Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Seoul City Transit Tour (Part I)

Sorry for not updating for a couple of days. Our apartment building management is in the process of installing new cable wiring for the entire building, so our Internet connection hasn't been the best lately. Hopefully they will be done by the end of this week or next, if not, I'll just go crazy with the Internet connection being disrupted every half an hour or so.

Alritey, back to the Korean Transit Tour. I guess you guys remember me blogging about Kevin and myself going on a Seoul City Tour while we were in transit on the way back to Malaysia last month. Our first stop was the Gyeongbokgung Palace in northern Seoul. It usually takes about 45 minutes (depending on traffic) or so to get from Incheon Airport to Seoul. It took us about an hour and a half cos we were caught in rush hour traffic. We arrived just in time to watch the changing of the guards ceremony in front of the Heungnyemun (the 2nd Inner Gate) Gate. I managed to record a short clip of the ceremony. Check out the above vid!
Here is a photo of Kevin and I in front of the Heungnyemun Gate, with the guards in full uniform behind us. There is a total of 3 main gates, with the Heungnyemun Gate being the second. The main outer gate (Gwanghwamun) is currently under reconstruction. When the Japanese invaded and took over the palace in the early 20th century, the palace was heavily destroyed. They even moved the Gwanghwamun Gate to another location. Today, the Korean government is still in the process of restoring the palace to it's former glory and one of the big projects is to move the Gwanghwamun Gate back to it's original location. So, for now....the Heungnyemun Gate is used as the main entrance to the palace.
There are many buildings in the palace grounds, each built with a specific purpose. Here is Kevin in front of Geunjeongjeon Hall. This is the throne hall, where the king formally granted audiences to his officials, gave declarations of national importance and greeted foreign envoys as well as ambassadors during the Joseon Dynasty. In 1985, this building was recognised as one of Korea's National Treasure. You can also see our tour group behind Kevin, with our tour guide holding the Korean flag :P
This is another one of Korea's National Treasure. The Gyeonghoeru Pavilion is a hall used to hold important and special state banquets during the Joseon Dynasty. Originally constructed in 1412, it was burned down during the Japanese invasions of Korea in 1592. The present building was constructed in 1867 on an island of an artificial, rectangular lake that is 128 m wide and 113 m across. Everything looked so beautiful and serene, with the frozen lake and lovely architecture. Please excuse my super red face. I was actually freezing my toes off, with the temperature hitting the below freezing mark that day. Very very cold day. Oh another piece of trivia. You can actually find the picture of Gyeonghoeru on a 10,000 won banknote. Just thought I should throw in that interesting fact :P
From the pavilion, we crossed over one of the three bridges and headed out to the National Folk Museum of Korea (which was just next to the palace). We didn't have time to go in but we just looked at various sculptures and decorations that was on the museum grounds. Here is Kevin posing with the sculptures of the twelve Zodiac animals. Yes, he was born in the year of the rabbit!!
Here is the main building of the National Folk Museum of Korea. The museum has three exhibition halls which illustrate 'The History of the Korean People' from pre-historic times to the end of the Joseon Dynasty in 1910, 'The Lifestyle of the Korean People' and 'The Lifecycle of a Korean from Birth to Death'. It also houses a children's museum and an outdoor exhibition. The museum was originally sited on Mt Namsan and was moved to Gyeongbokgung in 1975.
We had some time to just walk around the palace and museum grounds, just to enjoy beautiful scenery, amidst the crisp and cool winter air. Many people have mentioned that Korea is a very beautiful country and I totally agree with that. Everything we saw around the palace grounds looks like it's been taken out from a painting, it was so beautiful.

As much as we would love to spend more time just enjoying the palace, it was soon time for us to leave and head to our next destination - Insadong! Time to put on our walking shoes and head out to for some souvenir shopping. Stay tuned, I will blog more about that in my next post!

No comments: