1.05.2011

Asia Tour 2010 Day 4: Seoul Palace Trek

Resuming my tour write up (2 months later) ... Mwhahaha, good thing I have a pretty good memory (and I took notes) ... Anyways, the next day, I woke up pretty early to hit up the 4 major Palaces in Seoul. I found out later that there is a package discount pass that will admit you into all four attractions, saving you roughly 4000 won, but I was unsure if I was going to be able to get to all of them by closing time.

My aggressive itinerary for day 4, which was painstakenly pursued:

Gyeongbok Palace (the Imperial palace):
This was a fairly inspirational trip. I was almost motivated to write a song titled "I Planted Narcotics in the Emperor's Garden". Instead of the main palace, here's a pic of what I thought was the prettiest structure.

Changdeok & Changgyeong Palace (the Imperial summer palaces):
I asked the information person at Gyeongbok to confirm my destination, they told me it was very far, at least 30 minutes walk. I didn't believe, but of course they were correct. The palaces mostly look the same, but the gardens really differentiated them.

Jongmyo Shrine (the Imperial resting shrine):
After 15 mins of searching I gave up and asked a police officer how to get from Changgyeoung to Jongmyo. He pointed me to a one way backroad where I got stared at a lot, but managed to reach the destination. Jongmyo was in guided tour mode only (no self tours), and I had missed the last english tour. I convinced them to let me into the last tour of the day (Japanese) - "daijoubu desu" trans. "I'm okay/no problem". Surprisingly, I understood the gist of what the tour guide was saying. A solemn place, that gray stripe is a reserved path for spirits.

Insadong (touristy souvenir market area):
Bought my souvenirs here instead of myeongdong. This is the only Starbucks in Seoul with a sign in Korean according to my tourbook. I had a green tea mocha latte (not at Starbucks), but down 2 blocks at the famous "Tteok Cafe Jilsiru". It was really good.

Cheonggye Stream:
Next stop: Cheonggye Stream at night. This stream runs through a section of the city, along side the central streets. A dating hotspot, but it was also relaxing place to rest after an entire day of walking around.

Seoul City Hall/Seoul Plaza:
They turned off the lights while I was there ... ("go home")

Namdaemun Market:
A historical market that seems largely tourist-ed out, the inventory there seemed largely suspect to me, kinda disappointing actually.

Memorabilia I collected after my day's journey:
Various tickets + brochures. Also my Korean T-Money Card. It's like the HK Octopus card, very useful for getting around the subway system. It was very awkward for me to purchase because of the fact that I learned my Korean from youtube and this was not covered in the lessons. Let's just say that I can win silent and blank staring contests that magically force sales attendants into putting all sorts of items in front of me to point at - "Eego jom juseo" trans. "Give me this one". I don't even want to think about how I convinced them to sell me a T money card with 2000 won (< 2 USD) on it ...


On an aside, I can recall many a time where a young lady at a counter would giggle at my inept attempts to ask questions in Korean ...

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