Friday, March 9, 2012

The Valley of the Kings of South Korea

With its generous selection of important dead people buried in oversized tombs along the west bank of a river, walking around the necropoli of Gyeongju reminded me of Luxor's Valley of the Kings (and Queens - let's not be sexist, even though it was Egypt where that sort of thing is actively encouraged). It wasn't as good though, obviously. I knew when I toured Egypt that I'd peaked in terms of historical sightseeing, and it's all been a futile waste of my time and yours since then. Still, if it keeps me from Photoshopping my face onto Scott Bakula I'll take any excuse to get out.

I was surprised to see these Super Mario Worldesque mounds popping out of the ground when I arrived in Gyeongju, and even more surprised that no one seemed to be paying any attention to them, instead flocking to sites of negligible historical value that had briefly featured in some Korean TV drama or other. But at least this meant I'd get some clear photos to make up for my washed out photos of the similarly shaped Chocolate Hills in the Philippines.

It was probably around the time I reached the fifth set of identical, featureless mounds of turf that I realised why the Koreans aren't so enthusiastic. Still, they look quite nice at sunset.

Royal tombs of Gyeongju

Inappropriately cutesy characters welcome visitors to see the sites where they putrefied

Daeneungwon royal tombs

Bhongwangdae at sunset.
(Huh-huh-huh, 'bong')
(Huh-huh-huh, 'wang')

Noseo-ri tombs in the less attractive light of day

Five tombs complex of Silla

Sungdeokjeon shrine (1735) at five tombs complex

I don't think we need a translation here, that all seems perfectly MENTAL.

West bank

Hyeongsangang river from its good side

Tombs of Kim Yang (d.857) and Kim In-mun (d.694).
I spent a long time looking at these ones. For some reason. Mmm

Royal tomb of King Muyeorwang (d.661). You had to pay to get into this one, but I was already mound-fatigued by this point, so thought I'd subject you to lousy, foliage-obscured views taken sneakily over fences instead. Welcome aboard Dave's Luxury Tours!

Royal tomb of King Jinheung is somewhere in this picture

Seoak Seowon Confucian shrine academy (1571)

Sungmujeon shrine (1992). Yes, that 1992 - it's not just the Korean people whose age is impossible to determine, but their monuments too. They could have conceivably built their entire heritage in the 90s to trick gullible tourists and I'd be none the wiser

Tomb of General Kim Yu-sin (d.673).
The fence must make this a particularly special hemisphere of dirt

In the hunt for prestigious death, I forgot to take photos of the nice living world around me

Expecting someone? Nice try, Gyeongju, but I won't be dying today

oh! NO~


  1. The Postman Pat theme tune is a pretty good backing track for reading this post. If not for the intro (on the video), it would've been a really good length as well. Good choice!

    1. I bloody loved that programme. When I was about two I mean, not still. No.

      My parents mistakenly believed I preferred Thomas, judging by my Thomas-themed bed linen and wallpaper at the time. But something about that cosy, tranquil village of Greendale (I mean, whatever it was called, I wouldn't know) comforted me.

      Jesus, even when I was two I was already an old man.