On this post, I am not really going to tell a story but just to show some photos that I randomly took while walking in some areas of Seoul and other places while doing nothing or just looking for something. And this will be the last standard post that I had with the topic about South Korea unless I come back again to this country that I fall in love with. For single photo or image post, South Korea may still appear in random pictures which I usually published everyday.
1. Incheon International Airport
After we got off the plane and walked to the arrival area of the airport, there were few people around since we arrived past 8PM in the evening.
2. Nonhyeon Bus Stop
I captured this photo because we were trying to see if we were able to use the bus instead of train to go somewhere until we realized we never understand what’s the information in front of us.
3. Jeonggak Station Exit
When we were on our way to Insadong, we got off at this exit as we understand its somewhat the nearest exit in Jong-ro to the market until we found Tapgol Park along the road.
4. City Hall Station Exit
I had this photo after coming from Insadong market and we planned to go to City Hall Station to buy a discounted ticket to Everland at Hotel President. All of us were fascinated with the hanging umbrellas displayed at the exit stair we took after getting off the station. We also found a modern style of entrance/exit transportation card reader.
We had some time to walk around the area where we saw City Hall itself. We saw one of the main gate of Deoksugung (no photo captured), a palace that we haven’t had a chance to see though we have ticket for it.
5. Seoul Metropolitan Library
6. Hotel President
This was the place where we bought our discounted ticket and memory of the Philippine Tourism center near City Hall area.
7. Taepyeongno 2(i)-ga
This was the street that we passed through while we were on our way to Sungnyemun Gate. I enjoyed the short walk in this street because both lanes has Korean restaurants. After walking at the side of Sejong-daero, we saw Namdaemun Market.
8. Gyeongbokgung Station Exit
During our first day adventure in Seoul, the photos captured while we were on our way to Gyeongbokgung Palace after getting off the train.
I captured the photo above after we came from Gyeongbokgung Palace on our way to Sejong Center.
8. Sungnyemun Gate
We saw this gate while walking along Sejong-daero after we came from Hotel President where we bought our Everland discounted ticket. This gate is said to be one of the eight gate that surround Fortress Wall of Seoul which surrounded the city in the Joseon dynasty.
10. Seoul Station and Surrounding Area
Photos taken after we came from DMZ Tour, got off at Seoul Station, walked a little until we found Concos The Galleria where we had our lunch before returning to our hotel to pick-up our luggage for our flight the night of that same day.
11. Seoul City Tower
One of the building around the area of Seoul Station, captured this photo when we returned from an activity we attended in Seoul.
I captured this while walking along Gangnam-daero after our Everland adventure. To be honest, we stayed in a hotel which in Gangnam area but unfortunately we never really had time to explore it. The only chance we had after we came from Everland, we walked along the road and discovered we stayed in one of the busiest district in Seoul.
13. AK Plaza – Suwon Exit Station Mall
Snapshot captured while we were trying to figure out how to go to Hwaseong Fortress. It is one of the noticeable building as the location is both foot and automobile traffic area.
It’s our last day in South Korea and because we just had less than 24 hours, what we planned before the night of our return flight to Manila was a tour in the most heavily militarized border in the world which is the border between North Korea and South Korea called Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
As I am aware that security is the most important factor for me for this tour, I booked the one and only tour we had during our trip in South Korea. For me even I knew that we can go to the said border by just jumping to the KORAIL train, I still planned it with a tour guide because of the main reason that we must at least knew someone who knows how to speak English and who will guide us in one of the tourist friendly but heavily guarded area and maybe dangerous place in the world. There are lots of travel company that offers DMZ tour and I just selected one of them. We got the half-day tour of DMZ as we still need to go to the market to shop a little so we can bring something when we return from our 9 days trip abroad.
The night before Saturday, we arranged all of our things in our luggage as it was our last night in the hotel. We decided to leave our stuff at the hotel before our tour the next morning so we were hands free while traveling to Korean border. And then we will return to the hotel then straight to the airport.
Even we were tired from the past days of adventures, we still woke up early because the tour was time-sensitive and we do not want to miss our tour.
From our hotel, we jumped-in again to our favorite and nearest train station which was Non-hyeon. And then, we took train going to Bupyeong-gu and went out at Isu (Chongshin University) station. From Isu, we took Line 4 going to Seoul station.
We arrived at Seoul station 10 minutes before 8AM. We met our tour guide after some difficulties of understanding where to meet at the station because Seoul Station is one of the busiest station as it is centralized to metro and provincial trains. Our tour guide bought the ticket for our train and we waited until we go down to the platform to board the train.
When the time has arrived, we go down and walked straight to DMZ train. At the back of my mind, I knew that our trip was safe but still I guarded myself as I was with my youngest sister and with my mom. As we mount the train, I was amazed at the ambiance inside the train, because outside, train color are plain white and black and some people potrait, which is opposite of what is inside. The wall color inside the train was so warm that made the passengers feels relaxing and joyful, the wall displays flowers, ceilings colorful heart shapes and the floor painted with lively color of water-lily leaves. The seat covers were flashy and vibrant flower shapes.
Our ticket has seat number and one of our ticket has gaps with the other two tickets, but our guide told us that if the seats were empty, we can seat together which what happened as the train started to desert the platform.
At the time we were waiting inside the train, I already felt the tour was quite exclusive as I can sense that the crew were most likely part of South Korean military which guarded the train with its strict implementation, one requirement on the tour is the passport, without it, you will not be able to join the tour. Within our trip, the crew that we saw inside the train, checks our passport and tickets.
It was the first train that I experienced where you can see the front or back view of the railway of the train. And while we were on our way, most of the views that I saw after we left metro area were farms in between. So I can imagine that most likely the place near DMZ are agriculture oriented places which I understand because how a government plan to developed a place which near in most threatening place in their country which is their border.
Along the way we saw few stations before we arrived at the Dorasan (tour destination station), the nearest station where the border is and the last station of South Korea, because the train line (Gyeonggi) is connected to the next station that already belong to North Korea. The following stations in Gyeongui line in Southern Korea are: Neunggok, Munsan, Uncheon, Imjingang and Dorasan.
Before the Dorasan station, we had been told to leave the train at Imjingang station for our identity check. All the passengers left the train and queued for the passport verification. After our passport validated, we returned to the train and went to the last station. Before arriving at the last station, there were some military personnel jumped-in to the train and some of them talked with tourist. One of the officer went to our table and sit together with us. I was glad he knows how to speak English. He was friendly and he asked some information in amiable way until he realized we are Filipinos. He seems happy that some foreigners are curious to their border. He actually took pictures of our passport cover and told us that was his souvenir that we came from Philippines.
After leaving Imjingang Station, we passed Imjingang Bridge and Imjin River. Here I saw structure but I was not sure during the trip but when I searched internet for DMZ, I realised that the one that I saw were the ruins of the bridge that had been destroyed because of war as Imjingang Bridge was two-way bridge before, but now it just only one way.
At Dorasan Station, we already felt the military presence as we enter the station. There were Korean soldiers assiting visitors when entering the station. At the station we waited a little as our guide arranged our seats for the bus to the DMZ. And in few minutes we hopped on the bus that will bring us to the border. At the bus, some checks has been done as well and then we hit the road to the border.
I cannot explain what I felt while we were in the road and awaiting to arrived in our destination, I thought things about the separation of Korea, as I saw its historical drama, both part of Korean peninsula contributed to its development as one country. I am familiar of their dynasties and kingdoms, even aware how it became one country. While watching historical dramas and reading historical notes of Korea, I learned how it was divided. I remembered that there is another country with similar case with North and South Korea before, I am referring to Germany. Germany had been divided into two during World War II, but now it is a united country and in our time, it is one of the country that considered progressed country. I thought Korea divided because of the same war and my mind flew of thinking what if Korea has been united like Germany? Maybe, it will be the same as Germany which is rich and fully developed country. As I saw the side of South Korea and how it is at the moment, though I am not aware about the North Korea as the news are the only medium to know about that country. I am quite sad of division happened to the peninsula.
We had two stops in our DMZ Tour: First, was the “Third Tunnel – Third North Korean Infiltration Tunnel” and last, the Dora Observatory.
There are two ways to go inside the Third Tunnel: One is using a sled rails (blue caps) and the other one is from the lobby (yellow caps) where people will walk all the way to the tunnel. Our guide led us to the group that used the sled which was really cool for us since we were just sitting in the sled until we reached the end of the rails. Then we continued walking to the tunnel which quite easy. We knew it’s not allowed to take photos but we did a little snapshots at the end of the sled rail as the tunnel trail was too narrow to be able to take photos and because the flow of people coming in and out of the tunnel was non-stop.
Dora Observatory is located at the top of Dorasan (Mount Dora) where you had a chance to see North Korea border from a distance using telescope and binoculars.
With the two places we stopped, there were lots of tourist like us that visited DMZ, I can say that most likely the reason of coming to that places were curiosity and experiencing the atmosphere of being in Korean Border.
After buying postcards which I usually does in every travel I was in, we returned to the bus and came back to Dorasan station where our train to Seoul was already waiting.
I knew that there were more to see in DMZ but because of limited time we had, the half-day tour we had in the border was really worth the time.
–First thing to see at Petite France from the Entrance
–Petite France village
–Petite France village
Petite France was the another drama site that we visited. I heard the name of the drama but I haven’t watched it. The drama title in English is “My Love From Another Star” and as per my sister it was a love story of an alien and human (with that idea we can think of the story that it is fantasy drama, right?). The Korean actors who played in the drama, I am not yet familiar as well. In my country, the drama was quite famous specially for the teens and young adult. My youngest sister was the one forced me to convince to visit the place since she’s watching the drama and the site was near in Nami Island.
Since we were in the area of Gapyeong after we visited Nami Island, I agreed to visit Petite France. The name is interesting and the brochure of photo regarding the small French village seems to be unique and beautiful. From Gapyeong Wharf after we crossed the river when we left Nami island, we took a cab straight to Petite France. We took this path as we need to be back in Seoul before or exactly 7PM that day. The travel time from the wharf to the village was estimated of 30 minutes drive.
We arrived at the village and my first impression, the location has french ambiance as it showcase its colourful buildings which stand out in the area as Petite France is located at the hill-side near in Hoban-ro road at Cheongpyeong-myeon in Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do province. My sister was really excited and I felt the same thing as I was in a place which first time and unique for me.
We walked to the ticket booth at the entrance and we bought tickets so we can enter the village. After we enter Petite France my sister first thing to notice is the human like stand which shows the two main character of the drama “My Love From Another Star” with the hole on its face as it serve as photo booth to replace the face of the main character(s) by the person that will stand at the back and post their face for photo shots.
As we have limited time, we tried our best that at least within an hour we see as much as we can.
Here are the following buildings and other areas we saw inside Petite France
A. Ticket Booth (Entrance)
–Snapshot from Outside of the Village
–Snapshot from Inside of the Village
The entrance of Petite France is colorful and with lively colorful, I felt that it invites people outside to come in and discover the village.
B. Europe Puppet House
C. Fountain Square
D. Orgel House
E. Puppet House
–Scenery captured at the Butterfly Park near the Accommodation Vicinity (top most area in the village)
The scenery above at the Butterfly Park was one of my favorite part in the village because I found a scenic view which is the natural beauty of Gapyeong River that made me stood there for sometime appreciating its was wonderful vista.
G. Outdoor Theatre
H. Kang MA-E Cafe
I. Beethoven Virus Film Location
–Inside Beethoven Virus Film Location
J. France Traditional Playroom
K. France Traditional House Exhibit Hall
–Inside France Traditional Exhibit Hall
M. Beethoven Virus Film Location, Outdoor Cafe and Waterworks / Medieval Costume Experience
The scenery from the Observatory was next of my favorite because of the overlooking view I had while I was there which allowed me to peek the whole village itself.
N. Petite France (Some parts of the village)
O. Antique Exhibit Hall
Q. Petit Prince Road
We did walked around the village because we wanted to see as much as we can with so little time that we had, we still bought the ticket even we knew most of the shows were finished.
Before reaching the top most area of Observatory, we have to climb a little so we got a chance to observed what the village look like from the top.
In summary, all of us enjoyed the village because of its colorful place that offered visitors with great atmosphere, fun and exciting experience. We were aware that other buildings offers a lot of things that we still haven’t seen yet but because the village is closing, we never witness other exciting stuff. As for what we had seen so far, we were already satisfied in the village. If I will be given another chance to come back to this village I will spend one day of it so I can watch other shows and see other exhibits available in the place.
When South Korean drama entitled Winter Sonata was aired in my country, more than 10 years ago, the drama has been hit to the TV viewers maybe because Filipinos can relate to the story as it depicts love and life story which can happen to anyone. I never watched Korean Drama before but when Winter Sonata started airing in my country, I was curious why a lot of my countrymen watch it. I tried to tune once and I watched it again and again. The said drama is one of the non-historical drama that I knew by heart, main reason aside from the story was because of the main actor Bae Yong Joon. I was a fan of him.
Aside from historical places that I wanted to visit in South Korea, we did a side trip in few places where some of the famous drama was held. One of the place was Nami Island (or Namiseom) where some of remarkable scenes of Winter Sonata series which remembered by the viewers. For what I learned, the island become a tourist destination in South Korea because of the said drama.
When we arrived in the island, I never expect historical information to discover, but I did learned something. The island was named after General Nami, who died because he was falsely accused of treason during the reign of King Sejo. At the island, I read some information about the said General and it seems that the treason case against him was removed during King Sunjo (son of King Jeongjo / Yi San). That piece of history is quite interesting to know.
From our hotel we took Line 7 again and started our journey from Nonh-yeon station to Sangbong. There was a comedy experience we did, as we understood instructions incorrectly and from Sangbong, we went out in Mangu station as we thought we need to transfer the train going to Gyeongchun, but to our discovery, the train in Sangbong also goes to the station we intended to do, we did an unnecessary switching of train. Well that was one of our moments of experience to laugh at while touring in South Korea.
After we took train in Mangu station, it was almost an hour before we reached Gapyeong station. During that travel, I just realised how far the scope of Seoul Metro Train. Because for me Gapyeong station distance is really far from metro. And I also witnessed along the train line the residential buildings besides hills and mountains which made me feel awe for what I saw. I can sense Seoul was not enough to accommodate South Korean metropolis that is why residential buildings are nowadays can be seen even its far in Seoul.
We went out in Gapyeong station and from there I found some tourist brochure to know more about how we can go to Nami Island. There is a regular bus that goes through all tourist spot in Gapyeong area. But we still decided to take a cab as we have limited time to visit all the places that the bus is offering. After taking a cab, we just surprised that terminal to Nami Island was just nearby, since it is near from the train station, the fee was minimal and we had saved time.
We walked to the terminal and some people probably recognised that we are Filipinos and they greeted us in our language which made us feel at home. We bought our ticket and then walked to the docking area or what they call Gapyeong Wharf where the ferry that will bring us to the island was waiting.
While waiting for the ferry to leave the terminal, we saw a zip line tower (Zip Wire Tower) which is another option to go to the island instead of a boat. Since we already bought tickets, we don’t have a choice to cancel the trip even my sister and I wanted to try zip line.
We enjoyed the trip and in few minutes we arrived at Nami Wharf is Nami Island. People started to disembark the ferry and we did the same. Near the entrance gate, there were information centre, restaurants and other stores to enjoy. We started our walk in the island park. First, we passed the Tourism Bureau. Next thing we saw was the Tomb of General Nami. We walked along the famous Central Korean Pine Lane where there are lanterns hang on one side. Along the lane we also found different flags and we found my country’s own flag.
Korean Central Pine Tree Lane
And from the said lane, we either turn left or right to see more of different things in the island park. First stop was at the Ostrich Fence. Then, the nearby site of Yeoncheon Jeongok-ri Site.
Next thing we saw was the famous Winter Sonata First Kiss site which showcase the bench used of the main character of the drama where the first kiss happened. Then it was followed by the First Kiss Bridge where you can see the Glass Sequoia, Eco Farm and Yeonryeon Pond.
— First Kiss Bridge
We continued our wandering in the island park until we were back in Korean Central Pine Lane. Then we saw the UNICEF Sharing Stage and UNICEF Hall. Next to the area were restaurants, galleries and stores. Next stage we saw was Youth Stage Belgrade.
–UNICEF Sharing Stage
–Youth Stage Belgrade
We stopped for a while to take a break near at the playground. Then after the lunch, we walked to the famous film site of Winter Sonata which called the Metasequoia Lane. Here we saw different stuff related to the drama such as the huge photo of the main character along the Metasequoia Lane, their statues, bicycle used in the shooting and event the woods were also displayed. There is Winter Sonata store as well. Every romantic moments in the drama has been showcased.
— Winter Sonata Stuff
After enjoying the Winter Sonata Site, we started to walked back from where we came from as we still plan to visit another drama site near the island. We walked in the same lane that we took while enjoying the island park.
Based from information from online and some brochure, I got the impression from the name itself that Everland is like a magical world that you wanted to visit and feel like a young child again. With that thoughts in my mind, the three of us probably quite excited. We already visited a lot of theme parks from my country and other countries as well and each theme parks left something in our heart. I was really curious what Everland will offer that time.
We decided to set Everland adventure on Friday, second to the last day of our South Korea trip. Since we already bought ticket prior to the big day, we just checked in the brochure how to go to the theme park. From our hotel, we took Line 7 again as we usually starts our travel going to Bupyeong-gu office, then we got off at Express Bus Terminal to transfer to another line. Then we took Line 3 going to Ogeum and we got off at Seoul National University of Education. Lastly we took Line 3 going to Konkuk station and we dropped off at Gangnam station. This travel that we did, when we returned from Everland, we realized how near the Gangnam station from our hotel, but since we did not knew it before we took the long way.
Outside Gangnam station, we found the bus terminal going directly to Everland theme park, we took Red Bus#5002. We waited for sometime until the bus arrived. We were lucky as we lined-up in the queue and were near at the front of the queue as it seems that there were lots of people planned to go to the theme park that day as it is Friday. We used our T-money card in the bus, in few minutes the bus were full and we’re on our way to the theme park.
On our way to Everland, we passed Carribean Bay which is another theme park near Everland but our ticket does not include it. The public bus dropped us at the bus terminal near at Everland, then we transferred to park shuttle bus that brought us to the main gate of the park.
We got off at the front of the main gate of Everland. The facade of the gate gives the impression to the visitor that the theme park is a magical land like Disneyland. We spent few minutes to take photos of ourselves at the front of the gate. After taking photos, we walked at the gate and we presented our ticket to enter the park.
–Front of Main Gate
–Main Gate (Way Out)
–Garden at the middle near the main gate
As we entered the park, we felt excited as we already enjoying what we had seen so far. My mom and my sister saw flower garden at the middle after passing the gate and as usual as I am the photographer, I have to take photos of them. The first place to see in the park based on our map is called Global Fair. Here there were two attractions listed, first the “K-Pop Hologram” and “Pororo 3D Adventure”. In the hologram, there was artist displayed but since my sister and I not familiar with the said artist, we never entered in the hologram as we wanted to see much as we can. There are shops with unique and magical style that can be found within the Global Fair area. We passed different Gardens and Flowers. One of the lovely thing we saw was the colorful and huge Magic Tree. There were restaurants as well such as Venizia and Oriental. There is Human Sky terminal which used to transfer from Global Fair to Zootopia.
–Lacium Memorium (One of the shops)
–Lacium Memorium and Vicinity (Way Out)
–Tower Photo (One of the shops)
–Vicinity and K-Pop Hologram
–Gardens and Flowers
–Pororo 3D Adventure
Came from American Adventure
–Global Fair Vicinity
–Oriental Pororo Salad Bar
–Oriental Pororo Salad Bar and Human Sky terminal
Came from European Adventure On Our Way Out
–Global Fair Vicinity
–Between American Adventure and Global Fair
–Flowers and Magic Tree
–8 Seconds shop
After reaching American Adventure area, we stopped for a while and took a break, we bought cold drinks while looking on rides nearby. My sister tried Championship Rodeo rides, we thought that it was simple but after rides we felt crazy and dizzy. We had fun in that ride. Other rides are Hurricane, Rolling X-Train, Columbus Adventure and Let’s Twist. Sky Cruise terminal can be found as well which used to transfer from American Adventure to European Adventure.
We went to Sky Cruise to immediately transfer to European Adventure. After reaching the said area as we enjoyed the magical garden because of its colorful and beautiful flowers that spreads in the whole area. We took a lot of time in each area that we did not noticed that time was passing.
–View of European Adventure from Sky Cruise rides
–With Grand Stage
–Royal Jubilee Carousel
Other areas in Everland were closed at the time that we arrived such as Zootopia. We came in the place but no more animals and no more shows anymore. We were a bit sad but we understand that the theme park were quite big and after we spent so much time in the beautiful garden in European Adventure, we run out of time to see a lot of the park. But still in total, we enjoyed our visit in Everland.
The last palace that we visited was Changyeonggung, though we still have ticket for our fifth palace, I knew for myself, that we will not able to visit it because the next day was our last day and we were booked for another tour. Anyway, though there were still few raindrops when we were at Changdeokgung, we were unstoppable to continue our walk. We entered in the gate of the palace from Changdeokgung which is called Hamyangmun.
–Hamyangmun (near the stair)
Since our tour did not start at the main gate of the palace, we saw the buildings in not particularly order. We started to walk in the area of Tongmyeongjeon and Yanghwadang. Based from handbook guide, Tongmyeongjeon was the queen’s bed chamber. Beside the building, there is a pond, with a bridge in the middle of it. While reading the information, I felt ecstatic because it was mentioned in the footnote in the guide that it was near the area of Tongmyeongjeon where Jang Ok-jeong (maid-in waiting become queen, deposed as consort and killed herself by poison, queen of King Sukjong in Dongyi historical drama) buried a puppet of the Queen together with dead animals which was the curse she laid for Queen Inhyeon (the current queen of King Sukjong in Dongyi). That piece of information is interesting. While the other building beside Tongmyeongjeon which is Yanghwadang where King Injo stayed.
Another area nearby Tomyeongjeon is called Gyeongchunjeon and Hwangyeongjeon. Gyeongchunjeon was sleeping quarters of King Seongjong (son of Queen Insu who become a regent for some years when his son was still young). It was the place of queens and princesses because future kings such as King Jeongjo and King Heonjong, King Jeongjo himself wrote a plaque which means “Birth Hall” and hung above the entrance. Hwangyeongjeon was the residence of kings and princes.
We moved to another area and look again what’s the building mean and the guide-book mentioned that it is called as Haminjeong which used by king to receive officials and hold banquets. Then we found as well the Sungmundang, its name written by King Yeongjo (son of King Sukjong and Dongyi in the drama) still hang. Here the king threw banquets for state affair discussions and classical literature.
–Binyangmun (near Sungmundang)
Next building we checked is called Munjeongjeon which is a council hall where king usually dealt with routine state affairs. One interesting information found in the footnote of the guide, that the courtyard in front of this building, the most tragic incident of the century happened. Prince Sado (father of King Jeongjo) was reported to be mentally ill and King Yeongjo were so furious that he ordered to put the prince in rice chest and sealed alive (where the prince died after 8 days).
–Between Munjeongjeon and Muyeongeonjeon
Then we move to another area called Myeongjeongjeon and vicinity. Here we found the main hall of the palace which is Myeongjeongjeon. Here most of the state affairs such as royal coronations, royal weddings, royal banquets were held.
–Okcheongyo(bridge) and Myeongjeonmun(gate)
Next area we passed by is Honghwamun and vicinity. Here we found the gate to Myeongjeonmun to Myeongjeongjeon. Then the famous Honghwamun, this gate where King Yeongjo went out to gather the opinions of peasants and scholars alike for Equalized Tax Law where most of his ministers opposed. Another interesting fact that I learned from the handbook guide was the footnote telling us that it was the same gate where people crowded to rally for the crown prince, he is Prince Sohyeon (oldest son of King Injo who become hostage for years during Qing dynasty but died through poison few days after returning in from Qing). I remember he is the same prince that I am currently watching historical drama right now entitled The Three Musketeers. Let’s wait and see what I am going to learn in that historical drama once it’s finished airing.
After coming from Honghwamun, we went out at the right side door and moved to Yeongchuncheon and Jipbokheon area. I learned that the area was residences of concubines. Jipbojheon building was where Crown Prince Sado and King Sunjo were born. Yeongchuncheon was unknown building before but become King Jeongjo’s study room and sometimes for handling routine state affairs.
We passed the Inner Palace site where court ladies live here. Some of the royal princesses also lived here. But currently we saw the place as wooded area full of trees and gardens. Probably the site was not yet restored. We continue our walk until we found a beautiful and large pond, and based from map, the pond named Chundangji. The large pond was not the original pond, it was the site where the king did engaged in farming while the queen engaged in raising silkworm. The original pond is the small pond which is not visible in the photo that I tool while I was at the front of the pond.
Because its getting dark and we are aware that the palace is open until 6PM, we hurriedly went back in Honghwamun area so we can exit easily. In this walking tour we missed three areas namely: Gwandeokjeon and Jipchunmun, Eastern Palace Site and Gwolnaegaksa. Those three are more on sites as of that time, probably South Korea has still plan to restore the site in due time. I enjoyed another walking tour in the palace. While inside the palace and seeing historical buildings makes me feel that I was returning in the past time of Joseon. I enjoyed the tour because I am somewhat familiar with their history, maybe to other people, these are just mere buildings but for me, they are truly treasures that South Korean must keep it for more many years to come so next generation will appreciate their history again.
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.
–Open space after Donhwamun
–Geumcheongyo and Jinseonmun
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.
–Sukjangmun (Front) and Injeongmun (Left)
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.
–Seonjeongjeon and 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.
–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.
–Buyongji (Pond), Eosumun (Gate) and Juhamnu (Main hall at the top), Seohyanggak (library) left hall in the top
–Buyongjeong (left) and Sajeonggibigak (right)
–Seohyanggak (only roof) as I can’t go beyond where I was standing
–Seohyanggak (left most hall) , Eosumun (gate) and, Juhamnu (right most hall)
–Seohyanggak(left), Eosumun (gate), and Juhamnu (top)
–Juhamnu (second level), Gyujanggak (first level) and Eosumun (gate)
–Juhamnu (second level), Gyujanggak (first level)
–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.
–Buyongji (Pond) and Sajeonggibigak
–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.
–Aeryeonji (pond) and Aeryeonjeong (pavillion)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
–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.