Gyeongbok Palace (Gyeongbokgung) in Spring

This isn’t the first time I visit this palace, but being spring, and with this good weather, this visit deserved a post with some pictures. Besides, if I am not wrong, after the Namdaemun was burned away, the Gyeongbokgung Palace is probably the most important tourist attraction left in Seoul.

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This is the place where the king used to rest in summer. It’s completely open and surrounded by this lake so that his majesty could be really cool.

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I guess it’s on this small boat how you get to the palace on the lake.

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His majesty’s throne.

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Detail of the columns.

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Another of the palace’s lakes whose aspect had improved a lot with the arrival of spring.

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I thought this was a nice picture, don’t you think? (UPDATE: It’s funny who this picture differs from these other from Kirai. Korean and Japanese cultures, while being similar, have quite a lot of differences: while in Japan he is the one and only king, in Korea she is definitely the princess.)

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Another couple enjoying the good weather at the palace. I couldn’t tell whether the guy is dressing as a tiger or as Pikachu… in any case, he could have more style 😉

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Already outside of the palace, we found this temple with the typical buddha’s birthday decoration, the same that we saw during our trip to Yeoju.

Yeouido Spring Flower Festival

Spring has arrived in Seoul! And to prove it, here is this post. Every year, when spring comes, a Cherry Blossom Festival takes place in Yeouido Island. Yeouido Island is not an island on the sea, but on the Han River in Seoul. The image is quite nice and very typical from Korea as well as Japan. Being Japan a little warmer than Korea, the cherry blossom takes place there a little sooner than it does in Korea. In fact, we could see it during our trip to Tokyo last march.

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Mass of people and cars going to the island to see the cherry blossoms.

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Sometimes, it was even hard to walk with some many people around.

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Another shot of the people in the street. Fortunately, the streets are closed that day to avoid accidents (there were many children around too).

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We decided to stay at the island until night to see the lighting. It was definitely worth it…

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…in fact, there were even more people at night than during the day.

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All the main avenue was full of trees with lighting in different colors.

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I was pleased to see that they have bathrooms for handicapped people, with easy access for wheelchairs.

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I took this picture when we were leaving, after several hours walking around and with a blister on my foot that has been annoying me for one week. It is the Korean National Assembly, were the famous raws between politicians take place often, by the way, between members of the same party.

Oido

Oido is on the South Korean west coast, near Incheon Airport and at one hour and a half from Seoul by subway. The west coast of Korea is known because it doesn’t have beaches where you can swim. Instead, this coast is mostly composed of mud.

You can get to Oido by subway (line 4, last stop). If you go out of the subway station (there is only one exit), you have to take the 30-2 bus (at the bus stop before crossing the street), and you have to get off when you see the red lighthouse. It’s about one hour subway ride plus 20 minutes by bus, but it’s worth it, specially if you like shells.

And, what’s there in Oido? Shells. In all kinds and sizes.

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Jiwon and the pale sky I told you about in the last post.

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This is how this coast looks like. What is between the boats is not water, but mud. [[Cuando sube la marea]] the mud is covered by the sea, allowing the boats to move.

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Near the beach, there were these ayummas selling fish that reminded me of the Jagalchi market in Pusan.

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Another picture of the beach.

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Near the coast, it’s all full of restaurants selling shells. Most people going to Oido, go there to eat shells.

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Cooking the shells.

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More shells…

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And more…

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And more…

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And more…

Walking around the Grand Children’s Park

The Children’s Grand Park (어린이대공원) is a huge park near the Han river. You can get there by subway line 7 (station “Children’s Grand Park”, 어린이대공원) or line 5 (station “Achasan”, 아차산). We went there during the last cherry blossom, a very popular phenomenon in countries like South Korea, Japan or China. The cherry blossom lasts for little more than a week, some years even less, and its beginning varies a little according to the place climate. For example, in Seoul, it always starts some weeks after it starts in Tokyo, as Seoul is a little colder than Tokyo.

Here are some pictures of the park and the cherries.

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Entrance to the park.

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Children jumping among the cherries.

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“Magic Hand” you can get your hand made in wax, first time I saw that. They cover your hand with some liquid and then put it inside a bucket with wax. Then they let it dry and remove the hand as if it was a glove. Pretty cool. 🙂

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I don’t know who he is, but it looked very nice with the trees on the background.

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Inside the park, there is also quite a big zoo (specially considering that there is no entrance fee).

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The cherry blossoms.

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Good view of the cherries.

P.S.: A change of location at the commercial office and some Korean exams by the end of this week kept me from updating the blog for quite a long time. I’ll try to give you guys updates more often.. promise.

Korean Traditional Music Performace

Yesterday we went to a Korean traditional music performance for foreigners residents of Korea. The event was organized by Korea Music Festival and Seoul Selection, and held at the National Palace Museum of Korea, which is inside the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Tickets were free and they gave us lots of free stuff, tee and Korean snacks, pretty good deal, huh? 😀

There were several performances, but the one I really liked was a gayageum solo performed by Gwak Eun-Ah. After that, they performed a pansori, a traditional form of poetical storytelling typical from the southwest of Korea.

If you are in Seoul, the same event will be held again on December 15th at 3:00 PM. I think they organize it every year around the same dates, but I can’t tell for sure.

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First performance.

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Gwak Eun-Ah with her gayageum.

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Pansori performance.