza and salad bar. Not Koean salad either, a western style salad bar! My stomach left full and very satisfied for a change...I am not a lover of Korean food...mostly too spicy and/bland.
Walked the short distance to the explanitory museum of King Muryeong's tomb which very concisely and graphically gives the history of the area from Paleolithic and Neolithic ages through to Baekjae Ungjin era into the early days of Unified Shilla. No artifacts here only reproductions to enhance the explanations. A 10 minute video presents in English an overview of Gongju, kind of like a tourist promotional deal very professionally done complete with even projections of futuristic development of the area.
At this point Bonnie was approached by a very nice lady (65 it turns out) volunteer - 2 sons, one in California other in Australia. She took us under her charming guidance and gives us a tour of the place (museum and tomb) in English which she has taught herself. Kim Byoung Soom was smiling when Bon first encountered her and didn't stop smiling the whole time she was with us. Just a pleasure to be with and enjoy her enthusiasm for the subject matter!
Kim Byoung Soom showed, actually led us to the path which took us to the Gongju National Museum where we walked about for the next 2 hours seeing and learning about the 40, 000 actual artifacts (not all displayed) excavated from King Muryeong's tomb and other sites in the area. Fascinating and exceptionally well done with English and 2 other languages besides Korean.