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Snapshots from Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace

9 Jul

It might have been ages since I went to South Korea but as I was browsing through my folders of photos and unpublished entries, I realised that I wasn’t able to post this yet. I felt that I still should show them to you because I liked this place. Like the other places  of interest we visited in South Korea, we did not spend that much time here so my documentation is incomplete. Nevertheless, please indulge me 🙂

Gyeongbokgung Palace is right beside the National Folk Museum of Korea so we did not enter by the main gate. It was kind of unfortunate since I was looking forward to seeing the changing of guards. Anyway, there’s always a next time, right? I’m not sure which gate we entered but it was not far from the Queen’s Quarters.

Located in northern Seoul, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the main and largest palace built by the Joseon Dynasty. It was really awesome walking at the palace grounds seeing the different buildings and rooms with its intricate designs (where around 40% were restored to its original state after being nearly destroyed by the Japanese) and knowing that this ancient glory is actually right in the middle of a vibrant and modern city.

Here are some of the photos I took… Please enjoy and be transported to South Korea’s Joseon Dynasty…

how colourful and unique is this roof !

beautiful buildings

Gyotaejeon – The Queen’s Quarters

Gyeonghoeru – Royal Banquet Hall

Geunjeongjeon – Throne Hall

King’s throne in the center

courtyard

Geunjeongmun – the main gate to the courtyard and Geunjeongjeon (Throne Hall)

Gyeongbokgung Palace is right within the city, a perfect mix of the old and the new.

Palace grounds

outside the palace… and some random Han River pictures (taken from the bus ;))

If ever I go back to Seoul, I will definitely revisit Gyeongbokgung Palace and explore more of the history behind the buildings and the palace itself. My friends and sister have been here and I know there is also a place within the palace grounds where you can “borrow” a hanbok (traditional Korean dress) for that most memorable photo opportunity!

Gyeongbokgung Palace is definitely a must-visit in Seoul, especially if you’re into history and culture or just a plain Korean drama fangirl 🙂 I think there are quite a few sageuk (historical dramas/ plays) shot here.

Aside from shopping, what do you look for and are eager to experience when you travel to a foreign country? Care to share?

Hope you all have a good Monday!

Cheers 🙂

Snapshots from Seoul: The National Folk Museum of Korea

30 Apr

One of the places we (our tour group) visited when I went to Seoul is The National Folk Museum of Korea. Located in the heart of Seoul and right next to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the national museum features over 98,000 artifacts and comprises of three exhibition halls.

According to the website,the Three Exhibition Halls are:

“1.) History of Korean People – which displays the representative materials of everyday life and customs in Korea from prehistoric to modern times.

“2.) The Korean Way of Life – which illustrates how Korean life of the Joseon period (1392-1910) revolved around the cycles of nature central to an agricultural society.

“3.) Life Cycle of Koreans – which traces the  major events in the life of  a Korean born into the upper class of Joseon (1392-1910)  society.”

Credits to The National Folk Museum of Korea website that can be accessed here.

The National Folk Museum of Korea also holds open-air exhibitions and special classes such as traditional crafts workshop and traditional music and dance for foreign visitors. There is also a Donation Hall to recognise those who have donated family heirlooms permanently to the museum as well as a souvenir shop where you can find books, replicas, artwork, fans, magnets, pens, and the list goes on…

Here are some of the photos I took. Apologies for the picture quality as camera flash is not allowed inside the museum halls. Please click the photos to enlarge 😉

The National Folk Museum Building

entrance

(I’m sorry I can’t remember the name of the mountain ;))

another side

Clothes worn on 1st birthday (yellow and red hanbok for boy and girl, respectively)

Wedding Ceremony

Bridal Palanquin

I’m not too sure if it’s a funeral pyre. (sorry!)

Clothes and Head dress depending on position in society

Another set of clothes and head dress

Throne Hall at Gyeongbokgung Palace

I don’t have a lot of pictures because I forgot to take them as I read and looked through the displays.

I love museums and I am always fascinated by learning more about the history, culture and way of life of a certain place, country, group of people, etc.  What is also so awesome was the fact that the things I used to just see in historical Korean dramas were right before my very eyes.

It was also cool to be allowed to take pictures inside the museum 🙂 I hope you enjoyed looking through the pictures albeit not really complete and comprehensive (some pictures have my face :). My last “Snapshots from Seoul” entry is coming up… Guess what it will be about? 😉

Do you enjoy getting lost and immersed in museum exhibits? What’s your favourite museum? Care to share?

Cheers 🙂

Snapshots from Seoul: Hotel Rooms

16 Apr

I only stayed in Seoul/ South Korea for four days but I have stayed in two hotels. I don’t really know why our travel agency booked us that way.

Anyway, we stayed at Lone Star Hotel on the first two nights. I wasn’t really expecting much from our accommodation since I didn’t pay a premium for the package tour. Lone Star Hote is a small, cozy hotel (if I’m not mistaken there’s no onsite restaurant as we always had breakfast outside the hotel) near Dongdaemun.  A little corner in the lobby can be found which has complimentary coffee, tea, bananas, and fruit juice. The hotel was also nearby many convenience stores – 7-11, Mini-stop and GS25, restaurants, cafes, shops, drugstores, and tent restaurants (too bad I wasn’t able to try it).

I was surprised at how everything in my room was big – the bed, the floor area, tv, bath tub (I think it was a Jacuzzi that can fit two persons) and bathroom. I didn’t feel scared even though I was alone (I sometimes get paranoid staying at hotel rooms by myself), I even opened the windows just to balance the hot air emanating from the heater 🙂

Although there was no WiFi available, each room (I think) has a computer with internet connection which you can use for free. There were also  a small fridge, huge TV and DVD player including free bottles of water, coffee and tea, and toiletries in the bathroom. Of course, I had fun playing  using the automatic toilet seat 😀

There was no flourescent lamp in my room though so it was a little dim. But I liked the red lamps and lips wallpaper by the bed. Don’t you think my room looks a little like a honeymoon room? 😉

On our last day, we moved to a different hotel (outside Seoul). Business Hotel Jewelry is located in Gyeonggi-do. I did not really see much of the hotel or its nearby attractions or shops. Visit Korea in its website mentioned that, “Business Hotel Jewelry is close to Everland, Korean Folk Village, Gyeonggi Korean Traditional Music Center, and is only a 2-minute walk to Nam June Paik Art Center, and the Gyeonggi Provincial Museum. The Osancheon Stream also flows right in front of the hotel and is a good place to jog, walk, cycle and enjoy other sports activities.”

My hotel room was also big but not as chic-looking as the first one.

The room amenities at Business Jewelry Hotel are similar to the Lone Star Hotel Seoul – the TV, computer, bathroom, and toiletries, except for a couch and the cold/hot water dispenser (instead of a fridge). I did not also get scary vibes in this hotel, I even stayed up until 3AM watching Korean shows which I cannot understand 😉

I’m not sure about the other hotel facilities but this time, there was an onsite restaurant. The hotel staff was quite friendly, too. They were surprised when I greeted them in Korean.

 Can you tell I am missing Seoul and South Korea? 🙂 I will still be posting more entries with my travel to South Korea. I really hope you will enjoy reading them.

Where did you stay when you went to Seoul/ South Korea? What facilities/services of a hotel do you consider to be the most important? Care to share?

Cheers 🙂

Snapshots from Seoul: Nami Island

16 Apr

NOTE: Nami Island/ Namiseom is not actually in Seoul but in Chuncheon (the capital city of  Gangwon Province, in the northeastern part of South Korea) but for the sake of uniformity of my travel accounts in Seoul, I’m keeping the same heading.

After our quick stop at Provence Village, we headed to Chuncheon for lunch. Chuncheon is popular for dak galbi, it is a dish which consists of chicken, cabbage, rice cakes, potatoes, and scallions with gochujang, a red pepper sauce, cooked on a big pan in the center of the table.

dak galbi

And off we went to Nami Island, after our hearty lunch.

Nami Island or Namiseom is a “tiny half-moon shaped island located in Chuncheon that was formed due to the rising water of the North Han River because of the construction of the Cheongpyeong Dam.”

We had to ride the ferry, Nami Maid, for a five-minute ride to reach Nami Island.

Nami Maid – queue to the ferry – five-minute ride – winterscape

Welcome to Naminara Republic

Naminara Republic is an imaginary country where a “passport” is issued to gain entry into Namiseom. It declared itself a self-governing contry in 2006; it has also invented its own passport, currency, stamp, and telephone card”.

I actually did not see the “passport”, perhaps it was with our tour guide? I remembered just holding a Namiseom pamphlet (in Thai) when we boarded the ferry. I’m not sure about the currency, stamp, and telephone card either. I did not stay long enough to observe these things. I bought a steamed bun when I was there but I used the “regular” Korean won.

winter wonderland

Winter Sonata memorabilia

Nami Island is also one of the filming locations of the hit South Korean drama, Winter SonataTourists from far and wide, especially the avid Korean drama fans flock Nami Island for this very reason. But the time when we were there, there were also many Korean families with small children and groups of young adults or university students even on a Monday.

There were also art galleries, outdoor exhibitions, museums, shops, and small stalls selling food and coffee.

outdoor art sculptures and exhibitions

 “I see trees of green…”

Natural beauty abounds in Nami Island even in winter. I just cannot imagine how awesome it can get when flowers bloom in spring or when leaves turn red in fall.

I was not able to explore the whole of Nami Island but from what I have seen and experienced, the place is not only a feast to the senses but it also enables you to be attuned and appreciate the beauty of nature. Nami Island is a dreamy paradise that is definitely worth visiting especially with every season change.

Have you been to Nami Island or to a similar place that left you a lasting impression? Care to share?

Cheers 🙂