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"La Tahzan, InnaAllaha ma'ana" (Al- Quran: Surah At- Taubah- Verse 40)
Translation: "Be not sad (or afraid), surely Allah is with us."

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." ~Edmund Burke~

'It's not what the world holds for you, but what you bring to it' ~Anne of Green Gables~

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Braving Seoul - Episode 1


The highlight of my day @ Gyeongbukgung Palace.
Able to shoot one good picture out of a hundred shots is very satisfying...
I really, really love the colours of autumn...

It was an exciting weekend for me and I'm pretty sure it was a worrying one for my mother. Hihihihi... my mom is so adorable :)

Well, excited as I was, I didn't wake up early for my adventure day. I was still so tired from the day before. So I woke up at around 9.00am, finished getting ready at about 9.45am, went down for breakfast and done with it at around 10.30am... I was really taking it slow that day.

I kept on wishing that I had a friend to walk around with me and kept on wondering whether I'll be able to enjoy myself travelling alone...

Turned out I did enjoy myself travelling alone around Seoul that day... yihaaaaa!

I started my day with a trip to Namdaemun Market. I took a taxi there. From the Grand Ambassador Hotel, it cost me 4,400KRW. Why did I take a trip to the market first? Well, obviously because I need to do an initial survey on what to buy of course! heheheeeee...

Namdaemun Market
The market was not too big, but I still spent about 1 hour there. There were so many things...
Souvenirs, clothes, fashionable hats, stylish winter clothings, luggage bags, handbags, ginseng tea, ginseng, seaweed, restaurants,
household appliances, jewellery, colorful & trendy socks and a lot more that I think I missed.

I bought a lovely sweater for my mom and a few bracelets for my cousins. I started to shop for some more before I finally realized that I still need to walk around and carrying a heavy load was something that I can do without. So, I snapped out of my shopping mode and quickly find the nearest exit out of the market.
My guide for that day, was a colourful illustration of Seoul map. A cute map with cartoon icons. But, it was not so hard to find my next destination, the 'Deoksugung Palace'. From the Namdaemun Market, I walked towards the City Hall because according to the map, that palace should be at around there. So, I started walking.

Along the way, I passed by a fountain that I saw everyday on my way to work. So, I decided to stop to take some pictures. I didn't know what the statues represent, but I figured it might have something to do with freedom or liberation or something because the statues looked happy & content :)

In the middle of Seoul city, some statues, Bank of Korea Museum

After walking about half an hour, I reached the 'Deoksugung Palace'. I missed changing of the guards at the palace by a few minutes. I only managed to see the end of the ceremony from across the road.

Deoksugong Palace
Deoksugung is just a small palace.
But there were a few halls for the king, queen, the royals
and servants inside the palace compound.
The architecture were of course traditional Korean.
The gardens were small, but looked very peaceful.

To read more on Deoksugung Palace, you can visit this website:

After Deoksugung Palace, I made my way towards the Gyeongbukgong Palace. It took me about 45 minutes walking time, with sightseeing to reach this palace. Along the way, I came across this statue... he stood there looking strong and macho. The one picture I took using the wrong exposure made it looked like he was floating in the air... which I like... heheheeee... There were also a lot of fresh flowers on the bench there which strike to me as weird... it's autumn... these flowers shouldn't blooming right?

On the way to Gyeongbukgung Palace

Finding my way in Seoul was not hard. Just when I started to doubt whether I'm going in the right direction, there stood a 'Tourist Information' booth. It was such a convenience. The booths were not only fully utilized by tourists, but also by locals. The officers on duty were also very friendly and helpful.

Gyeongbukgung Palace

This is my favourite palace. Mostly because it has this big and beautiful garden.
I didn't really go inside the palace building because it looked the same as the Deoksugung Palace.
The sun was shining, the sky was blue and it was windy. I also got to see The Royal Banquet ceremony...

To read more on Gyeongbukgung Palace, you can visit this website:

Two most interesting thing happened during my visit to Gyeongbukgung.

First, I was interviewed by a TV station (I think... I didn't get the TV station name). If you happened to see me on TV (hopefully on National Geographic or Discovery Channel), please let me know whether I looked ok or not. I suspected that my 'tudung' must looked a bit funny that day because the wind was blowing hard.

Second, I managed to shoot one very, very satisfying photo. I love it so much. That photo is the one that I put at the start of this entry.

After I finished my tour around Gyeongbukgung Palace, I went into The National Folk Museum, which is just next door.

The National Folk Museum of Korea
This museum displays the evolution of Korean life and culture.
The thing that interest me most was picture number 3.
That was a 'Parent's 60th Birthday Celebration'.
Once, it was a big deal to reach the age 60. So 60th birthday was a big celebration.
A lot of sweets served on that day as good wishes for the parents.

To read more on The National Folk Museum of Korea , you can visit this website:

Actually, there was one more palace that I wanted to visit. The Changgyeongguk Palace. But the information center told me the palace already closed because it was already 5.30pm. *sigh* So, I took a taxi to Myeongdong Market. I wanted to take the subway, but I couldn't find it. The taxi fare for the ride was 12,000KRW because of traffic jam. Huhuhuhuuuuu... the taxi driver apologize to me even though it was not his mistake...

Myeongdong Market
Myeongdong Market sold different stuffs from Namdaemun Market.
There were more clothing here...

Was it hard to shop in Seoul? Not really... some of them can speak some English. But if you happened to shop where the salesperson cannot speak English, know this... spoken words is not the only mean of communication. There are also gestures, facial expression and of course, calculator... hihihihiiiii...
When I travel to some place, it is very important for me to try the public transportations there. It makes me feel like I'm really tasting the place. So, I tried Seoul subway. But, I didn't try the bus. Maybe next time...

From Myeongdong Market, I had to take Line 3 & 4 to get to my hotel. I thought I'll get lost when I first looked at the subway map, but NO. Apparently, I have a bit of sense of direction... hihihihiiii... but, it's not that hard to find your way. Just follow the direction on the boards.

Seoul subway is not as simple as KL's LRT system. Subway in Seoul have a few levels... you can see from the evacuation chart. At some stations that I've been to, there were gas masks... for emergencies. You go to the vending machine to buy the ticket and there's always a 500KRW deposit which you can get back later at the deposit return machine. I didn't take the photos of the machines... maluuu... hehheheeeee...
How I know how to use the machines?

By observation of course :)

Seoul subway - Line 3 & 4

That's the end of my day... It actually ended with an uphill walk from the subway station to the hotel. I was so tired but very happy with my little adventure today :)


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