Rubber Ducky, you're the one!
photo courtesy of Ondong Kim
After a wonderful morning seeing ancient tombs, a beautiful observatory, dressing up in traditional clothes, and walking through gardens and fields that went on for miles it was suddenly lunch time. I expected to have to board the bus again and venture 20 minutes or so to our next destination. Instead, I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover not only was the restaurant directly across the street, but the food was already presented on a giant table in a private room. Lunch at Guro Ssambab was starting out right!
"A unique part of Korean cuisine, ssambap (쌈밥) is a rice dish served with a variety of vegetable leaves, meat, and side dishes. Rice is wrapped inside a vegetable leaf with meat and topped with condiments. Though ssambap is readily available in many regions, Gyeongju ssambap is characterized by the number and variety of side dishes. Using seasonal ingredients, the servings are always fresh and plentiful. Dozens of ssambap restaurants are located along the road near Daereungwon.
Price: 9,000~10,000 won per person." -VisitKorea
We learned a few key Korean phrases before digging in.
Above 3 photos courtesy of Ondong Kim
We learned to say some traditional phrases before diving into the food. There were hamburgers patties, pork dishes, famous Gyeongju Bread (ppang - they're like mini pancakes filled with red bean paste), fish, tons of pickled vegetables, mushrooms and peppers in what appeared to be a thick plum sauce, and a variety of other dishes to mix with our rice and pop into a lettuce wrap. It was nice to finally sit down with the group and learn more about the Koreans and foreigners with whom we were spending our day.
I really couldn't figure out why they had listed Starbucks on the Trip Schedule until we actually arrived. This was a rest stop beyond my wildest expectations. There was a 3-storey Starbucks with beautiful furniture and a top floor balcony overlooking a stunning lake vista. There was also a Colosseum that seemed to be dedicated entirely to Cafe Bene. I could spot a large rubber-ducky looking thing in the water, so we had to run down to the "beach" to check it out.
Can you believe it? We even got gourmet Macarons as part of our trip!
We had a wicked time relaxing and taking in the view while getting a little silly with our hosts. This was the perfect rest stop to really prepare for what came next: Bulguksa Temple.
*Remember when I said this was a 3-part series? Sue me - I have too many pictures.
** Please don't sue me...