I know that this has been a long overdue post but due to some distractions, I have to admit I have finally finished processing the pictures now. About two weeks ago I was sent all the way to the land of kimchi, K-Pop boybands and everything else related to.... SEOUL, KOREA!
WARNING! BUTT LOAD OF PICTURES AHEAD!
[View of Seoul from me room!]
Since that I was there for work (as usual) I only had a couple of days to spend in Seoul, including settling my work there. Regardless, I did have an opportunity to move around the town and have a little sight see on what this place has to offer.
Set as a bustling business city of Asia, its amazing how this place has turned from an agricultural civil war torn country into one of the business heartbeats of Asia. Mapping out my travelling route here was not easy but not impossible. With the right maps available and English speaking people to help you of course!
[A combination of the city map and subway map is what you essentially need to plan out Seoul]
So, from there on, I've mapped out several key areas in Seoul which is a must visit for anyone that comes around this place. So first up, my main target was the bustling district of Insa-dong!
What this place is known for are all the souvenir shops around the street and it is filled with quirky, fun looking things to buy. Basically if you are looking to buy some gifts or presents for friends and family at home, this is the best place to go in Seoul for that. Of course most people would leave this place as the last place to visit, due to the number of things that you are expected to buy.
[An abandon building tuned into a shop complex]
[Layout of the building with a touch of Korean art]
[Some graffiti scribbling on the walls]
At the time when we got hungry, in Insa-Dong houses some really awesome looking restaurants with authentic Korean local dishes. However be aware that within Seoul, it is expected to have the restaurants to charge quite expensive. On average dishes, you would probably be looking to spend around KW6,000 to KW10,000 per dish.
[Alice in wonderland themed restaurant]
[Outside there are a bunch of roadside restaurants and bars available]
[Standard dish in Korea served with a helping of rice and kimchi]
Once done in the area, I decided to make a trip down to Itaewon-Dong, the nightlife district of Korea. Because Seoul have a very strict law when it comes to city nightlifes, it is quite safe to walk around at night around these areas.
One thing about the clubbing and bar scenes in Seoul is that like the food, it is also as expensive. Visitors are looking to spend almost KW100,000 per night out at least which does make things a little difficult to visit these places. Then again I was just as happy to survey around the streets to see what was going on.
[Itaewon Street stretch]
[Clubbing scenes in Korea]
So the next day, I decided to include a work colleague of mine from Bangkok with my travels around the city. One of the must see places in Seoul (for most tourists at least) would be the Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Set as a heritage by UNESCO, the entire site itself is a majestic site that houses not only the palace but other buildings as well. The entire location is basically a walled up complex for the residence of the royal family and their officers so you can just imagine the sheer size of the area.
[Me in the front entrance of the Palace]
[Gates of Gyeongbokgung]
[Inside the Palace]
We were super lucky to actually come to Seoul on that day because coincidently it was also the National Day for Korea which means that we got to witness their official parade with the medieval Korean time settings! Costume, drums and old procession methods, it was super fun to watch!
[Marching Band about to begin]
[Warriors with their weapons to follow]
[Wanted to help provide the drum beats but forgot the sticks]
[In front of the palace after the procession]
It is interesting to see how things were back then in Korea. The royal family used to confer with their minister in the past within the walls of their own palace and any messengers that were to come were summoned into the palace halls to discuss on terms and news with the royal family.
Around the back of the palace hall are other buildings significant to the royal site itself. As I mentioned earlier, there are other things as well that resides within the complex, therefore the royal family would not have to come too much outside of the walls and everything can be done here.
[Entertainment and party Hall]
[Door leading to the chambers for Imperial Soldiers]
[In front of the Queen's Chambers, which I couldn't help performing my best kungfu move]
Once we were done with the palace grounds, we decided to continue walking towards the Cultural Museum of Seoul, which houses some of Korea's ancient artefacts found over the years. I do understand that some may find this relatively boring but its so much fun to just see how people use to live back in the days in Korea.
[Me and my Thai colleague in front of the Korean Pagoda]
[Found a sundial that consist of all the Chinese zodiac years on it!]
[Naturally I found mine!]
We also found an ancient house that was rebuilt for the purpose of this exhibition. Originally the house was found in a different location but was moved and rebuilt here to be housed together with the other stuff within the museum compound.
[Front lawn of the house]
[Setup of an old Korean house]
One of the best thing that I found here was that they actually manage to built and ENTIRE SMALL TOWN within the compound of the museum. Like I said before not 50 years ago Korea had nothing much to offer as they themselves were lacking in modernisation and was still very much backward in comparison to other towns in Korea. Its amazing in that short period of time they have managed to turn things around and become one of the modern country in Asia.
[Found a train that would take me there]
[Front view of an actual Korean township in 1970]
[Medicine and herbs shop in the past]
[Old barber shop]
[An actual comic book shop, with a working TV playing old cartoons]
[Old School, literally!]
Once we were done with the area, we wanted to find one last place to visit to do some last minute shopping and we found it. The Namdaemun market is your typical street market district area and boy was it full of people. Imagine your typical Petaling Street in KL, with more people in the streets walking and shopping!
[Entrance to the market]
[Look at the amount of people there!]
Its a hectic day for a tourist to spend some time going around places in Seoul but in the end of the day, it was worth the effort. Despite most people would say that Seoul is always overshadowed by its bigger neighbours like Tokyo or Hong Kong but I do believe there are more to things than people perceive with this town.
Quite honestly I enjoyed my stay there and would really look forward to explore more of the town if given the chance and more time to spend walking around the streets of Seoul! :D