Changdeokgung “Ideal Place of Capital City – King Sejong” – Back to the Past Adventure (Part 5)

It was Friday and we were set to visit two palaces in Seoul. The two palaces are: Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung. The original plan was to visit first the Jongmyo Shrine, but unfortunately, we missed the English tour at the time we arrived at the gate and it is not allowed to go around the area on our own, tour guide is a must while inside the shrine. Because we wanted to maximize the time and not just waiting outside, we decided to go back after the two palaces.

From Jongmyo Shrine, we walked at the road at the right side of the shrine named as Seosulla-gil and then we turned left after we saw the rooftop of Changdeokgung Palace gate called Donhwamun. Same what we did in Gyeongbokgung Palace, before we entered, we bought the map guide. We have the tickets already for the said palace as we bought combine tickets (integrated tickets) when we were in Gyeongbokggung.

IMG_7027 IMG_7028–Donhwamun

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–Open space after Donhwamun

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–Geumcheongyo and Jinseonmun

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We entered the Palace via Donhwamun, as per the handbook guide, this gate is a two-story, pavillion-type wooden structure and the largest of all palace gates. After passing the said gate, what we saw was a huge space. And then we turned right where we saw the small bridge called Geumcheongyo. This bridge is known as the oldest stone bridge remaining in Seoul. After passing the bridge, the way leads to another gate called Jinseonmun.  Based from handy guide, on this gate has once installed a drum called  Sinmungo where anyone can strike the drum to file a petition to address grievances but striking the drum requires approval to a lot of government official and this system did not serve its purpose and been useless to many. It’s sole purpose is by the name only.

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–Sukjangmun (Front) and Injeongmun (Left)

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–Injeongmun

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–Injeongjeon

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–Inside Injeongjeon

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–Injeongjeon

After passing Jinseonmun gate, another open space welcome us. From where we stand and looking at the map, another gate in front of us called Sukjangmun and the gate in our left side is called Injeongmun. As we reached Injeongmun, we saw Injeongjeon area. Injeongjeon is the throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace. Based from the guide, major state affairs took place here such as coronation of new king and reception of foreign envoys. Next area we visited is Seonjeongjeon, this building where king worked at his convenience to discuss routine state affairs with high-ranking officials. And this is the only building in the palace with blue-tiled roof.

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–Seonjeongjeon and Huijeongdang

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–Seonjeongjeon

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–Huijeongdang

Beside Seonjeongjeon is Huijeongdang. Huijeongdang is the king’s bed chamber. This bed chamber became king’s workplace and become the actual main hall of the palace instead of Injeongjeon.

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–Entrance to Secret Garden

As we are awaiting for the English Tour schedule to Secret Garden, we went out the area of Huijeongdang and we waited at the entrance of the garden. Time had come and the tourist guide arrived. The guide made introductions and reminders while touring the secret garden.

Secret Garden or rear garden (Huwon) was a forbidden place for the purpose of the sole use of royal family. Since the palace was built at the base of the mountain, in the rear end of the palace, the garden was placed. And after seeing the garden at the tour, I can say that the design of the secret garden is still in harmony of the nature. This kind of place, I can think that any king can reclaim peace of mind because it is surrounded of nature. Our guide led the group at first stop which is Buyongji and Juhanmu.

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–Buyongji (Pond), Eosumun (Gate) and Juhamnu (Main hall at the top), Seohyanggak (library) left hall in the top

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–Buyongjeong IMG_7129 IMG_7152

–Buyongjeong (left) and Sajeonggibigak (right)

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–Sajeonggibigak

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–Seohyanggak (only roof) as I can’t go beyond where I was standing IMG_7132

–Seohyanggak (left most hall) , Eosumun (gate) and, Juhamnu (right most hall)

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–Eosumun

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–Seohyanggak(left),  Eosumun (gate), and Juhamnu (top)

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–Juhamnu (second level), Gyujanggak (first level) and Eosumun (gate)IMG_7160 IMG_7161

–Juhamnu (second level), Gyujanggak (first level)

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–Yeonghwadang

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–Stairs to Cheonseokjeong (not visible – not sure of the building still stand at the top)

I like the setting of the area. There is rectangular pond called Buyongji and most of the building built here surrounds the pond. The main building we saw is called Juhanmu Pavilion. Two libraries are nearby as well called as Gyujanggak and Seohyanggak, another pavilions exist are Yeonghwadang and Buyeongjeon. The said area is in the heart of the Secret Garden.

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–Buyongji (Pond) and SajeonggibigakIMG_7149

–Buyongji (Pond), Eosumun (Gate) and Juhamnu (Main hall at the top), Seohyanggak (library) left hall in the top

Our next stop was Aeryeonji and Uiduhap. Here we found another pond, this time, the pond shape is square. It was mentioned that it has islet in the pond with pavilion but now it was disappeared but the pavilion still there. The pond named by King Sukjong (I know he is the King in love with Dongyi)  “Aeryeon” that is why the pond is called Aeryeonji. The grandson of King Jeongjo which is Crown Prince Hyonmyeong built Uiduhap Pavilion near the pond. I remember that the guide told us something about one passage way in the area, it was called Bullomun (or Bulromun) gate wishes whoever passes it will have long and healthy life which originally meant for king.

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–Uiduhap vicinity

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–Aeryeonji (pond) and Aeryeonjeong (pavillion)

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–Uiduhap

Then, moved to Jondeokjeong area, here the landscape seems to be more natural, because the ponds looks great together with different pavilions surrounding it. There is pavilion which stands on the brim of the pond which is called Gwallamjeong, there is one near on the hill – Pyomusa, Sungjaejeong which stands on the highest ground in the area and the oldest pavilion which is Jondeokjeong.

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–Sungjaejeong

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–Pyomusa

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–Gwallamjeong (Gwanramjeong)

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–Jondeokjeong

We continued our walk in the next area called Ongnyucheon. Ongnyucheon is a brook flowing through the deep valley north  to the Secret Garden of the palace. And he we found a large flat rock called Soyoam Rock. As per our guide, the story of the rock is related to poetry composition, where cup of wines are afloat while making poems, I checked the handbook guide and I learned that it was from Chinese when having parties, they composed poem by a floating wine cups in the waters and if they are not able to create poems, they drink 3 cups of wine as punishment (for me it’s not really punishment, they are still having a good time). There are five pavilions surrounded the brook, namely : Soyojeong, Taegeukjeong, Cheongguijeong, Nongsanjeong and Chwihanjeong. In that five pavilion, the one caught my attention is Cheongguijeong, because it has unique roof which is thatch-roof.

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–Soyoam Rock

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–Soyojeong

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–Taegeukjeong

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–Cheongguijeong

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–Nongsanjeong

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–Chwihanjeong

We moved to the last stop which is YeonGyeongDang. When we went inside the area, there is part where it seems one of the building is being used for shows during night-time.  Then, the guide walk us around the area. Based from handbook guide, the area become an audience hall, the guide shows us separated quarters of  for men and women. It was mentioned that during King Gojong, the area become a venue to received foreign envoys.

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–YeonGyeongDang Vicinity

The tour ended well and for me I had a great time. I enjoyed the tour in the garden because it is like a nature trek which I really enjoyed doing. Historical sites in a natural settings is amazing for me. Before we ended the tour, while we were on our way to exit the Secret Garden we found a tree called Chinese Juniper. The tree believed to be 750 years old and aromatic which provide incense for ancestral rituals at Seonwonjeon Shrine.

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We parted ways with our tour guide in the Secret Garden. Then we continued our walk in other parts of the palace. We moved to Gwolnaegaksa area. Based from handy guide, the area are mostly used as government offices.

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–Gyujanggak

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–Geomseocheong

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–Gwolnaegaksa and vicinity area

Next was Old Seonwonjeon Site, it was called Old because there is a New Seonwonjeon Site, but we were not able to visit the area, it seems the area are still restricted from the public.  Old Seonwonjeon was the place for royal ancestral rites performance. Former king’s portraits were enshrined here.

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–Jinseolcheong

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–Seonwonjeon

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–Seonwonjeon and Naechaldang

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–Seonwonjeon and Vicinity

Then we moved to Daejojoen Area. As per guide book, the area are the scene of tragic history. Here was the place where the last meeting of the cabinet was held to discuss the Japan’s annexation of Joseon and the bed chambers of the last king and queen are still remaining in the area.

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–Daejojoen Vicinity

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–Inside Daejojoen

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–Daejojoen

And the last area we visited inside Chandeokgung palace was Seongjeonggak. The area was the crown prince residence and has been home of many buildings. Seongjeonggak was also used as royal hospital during Japanese occupation.

During the time of our walking tour between Daejojeon and Seongjeonggak area, it rained so heavy and we waited for sometime until rain was over. While waiting at the stair in the doorway of entrance to Huijeongdang, we met a Filipino which touring around the palace as well. And we talked to him for a while, until we discussed the next palace which is ChangGyeongGung which can be found beside Changdoekgung. He mentioned that the palace is small and can be finished in 1 hour. Because of that conversation, we hurriedly decided to visit ChangGyeongGung as well. We have at least 1.5 hours left before closing time.

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South Korea Adventure

One of the country that I dream to visit is South Korea. Main reason, I fall in love with their history through historical drama that I watched. I am not used to watch all Korean dramas, but if its historical, I definitely going to watch it. I can say that I am somewhat familiar with their history though I am aware that probably not all things shown in the dramas are all correct but at least some of the facts can be search online, especially people if they are real or imaginary character. These historical drama were aired as well in my country, and some seen online. I can sense that there is good relationship between my country and South Korea. One of the sign of this good relationship is the continuous visitation of the Korean actors/actress/artists in my country to either promote their albums or films.

When I came from Australia after my recent project assignment last May, there is at least two weeks left before our flight to South Korea. I booked the flight a year ago, without assurance that I will be able to visit this country. It was 1 peso sale in Cebu Pacific (one of the major budget airline in the Philippines), base fare is 3 pesos, but in reality the total airfare is not just that amount, it’s more than that.

I booked three tickets and I planned to go together with my mother and my youngest sister. And in less than two weeks, we don’t have yet the visa since I cannot apply it a bit earlier since I am not around in my country until I returned from Australia. I worked with all the paper requirements for the application of our visa and the three of us visited South Korea embassy, 5 days after I arrived in Manila. And we waited for a week for the result of our visa application. Our visa were approved released just two days before the scheduled flight which is very tight. Until we received our passport and visa, that’s the only time we were sure that we are really going to South Korea. I already accepted before, that the hotel and flight booking will be forfeited if our visa application was not approved. And we were lucky that everything went smoothly.

It was Friday (June 6, 2014), my mom, my sister and I were waiting at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), Terminal 3. At the time that we were boarding the plane, that made me realized that my dream will come true in a matter of few hours. I just thought about traveling South Korea, but never really planned it so well because of the concern regarding our visa. I am a citizen of the country with limited visa free entries to other countries. This is one of the main reason why my travel to other parts of the world are being limited.

After four hours of flight from Manila to Incheon, we finally arrived at Incheon International Airport. It was past 8 in the evening, we were not like other travelers that all things were arranged. The only thing we booked was our accommodation because we were not really sure if we will able to get a visa. After getting off the plane and passing the immigration area, I thought it still early, therefore, we tried to figure out how we were going to the hotel service apartment that I booked. After asking something at information center, we bought our transportation card called T-money card, this money card can only be topped up by cash (not sure if there is a way to top it online via credit card). We decided to take train to go to Seoul and the plan is to transfer to metro train in Seoul. After withdrawing some cash, we took the “All Stop Train” of AREX line (“Express Train” is the other type of train, which is non-stop, straight to Seoul but more expensive than the All Stop Train). We arrived at Seoul past 10:30 PM. Looking at the time, we hurriedly transferred to one of the Seoul Metro Subways which is Line 4 going to Oido. It’s past 11:30 PM, we got off at Chongshin University or Isu station, then we transferred to another line which is Line 7 going to Jangam. At this time, we never able to arrived at the right station where our hotel is just around because the train stopped its operation even before we reach the station we are intended to.

We stopped at Naebang station as the last stop which means the next train will be coming the next morning, 3 more stations to reached Non-hyeon where our hotel is almost near, we went out at Naebang station and tried to find a cab that will bring us in our accommodation for the next 9 days and it was past 12AM in the morning and we were still outside in a place that was foreign for us, quite adventure but risky as well. There are several cabs stopped but most of the driver rejected us, either they don’t understand the way I speak since I am asking them in English or they don’t really want us as their passenger. We waited until another cab stopped and agreed to drop us to the hotel. One disappointment on that situation was, the driver never helped us to fetch our luggage to put it in the trunk of the cab. While on our way to the hotel, the driver keep on checking and looking on the map and address that I have on my hand to make sure that he’s on the right track, I keep on talking to him in English but he usually smiled at me without other words to say, in that situation I understand that he does not really know how to speak English either.

At last we arrived at the hotel service apartment at Gangnam-gu and the name of the 4 star hotel is Inn the City Serviced Residence, Gangnam. The clerk at the lobby of the hotel accommodated us quickly, we went straight in our room after we got our key. My impression to our room is nice, it has two double bed and all the necessary appliances as expected were there. After few minutes of being familiar with the room, we knew it was really late like almost 2AM, we have  a big day ahead of us for adventure and because of that we crawled in our bed and fallen asleep shortly.

I will tell stories of our adventures of each places that we visited in South Korea, most of the places were in Seoul and around Gyeonggi-do province. I enjoyed all of these places in our 8 days tours in this country, though I am aware there are more tourist destination to see and I promised myself that I will go back in this country.

Here are the places that we visited in South Korea.

1. Gyeongbokgung Palace (Seoul)

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2. Insandong (Seoul)

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3. Bukchon Village (Seoul)

IMG_64054. Seoul City Hall (Seoul)

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5. Hwaseong Haenggung (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do)

Hwaseong Haenggung - Temporary Palace of King Jeongjo - Back to the Past Adventure (Part 3)

6. Hwaseong Fortress (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do)

IMG_68497. Everland (Yongin, Gyeonggi-do)

IMG_83508. Nami Island (Chuncheon, Gangwon-do)

IMG_74359. Petite France (Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-do)

IMG_794510. Changdeokgung Palace (Seoul)

IMG_706411. Changgyeonggung Palace (Seoul)

© HIDDEN PANORAMA 201412. DMZ – Demilitarized Zone (Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi-do)

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 13. Seoul and Beyond – Random Moments

Hidden Panorama - Seoul Random