My previous trip to South Korea, I spent a lot of time in Seoul, so this trip I only went once, namely to see a couple palaces that I hadn’t gotten a chance to see last trip. I definitely made the right choice last time though, because I happened to be able to see the Namdaemun Gate before it burned down. Sadly though they will rebuild the gate it will never be the original ever again. It was very cool and it’s pretty lame that some cranky old dude burned down a historical monument over a land dispute. Makes you wonder just how many ancient wonders have been destroyed by someone’s asinine personal interest and lack of vision. Anyway, I digress.
I took the train into Seoul and went into the Metro and found my way pretty easily to Changyeonggung, the first place I wanted to check out.
I had a good time walking around the various paths, snapping pictures and reading up on the history of the place. Did I mention I love history? I also wandered into a massive Go tournament that was being held in the park right out from of Changyeonggung and was mesmerized watching them for a bit. One thing I really love about the old Korean architecture is the way they paint up the eaves of the temples. All kinds of cool colors and an awesome visual texture created by the various timbers. I never get tired of looking at them and one of the neatest pics I have is in my other Korea blog from the Nine Dragon Temple. Check it!
Anyway, after this, I decided to walk the streets of Seoul over to Gyeongbokgung.
There was a little more activity over at this palace with guys dressed up in traditional outfits with replicas of old guard equipment. The place was pretty huge and magnificent and I spent a good deal of time wandering around this place as well. However, I got to experience one of the local phenomenons of the Korean peninsula while here (well China gets them too, but anyway.) My friends that have lived there for a few years had always spoken of the “yellow dust.” Apparently winds whip across the Gobi desert and pick up light sand dust forming massive clouds that then sweep across the sea and blanket the peninsula. They have many warnings about not doing activity that makes you breathe too hard (like jogging) and wearing masks.
Sure enough as I was walking around Gyeongbokgung the sky suddenly began to change and well, yeah, it was kind of a dirty yellow! Within 15 minutes or so, the place looked like it was blanketed in yellowish fog! If you look at some of the pictures I took you can see a bit of yellow haze in them.
I ended up pretty lucky because the dust cloud blew over Seoul in less than an hour and things were back to normal. However, now I have experienced the dust cloud and understand its true implications. Apparently sometimes it sticks around for days…that would be lame.