WP_20131013_024It is my last day in South Korea so I decide to do some sightseeing. Seoul has 6 palaces within the city and Changgyeonggung is only a short walk from the hostel I am staying in so is first up.

It has beautiful grounds and a number of buildings that have been constructed in the style you see here.

WP_20131013_038Next door is Changdeokgung which is equally stunning having far more buildings to admire. I’m not entire sure which way round it is but one of these two palaces was the crown prince’s and the other was for his concubines.

Whilst in Changdeokgung I get to see what I would look like in Korean national dress. I think they might need to give me a bit more room around the shoulders.

Seoul was captured and lost four times during the Korean War so was largely razed to the ground by the end of the conflict, and the palaces did not escape from the damage. A great deal of restoration work has been completed bringing all the vibrant colours back into old buildings and replacing those that have been destroyed.

WP_20131013_084Gyeongbokgung palace was the home of the Josean dynasty who ruled Korea from here from the fouteenth century until the peninsular was taken under Japanese control at the start of the twentieth century. You can see the craggy  Bugaksan rising behind the palace to the north.

I arrived there perfectly to watch the inspection of the guards ceremony catch a little bit of footage of the colourful outfits. It was a marvellous spectacle.

WP_20131013_135The royal family were all eliminated by the Japanese but Gyeongbokgung remains the centre of the identity of the Korean people and the hundreds are visiting the palace today.

The grounds and the buildings within them are stunning at times. I can’t imagine the length of time and hard work it would take to create such things. Some must have taken centuries.

WP_20131012_175Bizarrely on a traffic island in the middle of the road directly opposite Gyeongbokgung  there is a festival being run. I saw these martial arts performers who were fantastic being particularly impressed with the four girls who could clearly whoop me with their taekwondo skills. I also watched a group of drummers that were amazing. You can see a little bit of footage of their performance here

WP_20131013_141From here I took a stroll down the Insadonggil market area where you can pick up souvenirs and craftwork. I wasn’t tempted by anything and to be honest was starting to get a bit riled by all the people who bump and jostle you.

I think it must be an east Asian thing due to the cramped conditions, but if I barged into people the same way that others are doing to me I would be knocking people over. There is an awful lot of gnashing of teeth on my part as a result of it.

WP_20131013_149It was a quick ride on the metro down the international food festival which was going on at Itaewon.

In amongst the stalls supplying tastes from all over the world there were sound stages, breakdancers, and crowds, which by this stage I didn’t have the energy for. I was delighted then when I found a bar that served John Smiths bitter, and didn’t move a great deal further than that until the end of the day.




Leave a Reply