If you’ve read about my traveling before, you’ll know that I love history. But I’m really picky about it. I can get bored really easily and I get tired of looking at ‘marvelous’ cathedrals.
I expected my first trip to a Korean historical site to be rather boring, but I was wrong. It’s really about what company you keep, right? A few friends and I went to Gyeonbokgung Palace after accidentally sleeping in, and we had a wonderful time.
Korean palaces are much different than European palaces and castles. The first major difference is that you cannot actually go into any of the buildings in the palace. If you’re looking to learn about history and be warm at the same time, you shouldn’t go when it’s freezing. Versailles and the Tower of London really make an effort to put you in the era and give emotional weight to the people who lived in the buildings. Gyeonbokgung Palace was a lot of open space, with a tour that gave general information about how the Kings and Queens of Korea would live.
There was only one moment where I thought “Oh, we’re getting to the drama of it all,” but it soon dissipated. The tour itself only stirred a need to know more about Korean history, as it was clearly ancient and the tour guides were hiding all of the juicy details from us.
Even so, Lorin, Michael, Stefan and I had a good time imagining what crazy stories may have taken place in the palace. We weren’t far off either, because the tour ended with a story about how the last Queen was murdered on site and the King moved away from the palace permanently because he was so struck with grief. I just want to know more now!
That being said, I don’t think I’ll venture to the other three palaces in Korea until I know more about the actual history of the kings and queens of Korea. I really want to be engaged in a setting, and I won’t be able to do that until I have a higher interest level in the content.
I will admit, it was hard to look down during this tour. I kept looking up at the roofs to see the beautiful colors and designs.
On our way to the subway we passed the American embassy, and this giant statue of Sejong, the king who created the Korean alphabet. As a linguist, this guy is a legend, so of course I was pretty thrilled about seeing the statue. I’m glad the Korean culture provides a lot of appreciation for how efficient their language is.
After we found food (which was really hard to find in that area at a reasonable price) we decided we still didn’t want to go home, and went to Myeongdong! The area was super lively and fun. I’ve never seen such a large collection of street food in Seoul! I had a really good time going into beauty shops hoping to get free samples and check out some of their products. (I actually got some good ideas for gifts for people!)
Have you ever seen someone (who is not a child) so thrilled about a giant cotton candy flower? Didn’t think so.
The whole area was lit up for Christmas too, and Lorin and I got really excited about the holiday…it was lacking a little bit before. I didn’t take any pictures because my phone died, but trust me, it was lovely.
I finally got to have some adventuring in Seoul and it was just so fun to goof off and learn about Korean history.
I can’t wait for my next adventure, which will probably involve ice skating and Christmas.
Stay tuned, and happy holidays from Seoul!