Sunday, March 20, 2011

Seoul - The palace and the street

As day passes quickly, we felt we do need to wrap up our journey as fast as possible. However, since we were so tired, we did not plan to visit many places and we decided to stick to only a few places today.

Pic at the Gyeongbokgung Palace

We plan to visit 인사동 (Insadong), Myeongdong (again) and 경복궁 (Gyeongbokgung Palace). We departed from our hostel at around 2 pm and the first place we planned to visit was Insadong.

Insadong 인사동

Insadong is a place known for antique goods and nice galleries. The area around the place is lined with small handicraft shops and stalls selling a variety of foodstuffs ranging from 꿀타래 or kkultarae, or widely known as thread-like traditional taffy to potato snacks.

Getting there:

Insadong is located in 종로3가 (Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station) that can be reached by Line 1, 3 and 5. To get to Insadong, we exited at exit no. 5 and from here we walked there. Outside the station, there is a stall selling black bean bun. It is highly recommended to try it here and it costs less than 1000 Won each.

It tasted heavenly but we were not hungry then, so we did not really appreciate the taste ^^ Until now, I can still remember the black bean bun I tasted in Pohang during my 2010 new year trip there.

My group of friends travelled on extreme budget because they planned the trip right on spot. I skipped my classes and travelled there directly with the same set of cloths. We stayed in a small room, around 7 people crowded in 1 small room. I love the experiences.

*Check out the video of how they sell kkultarae*

Back to the Insadong trip, the people selling 꿀타래 or kkultarae are all the same.. They read the same line, speak the same language. "Make a hole.. stretching and stretching... little by little... until 16 thousand strings... wow.." All the same, too cliche.

The people can speak in Japanese and English but only through the same memorized sentences. "Stretching and stretching... Little by little..." It was fun watching them doing it. A box of 10 kkultaraes costs around 5,000 won.

It was worthwhile considering you are eating royal Korean snack. It is very sweet and each of it is filled with a mixture of ten nutty ingredients such as black beans, black sesame seeds, almonds, pine nuts and walnuts.

Instead of eating this for my lunch, we went to a restaurant and I ordered 해물볶음우동 or Spicy noodles with seafood and vegetables. 맛있겠다~ From here, we plan to go to the 경북궁 (Gyeongbokgung Palace).

The best part about Insadong is that it is very common to be able to find tourist guide around this place. It is difficult to get lost unless you can't speak in basic English or Japanese here. The tourist guides ARE extremely helpful!

Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁

Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is also commonly referred to as the “Northern Palace” because it is the furthest north when compared to the neighboring palaces of Changdeokgung (Eastern Palace) and Gyeongheegung (Western Palace). Gyeongbokgung Palace is arguably the most beautiful and remains the grandest of all five palaces. (Source: Korea Tourism Org)

Getting there:

We took a taxi to 경복궁 (Gyeongbokgung Palace). It took less than 10 minutes to get there so take taxi! Alternatively, do take subway to 경복궁 (in line 3) and exit at exit no. 5 from here. It costs 3000 Won per entry.

The palace almost resemble China's Forbidden Palace in terms of architecture but is small in comparison. A great place for photography in traditional architecture. Nice!

After the whole trip, we went to Myeongdong again. Nothing much to do for us so we strolled along the streets. The Malaysian tourists went for shopping. Seoul's Uniqlo and SPAO are definately better than in Daegu. There were more facilities in each outlets (especially in SPAO) than the ones in Daegu.

SPAO Myeongdong branch

Collection of merchandises

At Uniqlo Myeongdong

Our day 6 was over just like that. Tomorrow will be my final day in Seoul and we will be visiting a few universities in Seoul.

To be continued...

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