Korea Day 4 (06 May 09) – Downtown Seoul

We were brought to see several highlights within Seoul this day. After breakfast we were driven to the Presidential Palace. Upon reaching near the palace grounds, we had to alight and walk up to the palace entrance and we can only see the palace from afar. Opposite the Presidential Palace was the old GyeongBokGung Palace. I find the sights within the GyeongBokGung palace more attractive then the Presidential Palace. Too bad we were not given time to explore around this ancient palace, time was given only to take pictures of the Presidential Palace.

Ancient Door
Ancient Palace Doorway
The Presidential Palace
Presidential Palace
Statue of a phoenix in front of the Presidential Palace
Presidential Palace
The ancient GyeongBokGung Palace
Ancient artwork on the ceiling of GyeongBokGung Palace
Ancient housing opposite the Presidential Palace
Part of GyeongBokGung Palace
Guard house of GyeongBokGung Palace

We then proceeded to Deoksugung Palace, a private villa built by one of the princes in 1400. This palace is right smack in the middle of downtown Seoul. We wandered around the reasonably sized villa, seeing several buildings for administration, bedroom for the queen and some more buildings. I find the structure is very close to Chinese palaces, certainly reminded me of Forbidden City in Beijing. After walking around the palace, snapping some pictures (the tourist thing to do), we were in time to witness the guard changing ceremony. The guards are still wearing their traditional costume, as this palace is now a tourist attraction. The guard changing ceremony is rather manpower intensive and was certainly fun to watch.

Entrance of Deoksugung Palace
The palace is the middle of downtown Seoul
Building structure of one of the buildings in the palace grounds
One of the buildings in the palace grounds
One of the buildings in the palace grounds
This is where the Korean Emperor once sits
Inside the palace grounds
One of the palace buildings
Inside the palace grounds
Wall inside the palace
Inside one of the buildings
This is the entrance to the queen’s bedroom
Inside the queen’s bedroom
The man who invented the Korean script
Well restored palace roof
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony

We then headed for our next destination within the capital city – Namsan Park. This a garden which records Chinese connections in Korea. We were told that there is a general who was so captivated by the Chinese wisdom that he ordered people to haven these words carved into stones and place them at this park. Up at this park we can see the Seoul Tower. Too bad we were not given time to even visit this tower. This place feels like a rest area for the tour guide, so he can steal some time for a rest. Other then the tower, there is really nothing much to see here…..

Seoul Towers in Namsan Park
View of part of the city
Chinese writings in the park
Chinese writings in the park
Chinese writings in the park
Chinese writings in the park

We were then brought to the Casino in Seoul. We were told that people with Korean passport are not allowed entry into the casino. Seemed like a place purely for tourists. Tried my luck in some jackpot machine, and won abit (Think about 50,000 won). This trip is a waste of time. The tour guide then brought us to the famous canal park. This place was once dirty and smelly and the Korean government decided to do something about it. So they converted the canal into a park! Walking down the pathways alongside the canal was rather unique, it is hard for me to imagine the state of this park before its transformation. Along the pathways, we saw locals strolling, jogging along the canal. We also saw some artists setting up stores trying to sell their paintings.

Canal Park in Seoul
Canal Park in Seoul
Canal Park in Seoul
Canal Park in Seoul
Me at Canal Park in Seoul
Walking along the canal
Canal Park in Seoul
Love how they spruce up this place
Canal Park in Seoul
Canal Park in Seoul
Canal Park in Seoul
Downtown Seoul

As one of our itineraries was cancel (can’t really remember what was that), it was replaced by some break dancing show. Since there are still quite some time before the show, the tour guide brought us to this shopping area and gave us some free time to roam around. We literally roamed around this place, making use of this opportunity to do the other touristy things – buying of souvenirs. This place is really nothing much just heaps of people walking around buying things, and selling things. We then headed over to KFC for dinner and met up with the rest of the group for the break dance show. The show was entertaining and unique. After the show we went back to the hotel for rest, getting ready for Jeju Island the next day.

Downtown Seoul
Downtown Seoul
Downtown Seoul
Downtown Seoul

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