South Korea: Around Seoul & the Korean Folk Village
Seoul Travel Blog› entry 8 of 12 › view all entries
Karen and I decided to join a city tour after a couple of days on our own. We were picked up at our hostel along with about 6 other people. An old couple from Malaysia, a British aerospace engineer professor, and some Japanese couple. It was an interesting group. We first drove past the Blue House - Korea's version of U.S.'s White House - the residential house of Korea's president. It is called the Blue House, not because it is all blue, like the White House is a white-colored building, but rather it's roof is painted blue. Yeah, okay.
Driving past the Blue House, we headed next to Gyeongbokgung Palace. I don't know why they have to add the word "palace" after Gyeongbokgung, when the word "gung" already means palace! Gyeongbokgung was one of the main royal seats during the Joseon Dynasty for 500 years.
Situated by a pond, Gyeonghoeru Pavilion was built as a venue where the kings throw feasts for court officals, as well as foreign envoys. It was often used as a summer pavilion by the royals whereby they can pull the shades down from the high intense sun rays and pull the shades up to enjoy the summer breeze. A tranquil site to enjoy the changing of the seasons.
After touring the palace, we visited the Korean Folk Museum located within the walls of the palace.
The Buddhist Temple, Jogye-sa, was our next stop. Jogye-sa Temple is the headqurters of Korean's Buddhist Jyoge Order. It is the only major temple within the old city walls of Seoul. You are greeted by a 500-year old white pine tree as you enter the temple compound. It is Natural Monument No.
We found ourselves starving after walking around all morning. Included in the tour is lunch so they took us to a Korea restaurant in Itaewon where we had bulgogi for lunch. It was delicious!
We later picked up a couple in City Hall who will be joining us for the Korean Folk Village located 45 minutes outside of Seoul.
On our way back to Seoul, as part of the tour, we stopped by an amethyst store.
We asked to be dropped off by Namdaemun Market and there we entered a crowded marketplace saturated with fake designer bags, souvenirs, and what nots. It was dark by the time we were able to escape out of Namdaemun Market. As we headed back home, we decided to have lunch at this restaurant that we often passed by on our way to Insadong. It was traditional Korean restaurant where you have to seat on the floor, cross-legged, without anything to lean back on. We order several dishes, but my main entree was bibimbap. Karen ordered the vegetable mix. We also ordered some seafood pancakes and other things. When we got our bill, we were surprised that we only paid less than $20 for the both of us. It looked to be worth than the bill. The food was great and it was a pleasant surprise that the prices was even better! We headed to our hostel satisfied for a great meal and an enjoyable day.