Korea 2016: Gyeongbokgung Palace

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“Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is also commonly referred to as the Northern Palace because its location is furthest north when compared to the neighboring palaces of Changdeokgung (Eastern Palace) and Gyeonghuigung (Western Palace) Palace. Gyeongbokgung Palace is arguably the most beautiful, and remains the largest of all five palaces.” –Β Visit KoreaΒ website πŸ™‚

Smack right in the middle of the busy Korean capital, Gyeongbokgung Palace might just be the first place to be when in Seoul. I liked how Koreans built buildings and roads around the palaces, it just goes to show how they respect and celebrate their culture.

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Those commercial buildings outside the palace grounds are visible from the inside. Oh, hi there, Mama!

Just upon entering we can see how wide the area is. Inside the first gate, we watched theΒ Changing of Guards Ceremony which took place at 10 am. The ceremony is accompanied by narrators (English and Chinese) so we could understand what’s going on with each part. We were there on a Saturday so the place was jam-packed with tourists of various nationalities.

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I’m not particularly proud of this outfit lol

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My beautiful mom (nasisilaw)

 

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I bet you couldn’t see him

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Can you see him now?

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He was not in the first picture, so you really you wouldn’t see him

I appreciate the intricate designs of this gate. Yep, that’s just a gate, and there are PLENTY of gates before we reach the actual palaces. They are built that way to protect the king and queen and members of the royal family.

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After the Changing of Guards Ceremony, visitors were allowed to take photos with the guards. That’s Mama who chose a guard dressed in red hanbok, her favorite color.

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Off we went inside the gate! Yep, that’s another gate

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Inside the second gate is this palace. A palace! Finally! Unfortunately I don’t recall what it houses.

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A closer look

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What’s inside the first palace

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An eskimo posing for photo at the back of the first palace.

 

Can you see those mountains? Do you recall the buildings at the front of this place? I’m always impressed when mountains, buildings and old structures are within close proximities, it’s like harmony of the past and present, man-made and nature. Off we went to the other parts of the palace!

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Alms, alms for the eskimo. Kidding! I love my Mama, that’s why I brought her in Korea in the first place. lol

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From what I recall this is the 2-storey Banquet Hall

After the first palace, there are separate palaces for the king, queen, prince and princess. They pretty much look alike, except for the sizes. We also learned that the young children of the royal family are not allowed outside the palace grounds so they are obliged to play inside. The place is vast, anyway, we actually got tired of walking.

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Our group!

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It was a great educational experience and I recommend visiting the place for first-timers. And if you don’t have time constraints then why not visit all the 5 palaces! There are other places to visit that are within walking distance from Gyeongbokgung Palace, unfortunately we didn’t have the luxury of time to visit them all. So then, another reason to go back in the near future! πŸ™‚

You can read my entire Korea 2016 series of posts below:

https://virtuallytalkative.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/how-to-get-korean-visa-for-freelancers/

https://virtuallytalkative.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/korea-2016-myeongdong/

https://virtuallytalkative.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/korea-2016-myeongdong-2/

https://virtuallytalkative.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/korea-2016-petite-france/

https://virtuallytalkative.wordpress.com/2016/07/04/korea-2016-nami-island/

https://virtuallytalkative.wordpress.com/2016/07/04/korea-2016-jade-garden/

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Korea 2016: Jade Garden

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Another 20 minutes from Nami Island, Jade Garden is yet again a tourist destination popularized by another Koreanovela, which is not familiar to me (sorry). This was the last stop of our 2-day guided tour. As expected, the trees looked sad without the leaves but, I really should stress out how wonderful this place is! In fact, I personally liked this more than Nami Island.

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Another scene straight out of a Koreanovela. Just where the heck is my Korean-looking boyfriend when I need him

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Just wow

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I’m a sucker for little bridges over (troubled) water.

Okay so I have this thing about autumn and little bridge over little stream. When I was a child I would always stare at that calendar we had with this photo of amazing scenery. Jade Garden kind of fulfilled my childhood dream, minus those orange fall leaves. But still. I was really happy while walking around despite my camera running out of juice.

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Really fortunate to take this photo just before my camera’s battery died. Remnants of snow in this little spring!

Mama didn’t join me inside Jade Garden because she was tired so I had some solo time. Daniel our tour guide was so kind to take photos of me like this one:

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Okay Daniel was not really a good photographer but still grateful πŸ˜€ this was taken using my phone’s camera.

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That’s Daniel photobombing Mama

By the way, Daniel is a 56-year old IT professional who does driving/tour guide on the side.

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Before our Korea trip, I remember telling our travel agency to ditch Jade Garden in the itinerary and go somewhere else instead. I’m really glad it was not allowed! Til next time, Jade Garden! I would love to see you during autumn.

Korea 2016: Nami Island

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“Namiseom Island was formed as a result of the construction of Cheongpyeong Dam. It is a half moon-shaped isle, and on it is the grave of General Nami, who led a great victory against the rebels in the 13th year of the 7th king of the Joseon Dynasty, King Sejo (reign 1455-1468).” -fromΒ Visit KoreaΒ website πŸ™‚

After our amazing race-style tour in Petite France, Daniel our tour guide drove some 20 minutes to another popular tourist destination in Korea, the Nami Island. If Petite France is popular because of hit Korean TV show “My Love from the Star”, Nami Island was more popularized because of “Endless Love: Winter Sonata” (remember Jodi and Cholo?).

To get to Nami Island (or Naminara Republic, which implies itself to be a different country from Korea, for representation purposes only) we had to get our “visas” (a.k.a. tickets) and go through “immigration”.

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Since it’s an island we have to board a ferry. It was just a short 5-minute voyage, so it’s okay to just stand and savor the view. There are very few seats inside, anyway.

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“We’re all Naminarans.” Sweet

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We have arrived! Hi there, sexy ladeh

Being in the right place at the wrong time kind of hurts. I thought it would be spring time on the travel dates I chose, but it turned out to be too early for spring (no cherry blossoms) and too late for winter (no snow). Though we saw some leftover snow upon arriving in Nami Island.

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Mama: Anak nakahawak na ako ng snow Me: Mama may nag-defrost lang ng freezer

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Nami Island is also famous for its perfectly straight tree-lined paths. Since we had limited time to tour the place, we bought tickets to 20-minute electric car tour with tour guide, which unfortunately spoke in Korean so we didn’t understand a word he said. Apart maybe from “Hello!”. Hello from the other side. It costs 5000 KRW (about PHP200). I just took a video of the whole tour.

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We are really good at nailing awkward poses

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Looks like a scene straight from Koreanovela – lovers biking around! Just where the heck is my Korean-looking boyfriend when I need him

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They say the lake becomes frozen during winter. I wonder if they can skate there?

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Some statues and a Hanok (little house) at the back, where the kids can comfortably fit. Probably me too, but didn’t try

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So this is the secret to those perfectly upright trees!

There is no denying that this place is beautiful even when the trees are not in full bloom. I can only imagine the beauty of this place during the peaks of all the seasons. That gives me more reason to visit Korea again in the near future.

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Look at this lonely bench

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Which I occupied, because GGSS (Gandang Ganda Sa Surroundings)

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Papunta pa lang kayo, pabalik na kami

Goodbye for now, Nami Island! I shall return πŸ™‚