"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page". - Saint Augustine
For some, Seoul happened to be in the first few pages of their own travel diary.
1. Cultural Heritages
Seoul is most famous for her palaces. There are 5 main palaces from Joseon dynasty, and the most famous one is Gyeongbokgung (Palace greatly blessed by Heaven). It is said to be the largest, and arguably the most beautiful of all five palaces.
The Changing-of-guard ceremony takes place here, and it often attracts many curious tourists.
The King also built a Gyeonghoeru Pavillion, where royal banquets are held. It has a wonderful view of the palace and Mt Inwangsan
There are other buildings for the queen, crown prince and princesses as well as other members of the royal family and their servants. There is also a quarter dedicated to the royal kitchen, called the Sojubang.
I was amazed by the Architecture and Aesthetics of Gyeongbokgung. All buildings in Gyeongbokgung - and other palaces in Korea is made of wood built on a stone foundation to support the heavy roof, which is laid with beautifully ornamented ceramic tiles.
Roofs and doors are painted with vibrant colours, which stems from Confucianism and Buddism principles. This also makes the palaces an ideal place for photography and cinematography.
I didn't have a plan for going through Changdeokgung, so it was more like aimlessly wandering around looking at palaces and trees (except for one part that has a guided tour, Huwon - more on that later). The palaces are more vibrant than those at Gyeongbokgung, which explains why many Korean dramas were filmed here.
There are plenty of trees in Changdeokgung, and they blend with the building to create a very serene and peaceful feel about the palace.
It's quite funny doing quirky trick-eye stuff here. I saw a few scene where Singapore trick-eye museum borrows ideas from. Some scenes are really funny but some take the meaning of hilarious too far. Some trick-eye scene are really creative and amazing as well. It was worth a visit.
Strolling around the Noryangjin Old fisheries was a wet and slick experience. It was not as dirty and messy as the old Noryangjin quarter, but the atmosphere - all the noise in different languages to bargain for lower prices, the fishy smell of the sea and the chopping, slicing of fish on chopping board - is still pretty much there. Perhaps the fishmonger make Noryangjin what it is, not much of a location.
After getting the fish, I got them prepared in one of the second floor restaurant, with reasonable price. And quite surprising I talked and ordered in Chinese rather than Korean.
Seoul is also famous for her tasty street food too. Usually the stall-holder would only open when the night falls. The food came at very cheap price except for the meat skewers. And they are very delicious, much better than Korean snacks sold overseas.
The place is called BauHouse, and they have a big family of doggies, coming with various sizes and all with an extreme liking for treats. The dogs will rush to you for treats and won't care if they drop tons of saliva on your laps or not.
Seoulite has an outstanding ability to withstand the cold ( the temperature is actually withstandable, but it is the Siberian winds blowing down from Russia that make me freezing). Most Seoullite does not usually wear caps or gloves, and they do not even wear fur boots - what I saw, was sport shoes on snow. The Korean grandma at the guesthouse I stayed in told me that growing up in such harsh condition has made people feel ok with such temperature, but to tourist it might be too cold.
Elderly in Korea has unparalleled respect from underlings. They are the one who deserve the seats on subway, got soju served when at a table, and never ever got talked back to or interrupted when THEY are talking (and they despises having their photos taken - a word of cautions for photographers). Filial piety has become, perhaps, an inherent part of Korean life and culture, and in many other Asian countries as well.
The elderly in Korea does not stay at home and enjoy their remaining years. Rather they work, and work hard at many different jobs.