After an adventurous day on day 5, we had a day of royalty ahead of us. It was time to visit the palaces and see how our kings and queens have lived.
We had toast yet again for breakfast. This time we decided to try out HoBong Toastwich. It had a different charm compared to Isaac, but I think Isaac is still the winner.
Our first stop was the Deoksugung, near the City Hall. It was the palace for the crown prince, so it was much smaller compared to Gyeongbokgung (which we went to next).
It was interesting to see hundreds and thousands years old buildings right in the middle of all these buildings. Kind of like Central Park in the middle of New York.
Small door, big door, various door sizes… and inside of Deokgsugung. It is to be noted that some doors were built shorter on purpose.
There was also a newer building where the prince liked to entertain his guests. It was more modern and was designed by a Russian Architect. Hence why it doesn’t seem “Asian”.
We got to try on hanbok (Joe was a “guard”) and take photos during the guard exchange. Joe even got to hit the big drum along with the special announcement. Tourists thought he was part of the palace and wanted to take pictures with him.
We then made our way to the main plaza, and walked towards the Gyeongbokgung Palace. On the way, we saw the famous statue of General Yi with the miniature version of his famous Turtle Ship.
Down the plaza was the famous statue of King Sejong, who created the Korean we use today. Until then Korea used Chinese characters. King Sejong was sad that his people couldn’t read or write because of its complexity and thus created Korean, Hangeul.
Here it is, the famous Gyeongbokgung!
You can feel the magnitude of this palace even just at the entrance. This is the main royal palace used during the Joseon Dynasty and where the King and Queen resided.
An even bigger main building inside the courtyards. Compare to the size of people right underneath it. Despite it being a Thursday, there were LOTS of people.
The palace was way too huge to see in just few hours. I spent most of my time marveling at the design and engineering done long time ago.
This is the main throne room where the King worked. Look at the detail and the design.
Most of my photos were panoramas because I couldn’t fit the whole building in one photo! Talk about sheer magnitude and the work that was put behind it.
This is a smaller throne room where the King worked on less important duties.
Can’t leave out the beautiful pond and the area where the King entertained guests.
Even the chimneys were ornately decorated. If my dad did not point it out, I would not have known it was a chimney.
Onto lunch break. My legs and feet were aching and we were starving. I haven’t had a Korean McDonalds yet on our trip so we decided to try the bulgogi burger (not available in the states). It was delicious!
My dad feeling unwell decided to head back early, and we decided to check out Jongmyo.
After two tries, we finally made it! They don’t let you just walk in, you have to join a tour group. We had to wait until the English tour started.
Jongmyo is where all the past Kings and Queens’ wooden tablets are placed. The doors to see the tablets are open only twice a year when they have the annual ritual to the ancestors.
Again, this place was huge! The main shrine building was so long, I had to take it on panorama.
There was a smaller secondary shrine dedicated to Kings that had smaller legacies.
After another day of walking over 28,000 steps, we made our way back to my grandparents’ apartment to have dinner with my cousin (right of Joe). He is working at one of the DMZ borders! We used to play every Sunday when we were little.
After dinner, we met up with Lina, Maria, and Zack near our Airbnb for drinks. It was Maria and Zack’s last night!
We stumbled upon this gem. It was a very unique bar, which had a lab theme.
The owner said he always liked to have fun drinking and is constantly working on making different drinks. All the drinks came in real beakers.
We had such a fun time that the owner gave us complimentary tequila shots!
We also tried this Swedish cider that was SO delicious. It was very sweet!
After hours of chatting and drinking, we decided to head back to the Airbnb. Our next adventure takes us to the countryside and we needed a good night’s sleep.