Thursday, September 3, 2015

Gyeongbokgung in Seoul, South Korea

Ah Gyeongbokgung. It's the largest and, I think, the most famous palace in Seoul.

I was lucky to be in Seoul in October, when they held the Cheobjong or the Palace Guard Inspection Ceremony in place of the usual Royal Guard Changing Ceremony. Palace Guard Inspection by the king meant that the guards would have to show their fighting skills in order to prove to the king that they can defend him and his palace.

I think it started at 1pm but I was a little late. I arrived at 1:15pm. It was very interesting to watch! There's an English voice-over so people are not clueless as to what's happening.

At 1:30pm, the ceremony ended and the whole company lined up and went inside the palace. People can walk alongside the king's palanquin (which I did)!

Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy my time in Gyeongbukgung very much for the following reasons:
  1. It was really hot and sunny that afternoon.
  2. There were soooooo many people. At that time, I had developed an aversion towards crowds due to the nature of my work. Big crowds stress me out (yes, even until now, lol). A middle-aged female tourist particularly stood out as she was endlessly taking selfies with her selfie stick with the volume of her phone at the highest setting! I could hear the shutter sounds even from 20 meters away and despite the noisy crowd, I swear!
  3. I lost my Ray-Ban aviators. It's not the first too! It was really stressful trying to retrace my steps to find it. In the end, I didn't find it. It wanted to stay in South Korea, apparently. Aside from the fact that it's expensive, it was difficult not having my sunglasses in that afternoon heat.

I tried to take a photo of the interiors of the main throne hall but failed miserably because people kept pushing me. There were so many rude tourists there, seriously. That's why instead of exploring the huge palace grounds, I just took a few photos and then went back to Anguk Station to visit Bukchon Hanok Village.

To be honest, Gyeongbukgung is very beautiful. I especially love the mountainous backdrop of the palace. However, I recommend going there early in order to avoid the crowds which may spoil the experience. Try not to miss the ceremonies, though!

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