South Korea: Around Seoul & the Korean Folk Village

Seoul Travel Blog

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Seoul: Gyeongbok Palace: gate

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.

Seoul: Gyeongbok Palace: palace
The palace is fenced on all for sides with gates on each side. A unique feature that other palaces lack. Many of the buildings in the palace are restorations after being burned down during the Japanese Invasion in the 1800s. One of my favorite places in Gyeongbokgung is the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion.

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.

Seoul: Gyeongbok Palace: palace
Karen and I browsed through the museum admiring the hanboks, Korean traditional clothing, on display. Several displays show ceremonial outfits. One was a royal wedding ceremony - a scene I was familiar with from watching the popular Korean drama, "Goong" (also called "The Imperial Household"). Karen and I also was able to try the hanboks for free.

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.

Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace:
7 because all though there quite several 500 year old pine tree in Seoul or Korea - the white pine tree variety is rare. The outside walls of the main hall is made of huge, wooden lattice doors, decorated with paintings of the Buddha's life. Inside are several larger than life statue of Buddha. I opted not to go in and instead hovered by the door and took a minute to admire the statues inside. In front of the main hall is a seven-story pavilion and to the west is the Bell tower.

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.

Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace:
The Korean Folk Village is a compound that re-creates the old Korean-style village and way of life. Traditional Korean houses, food and shows are performed daily within the compound. We visited the village during their busy season as the month of October is a designated month for school children to visit cultural and educational venues. There were a lot of school children, all in different colors - according to their school and grades, I guess, throughout the Village. Although I felt that we may have stayed there a bit too long than I'd like - I was getting tired and wanted a nap after such a delicious lunch - I still enjoyed walking through the Village and learning the traditional Korean way of life 100 years ago.

On our way back to Seoul, as part of the tour, we stopped by an amethyst store.

Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace:
Amethyst is Korea's national stone. I wasn't interested in buying anything, so I took a quick look around to be polite, took their offer for tea, and went outside.

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.

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Seoul: Gyeongbok Palace: gate
Seoul: Gyeongbok Palace: gate
Seoul: Gyeongbok Palace: palace
Seoul: Gyeongbok Palace: palace
Seoul: Gyeongbok Palace: palace
Seoul: Gyeongbok Palace: palace
Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace:
Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace:
Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace:
Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace:
Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace:
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Seoul: The National Folk Museum of…
Seoul: The National Folk Museum o…
Seoul: The National Folk Museum of…
Seoul: The National Folk Museum o…
Seoul: The National Folk Museum of…
Seoul: The National Folk Museum o…
Seoul: The National Folk Museum of…
Seoul: The National Folk Museum o…
Seoul: The National Folk Museum of…
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photo by: chiyeh