Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

One of the many reasons I moved to South Korea was Google image! Wait...what did she just say? Google image was responsible for her entire change in location?! Yep, she went there! But seriously, when I was making the difficult decision to move to the other side of the world, I spent a ridiculous amount of time listening to KT Tunstall's appropriately named hit single ‘Other Side of the World’ and found many things to be true. Oh, and of course I spent a lot of time researching where exactly I would like to end up too. In this day and age, the internet played a huge part in my decision making, and I'm pretty sure I used Google image to look up just about every country in Asia.

I knew that I wanted to move to this part of the world as I hadn’t really explored it all that much before, and when I say ‘all that much’ - I mean NEVER! So I used Google to see what the different countries and cultures looked like, and if there was anything that would make me want to upsticks and move there immediately. I would spend hours and hours Google imaging just about everything. Cities, streets, beaches, food, people...some might say i'm a visual learner, who knows. It was only when I had been googling for a about a week or two that I stumbled across the wonderful country of, South Korea. And this was the first picture I saw that made me seriously consider moving here, an option...

Stunning right!

This is a picture of the beautiful Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, and it can be found within the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. As this is approximately 40 minutes away from where I live now, I was super excited to finally get the chance to go and visit it. The Palace was originally the main home for the Royals in the Joseon dynasty. It was built in 1395 and is the largest of all five palaces built at this time in the area. It served as a place of residence for the many Kings and also the government, but unfortunately over the years it has been severely compromised by various fires and at one point, by Imperial Japan.

Since then however, it has gradually been restored to its former glory and is now one of the most visited places in Seoul. So as you can imagine I couldn't wait to see not only the palace itself, but also the place that I had been dreaming of ever since I decided to move here; Hyangwonjeong Pavilion. So off we went on the subway to Gyeongbokgung Station, which is on Line 3. As soon as you alight from the station you’re literally right in the middle of it all, so there is no need to worry about finding it - its simply just too big to miss! The tickets were 3,000 won each which is about...wait for it...£1.50! Wow! Tourism in Korea is extremely cheap, compared to London anyway.


 Living quarters 

Gyeonghoeru (Royal Banquet Hall)

It took about 2 hours to walk around all of the buildings but to be honest we may have missed some out, as there isn’t really a particular route to follow. You could most certainly spend a lot longer here and even enjoy a whole day just wandering around and taking it all in. There is also The National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum within the grounds too, both of which I believe are free. The place is absolutely stunning and its somewhere where I will definitely be re-visiting again soon. The pavilion did not disappoint, and it was truly lovely to see it in person after so many months of google image...photo's are great, but they definitely don't compare to the real thing. 

 Outside wall...main entrance!

Another attraction that is worth a visit whilst in the area, are the two massive statues on the main road leading up to the palace itself. One of them is of Admiral Yi Sun-sin who was a Korean Navel Commander noted for his many battles including the ones against the invading Japanese. He is still seen as a hero by many Koreans today. The other is that of the great King Sejong, who was instrumental in the creation of 'Hangul' - the Korean alphabet.

Admiral Yi Sun-sin

Celestial globe

King Sejong

Both of these statues are pretty impressive and definitely worth checking out. So, if you’re ever in Seoul (why wouldn't you be) then pop along to see some of these amazing sites. I’m telling you now, you wont regret it. 

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