Stumbling Toward Adventure
Well, I had an exciting and tiring Saturday, but I'm here to tell you all about it. I also have a ton of pictures to show you below this posting. I hope you enjoy!.....
The day started off by Rob and I skipping Korean lessons. Neither of us wanted to go, it was such a beautiful day, plus we are really learning Korean all week at work. The Korean teachers are always so eagar to teach us new phrases and words. So anyway, we headed to Starbucks for a coffee and to plan a bit of our day. So, our day began around 10:30am.
We decided to try and find this palace called Changdeokgung, we hadn't really heard much about it, but we saw it on a map close to this other palace that we had planned on meeting our friend Matt at later in the day. We thought we might as well check it out. Turned out to be pretty cool, lotsa tourists and tour busses there. This place was a "guided tour only" area, and when we got there around 12:30 the next English tour wasn't until 1:30 and we didn't want to wait that long, so we hopped in with a Korean tour beginning at 12:45. The man at the ticket gate was telling me (in Korean) that it was a Korean tour and that I should wait for the English tour, to which I replied "Ne, Hanguk" (yes, korean), and he let me through. Rob and I wanted to ditch our tour, but there were security guards everywhere. At one point we started wandering off and this security guard said something in Korean about guided tours. Rob quickly replied "toilet" and pointed in the direction of the bathroom and the guy let us go. I thought it was a genius call by Rob cause the bathroom was on the opposite side of the palace yard, so we could basically have our own self-guided tour and just pretend that we were looking for the bathroom. Playing dumb often works wonders! Anyway, we wandered around for a while, it was beautiful, many gardens....trees and flowers aren't things we usually see in Seoul, so it was nice. After a little while, we took some pictures and decided to leave and grab some lunch.
As we were walking toward Insadong (traditional area of Seoul that I have mentioned before), we stumbled upon a re-enactment of a royal wedding. That was pretty cool to see, we stayed for about an hour and then decided to go and explore some more. Outside of this area were some cops, a couple of busses full of them, who were out patrolling near the Japanese Embassay. Apparently there are always demonstrators protesting something that the Japanese are trying to do (or not do).
From there we headed to see another palace called Gyeongbokgung Palace which was built in 1395 by the founder of the Joseon Dynasty(a dynasty which lasted about 500 years until the Japanese occupation in the early 1900's). This palace was the primary residence of the Royal family at the time. It resembled the first palace we visited in architecture quite a bit, the first palace being the secondary residence of the royal family. Anyway, just as we arrived at this palace we were able to see the changing of the guard. It was pretty cool. These Korean guys dressed up in traditional clothing marched around the first courtyard beating a drum and carrying flags.
After visiting this palace, we decided to see if we could get upto Seoul Tower, one of the highest points in the city to catch the view at sunset. So we caught a cab up the hill, stumbled across a 100K race, and walked upto the top. The actual tower was closed for security renovations, which was a little disappointing, but we could still see quite a bit. We ended up sitting at a rooftop restaurant and watching the sun set over the city and the lights of the nightlife come on. It was quite beautiful. The city is so big from up there, it's incredible.
Anyway, it was a long day and I was exhausted. We headed back into the main part of the city and took the subway home.
We got some great pictures. Feel free to check them out.