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Gyeongbokgung

'No visit to Seoul will be complete without scaling one of its many palaces,' says only one book, countless magazines, three friends and many bloggers. And I did NOT intend to leave the place without hitting at least one of them. Initially wanting to hit ALL of them within the five days that we were there, once we got to Gyeongbokgung and started walking around, I soon realized how foolish that was.

Gyeongbokgung is.....HUGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

As noted by my friend, this is the 'entrance' to Gwanghwamun, I think it's an area or a subway station thing that links us to Gyeongbokgung

My equally ambitious friend and me were intent on seeing every single little corner of the palace. All the other tour guides took the visitors to some of the main attractions where they all noisily climbed the stairs to huddle together in front of whatever structure it was for a group photo....us? We were hell bent on walking as many inches, feet and miles of this palace grounds.

It's hazy but I love how we are surrounded by hills. Something very different from KL or PJ. You don't usually see a lone hill popping up every now and then. Maybe yes, but not like this, I guess. 

Can't. Resist. The. Hill

Before that, we got to the exchange of guards, which is something we nearly missed, really. Was really lucky we noticed them. Even managed to record a video of it. Nice, eh? Nice. hehe...

A very quick snap and go shot with one of the stone-faced guards

It was hot. Honestly speaking, if you think Malaysia is hot, try South Korean summer. OK, in terms of heat, Malaysia's got the sun to thank for but we also have wind. The summer there is hot, sticky, completely windless and hazy. Think London plus heat.

Most days, anyway.

You can get your personal audio guide from the really obscure counter beside the ticketing counter (which has no sign whatsoever on it). You need to leave your passport with them before taking the audio guides.

The grounds is huge and massive and really larger than life. It feels like I stepped into a whole new world whereby some TVB or KDrama just popped out at me. We went to look at the main hall, the concubine's, King's and Scholar's 'rooms' and also where they initially kept all the records. We climbed into a 'secret' garden, under some tunnel and discovered that the 'heating system' under the structures were kept in tact. Whether they are in working condition or not, I don't know.

This is where business commence...the throne

It's funny, though....it is like a really huge ground which is all walled up but in it, you have this person's space, this person's building, office, admin office, learning center, record-keeping center....they are all separate but connected. When I was walking through these places, I could literally hear them marching past or as some concubine come trudging through with their troops of servants.

As with all temples and palaces, the design is very intricate. It's like everything leads to one thing...I think the main theme is 'dragon'. I could be wrong

You can instantly tell it's a girl's room...it's pink, red and glitter galore

This is just a small part of the concubine's garden. I think those structures are meant to be something. I was busy taking photos, my friend is busy with the audio guide. So, I didn't catch what they were telling me on the guide.


If I am not mistaken, this is the room where the scholars sit down for their work and discussions.

And then when I look up, I see the hazy Seoul skyline and skyscrapers. They don't mesh together. Like this picture.

Stark contrast. Anyway, see how hazy Seoul is? I will stop complaining about Malaysia, KL and PJ from now onwards. And looking at this picture, you are not even feeling the heat and humidity yet. I promise you, you will sweat buckets.

The garden is massive and if you looked at palace grounds on one of those touristy maps, you will see that you have walked half of Seoul while in Gyeongbokgung. Just kidding and exaggerating. =)

It's hot and humid and there was so much walking.

However, we are not even kidding you - granted the fact that we mucked around a little bit in the beginning while catching the exchange of guards outside, scaling the palace grounds of Gyeongbokgung in its entirety (we are not even sure we completed the whole thing because we were going round and round and then round and round some more) - it took us more than four and a half hours to finish walking the place. Four hours of solid walking.

The lake and garden. We are tired and not even halfway done with this place. T.T'

Huge palace garden...HUGE. And very well-maintained.

There was a smaller art museum connected to the palace but we were too tired by then so decided to take a picture of the signage and consider ourselves having been in there. LOL. I know...

Instead, we found something to eat at the restaurant. OMG, you have to order this pumpkin-cheesy dish....just get it, it is HEAVEN in your MOUTH. The quality of the food is good here, but as usual, eating out is like selling your liver in South Korea. Ex.Pen.Sive.

The cafe-cum-souvenir shop is nicely air-conditioned and naturally, many of us were stuck in there for a while (because we found seats!!! LOL) They sell drinks too, on top of some of the most quaint little souvenirs.

I know, right? Me and the hill thing. LOL. This was taken and Instagramed when I managed to hook onto the cafe's WIFI and switch my data off.

I bought a fan-like magnet coaster thing which looks so adorable and pretty that I ain't gonna use it as a coaster...

I heard that Deoksugung and Changdeokgung are slightly smaller but after finishing Gyeongbokgung....nah....we can live without seeing another palace for the day.

Anyway, eating out in South Korea is a truly, truly expensive affair. Even in some mid-range restaurants, it was a RM40-50 per person kinda deal. If I brought my kids along, we would be popping to the tune of RM150 per meal.

There are some smaller eateries which are slightly more affordable that we found by accident...you know, one of those days that we decided not to know exactly where we were going kinda days...but I will leave that for another blog post.
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