(NOTE: In case you’re wondering why I took down the post for a while before re-uploading, it was because I wanted to edit a few spelling errors on my phone but when I re-posted it, half of what I wrote went missing -.- Not sure if it’s the phone app problem or what since I didn’t touch those part. So I had to re-write them before posting this post again. Sigh.)
On this day, we explored the city area and started off from Gwanghwamun Station where we saw King Sejong statue before heading for Gyeongbokgung Palace. Unknown to us, that day (15 May) was King Sejong’s birthday. He was the creator of the Korean characters, Hangul, that we see today. No wonder there were so many kids in school uniform roaming about the Palace area. Before knowing it’s the King’s birthday, I was still thinking the Korean school was unexpectedly lax about attendance if so many kids are daringly (i.e. in school uniform) ditching lessons. Lol.
Gyeongbokgung Palace is one the many palaces in Seoul and it was constructed during the Joseon Dynasty.
Directions: Gwanghwamun Station, Exit 2. 5-10 mins walk from King Sejong statue (just follow the pathway and walk straight down)
The Palace entrance fee is 6000 won and if you are just planning to catch the changing of the guard ceremony, there’s no need to purchase a ticket. The ceremony is performed at the Gwanghwamun gate (right in front of the ticketing counter), easily accessible to the public. Also, do take note of the ceremony timings. Last I checked, it was performed at 10:00, 13:00 and 15:00. If you have the time to spare, do drop by to catch it! It was slightly reminiscing of the Korean drama in ancient times as the guards and their whole entourage are adorned in traditional Korean garb. Quite an enriching experience!
So because we didn’t want to wait for the free English tour at 11:00 and had absolutely no idea about the history of the Palace, we hung around one of the many English or Chinese-speaking tour groups to gain some sense of the Palace’s history. Hehe, so pardon me if my knowledge is kinda fragmented. I tried to supplement some of what I’ve learnt with information Gyeongbokgung sitemap. Okay, first off, the structure below (throne hall or Guenjeongjeon hall) is where important events take place such as the king’s coronation, meeting of foreign envoys etc.
These stone structures which align the pathway to the throne hall indicates the position where the different rank of officials will line up during official functions.
I’m entirely loving this repeated and vibrant pattern that adorn the roof of the building structure
The king’s throne…
the school for the children where they were taught the Korean characters which King Sejong created,
and opposite the above hall is the banquet hall (or the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion) where elaborate feasts were held for the foreign envoys or the court officials. The hall was designed as a rectangular structure in a circular compound as part of fengshui. I cannot remember clearly but I think a tour guide mentioned that a dragon (which symbolises fire) was place beneath the hall so that the water surrounding the hall can balance it. I’m not really sure but it’s all fengshui.
During the Joseon dynasty, the King and Queen had separate sleeping quarters, so below was where they met for some baby making session 😉
I think there was an exhibition or something going on so these vats, which would be filled with soy sauce in the past, were on display. Anyway, the royal kitchen had to make fresh vats of soy sauce daily and each vat had to be filled. There can be no decrease in the supply of soy sauce. They do take their sauce very seriously 🙂
We then ended the palace visit with Hywangwonji pond and Hwangwonjeong Pavilion.
So apparently if you’ve the ticket for the palace, you’ll gain free admission to the National Folk Museum. We didn’t have the time to go into the Museum but we past by these olden-style houses as we tried to find our way out. Lol. They were also many groups of students (from different schools) with props (balloons, flowers etc.) just to take a group-fie. I don’t even think it was their graduation ceremony or something similar! Such elaborate effort for a picture, lol, they really do take their picture very seriously, haha.
This trio of beautiful ladies were simply ambushed by tourists one after another wanting to take a picture with them in their beautiful hanboks. They don’t even appear to be working for the folk museum but were simply passer-bys roaming the streets. I could even tell that one of them (I think the one on the left) was becoming rather uncomfortable with the sudden horde of tourist wanting a picture after a while. It was literally one after another. Only the one in the middle appeared to be enjoying the rather impromptu photo session, lol.
Taegeukgi-gil (Korean-flag street) was developed on one Hyoja-dong’s street to mark the nation’s 70th anniversary and victory over Japan. There are 240 flags hung about the Hyoja-dong area, which will remain until the end of this year (i.e. 2015). If you’re heading to Toksochon for lunch or back to Gyeongbokgung Station, you’ll definitely pass by this street.
Directions: Located to the left of the palace compound when facing Gwanghwamun gate.
En route to Toksochon for lunch!
Directions: Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 2. Walk straight for 170m and turn left on Jahamun-ro 5-gil. Tokshochon is located on the left, 10m ahead.
The decor inside Tolsochon gave off a semi-homely feeling although the hustle and bustle of the servers sort of cancel it out 😂
At 15,000 won, the ginseng chicken meal was pretty reasonable. But, let me tell you now that I dislike and abhor anything ginseng. I cannot stand the smell nor the taste of it. But because my friend was pretty insistent on trying it, I just followed along. So, I basically just ate the rice (which was stuffed in the chicken) and the chicken meat, leaving out the most nutritious part, the soup 😅. Haha, I do like the rice and the meat because if I avoid the soup, there was almost no taste of ginseng on them (or at least it’s so mild I can’t detect it).
After lunch we headed to Bukchon Hanok Village to see the old houses there. Once you get out of the Anguk Station exit and walk straight ahead, there would be a tourist information centre located on the right. You’ll be able to grab a map that would showcase the key highlights of the village.
Directions: Anguk Station, Exit 3.
That’s Bukhasan in the background (which I hope I’ll be able to climb when I return to Korea someday 🙂 )
Cute little lettuces growing in the backyard of a random person’s home
So we walk past (what I believe is Insadong) to get back to Anguk Station, and I really like the place. It’s a good mix of cafe, clothes/make up shops and shops selling stationary or other interesting knick-knacks.
In the evening, my friend headed to Juno Hair Salon (Edae branch) to do her hair while I went ahead to explore Ehwa Womens University. Their campus was soo pretty although I was pretty glad that I didn’t study there. Haha. ‘Cause to get anywhere from their entrance, you’ve to climb steep stairs or slopes which will not help your case if you’re running late for class. Lol. Plus, since I’m studying life science now, I wanted to view their science campus (located right at the back of the school -.-). So I gave up walking there halfway as the sky was darkening pretty quickly. Also, I’m surprised to see quite a fair bit of students in stilettos running about slopes and stairs very quickly. All I could think about was: don’t their feet hurt? Or do they take the phrase: beauty is pain too seriously?!?!
Directions: Edae Station, Exit 2. Turn left and walk straight down. You’ll eventually be able to spot the campus.
A gorgeous view of the setting sun on campus! What a sight to end the day…Sigh~
The night streets of Edae.
Rushed back to Myeongdong at about 9pm for dakgalbi (marinated chicken) at Yoogane! They’ve so many branches around Seoul but this was the one we patronised.
Directions: Myeongdong Station, Exit 9. Go straight 50m and turn right at the first corner. Continue straight for 70m and turn left. Walk straight ahead and at a soft serve stall located on the right (at the first junction), turn right. The shop should be located on the left.
Till the next post, bye!