Saturday, November 6, 2010

Korea Post #7: Gwanghwamun Square + Gyeongbokgung Palace (Must-See Places!)

I am always amazed at how a country is able to preserve its culture and heritage. What's more entertaining than a well-preserved site? LIVE-ACTION HISTORICAL SOLDIERS!!!

But before I get to our tour of the palace, we first headed over to Gwanghwamun Square to pay our respects to the founder of the Hangul language, King Sejong, and his companion, Lee Sun Sin, a soldier who won all his 23 battles using only 12 Korean ships against 133 Japanese ones (now that's what I call a great strategist!).
Just for fun, I took this photo of these 2 tourists:

There's a "Historical Flow" which is a chronological outline of historical events starting from the Joseon period until 2008 which literally flows with water. There are still a few blocks on the west part which are blank to be filled up in the future.
Since it was almost spring, a lot of flowers littered the square:
There's also an underground museum dedicated to King Sejong where you can get in for free and learn all about his vision and discovery of the Hangul language to unite the whole of Korea.
And of course this great shot of my dad (mimicking Lee Byung Hee of IRIS) in front of Lee Sun Sin. Rocking the gun out!!!

You can walk from the Square to the Palaces, but if you're lazy (like we were), you can also take a cab so you won't get lost. All in all, there are 4 Palaces, the Gyeongbukgong Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, and the Changgyeonggung or Gyeonghuigung Palace. Admission to the Deoksugung is only 1,000won while the rest are 3,000won (no idea why, maybe the former is smaller).

If you're pressed for time, I suggest going to only one palace, the Gyeongbukgong, because it served as the main palace during the Joseon dynasty. Being the main palace, it is also the grandest.
Here comes the...LIVE-ACTION HISTORICAL SOLDIERS! True to their form, they were very serious even if you try to take photo ops with them. I wonder how much they get paid? They even have real authentic ceremonies in front of the palace!
 These guys are suppose to be protecting something...I'm just not sure what it is.
Once you get inside, the pathway is littered with stone blocks with characters on them. Contrary to my belief that they're grave stones, they actually serve as signs for where the officials would stand during the procession of the King.
Plus more entryways:
The enormous throne room:
 The National Library is that pagoda-shaped building:
More scenic shots:

Like the Jewel in the Palace filming location, you can also try on costumes and do some photo ops! (Although in my opinion the costumes were cooler in the former.)
And the King's party pad, nobody parties better than he!

We then took the subway back to Myeongdong from Gyeongbukgong Palace because our flight was that night. Before going, we chanced upon this stall selling waffles and bought some.
These are so good! They're warm waffles smothered with chocolate cream inside. A lot of people were crowding around after we purchased ours. It was perfect after walking around in a cold day.

At the Incheon Airport, had my last meal of delicious bibimbap:

And took a discreet photo of cute ice cream cakes in Baskin Robbins: (yes I was shooed away but I bought a cone anyway).

That's it for my final entry on my Korean trip! I hope I encouraged you guys even a little to go to this amazing and beautiful country for vacation. I also hope I was able to give you suggestions on the places you can visit. I swear I would hop on the next plane so I can go back to Korea, I really fell in love with it.

If you have any questions or anything else, feel free to leave a comment!


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