Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Touristy Day in Seoul: Gyeongbok Palace, Folk Museum, Seoul Tower

This post coming to you from the laziest, most relaxing wine, incense and movie filled Sunday evening ever.

When I first arrived in South Korea, as expected, everything was new to me. With each new person, place, thing, or experience, I'd get that feeling of being awestruck and have the uncontainable desire to take pictures, as if what was sitting in front of me might, at any moment, disappear forever. Stumble upon a park filled with art... take a picture. See a dog wearing mittens, a scarf and shoes... take a picture. Eat silkworm larvae... take a picture. These days, such feelings have subsided. Instead of behaving as a tourist or observer of a foreign place, I go about my day to day life like any other settled resident. I'm comfortable and have made a home out of this (mostly) pleasant place that is Pyeongchun, Anyang, South Korea. It's a good thing, really, but I still yearn for that adrenaline rush of the new and unknown. There is so much that I have yet to experience, it's just that now it must be sought from greater distances.

So, when a friend and I unexpectedly had Friday off from work, we happily grabbed our cameras and tourist sun visors (not really) and headed for Seoul to visit a few spots that are most likely listed on every "Top Places to Visit in Seoul" list.

Gyeongbuk Palace

Before touring the palace, we stopped for some lunch at the Gyeongbuk Palace Cafe, located just outside the subway exit. As if we didn't stick out enough by being the only foreigners, they seated us at this giant table smack dab in the center of the dining area with a bright light above our heads. Everyone else was sitting at tables for two. It was only humorous and it really was the only available table. Plus, the food made up for it.

Was called  something like "Dan-ho-bag-chim" and was as delicious as it looks.

An entire wall of constellations!

The tour of the palace was very relaxing. The main sections closest to the entrance were crowded, but after walking further in on the extremely large grounds, it became quite the relaxing experience. The blue sky, ice on the lake, and mountains surround were all very special. We met a girl from Japan that was being guided by her friend from Korea. It was neat because, during Japanese occupation, the temple was destroyed. Now the two were standing side-by-side as friends enjoying the resorted temple in peace.

National Folk Museum of Korea

After making our way through the palace grounds, we stumbled upon the National Folk Museum of Korea, which is located just outside the palace. Pictures weren't allowed inside (although I snuck one, oops), but there is an outside exhibit (also home to the cutest coffee shop under the sun), where I took many.

Candy Molds. I just had to!

Namsan N Seoul Tower

As the sun started to set, we headed to Namsan N Seoul Tower. The journey to the top of the tower was OK, but nothing too special. The inside was so bright that there was a constant glare on the windows looking to the outside and it was REALLY crowded. I preferred the view from the base/top of Namsan Mountain, which, with the full moon, we absolutely stunning.

At the bottom, people add locks to these fences to represent their love for one another.

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