A Self-Date at Anapji Pond

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(Wait until you see the night time picture.)

There’s a saying in Korea: 방꼭. It sounds like the Thai capital of Bangkok and so sometimes you hear people say they went to Bangkok when what they meant was that they had stayed in their room (방) for a long time (꼭, roughly meaning “always”).

With everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) shut down for the Lunar New Year holiday (설날), it’s all I’ve been doing. So I broke out of Bangkok by visiting one of my favorite cities in Korea, Gyeongju, to finish my list of sites I wanted to see.

I went to see Anapji Pond at night. Everyone raves about Anapji Pond at night, I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

I decided to go alone. I promised myself self-dates and it’s been fun. I’ve really been relaxing into my single status and just embracing it. I brought my ukulele thinking I could pull up a patch of grass at Anapji and put in some practice. I also grabbed kimbap from the train station for dinner. (Kimbap is easily one of my favorite things in Korea, but for the love of God, do not buy any at the train station or bus station. It’s serviceable but the lady gave me pre-made kimbap instead of making it fresh in front of my eyes and that’s never a good sign.)

I took the train as I usually do, then got a sticky note of bus numbers from the tourist information center. It wasn’t too far, but I was glad I didn’t try walking.

I had come in time to watch the sky darken into night. The sunset itself was obstructed, but I was treated to the slow burn of Anapji’s transformation.

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(This is why I travel. It’s the universe asking us to stop and be present.)

The mix of modern (the lights) and the ultra traditional (the viewing pavilions) really make this site sing.

I thought the place was going to be like a park, but none of the tourists were eating. I became unsure about whether it was allowed or not. I saw vending machines and public trash cans (already a rare sight in Korea) so it wasn’t impossible. Nevertheless, I got self conscious and would surreptitiously stuff my face with kimbap. Most of the other tourists seemed to merely be passing through, stopping at this spot to take a picture or two then moving on. I sat on one of the benches to watch the sky change.

Playing the ukulele was even more impossible. It got cold enough to be a bad idea.

I enjoyed myself anyway. I bought Gyeongju bread on the way back and sang along to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” on the bus back to the train station. It’s one of my ukulele songs.

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