Sunday, December 02, 2012

Two Palaces and a Temple in Seoul, S.Korea

Welcome to my final blog of my trip to South Korea. This amazing tree can be found at the Jogyesa Temple

Jogyesa is the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

The temple was first established in 1395, at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty; the modern temple was founded in 1910

Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁 was the second royal villa built following the construction of Gyeongbokgung Palace in 1405. Here you can see Donhwamun Gate - the main palace gate. Built in 1412, Donhwamun has a two-story pavilion-type wooden structure, and is the largest of all palace gates. Donhwamun was burned down during the Japanese invasion of 1592 and was restored in 1608

Changdeokgung was the most favored palace of many Joseon princes and retained many elements dating from the Three Kingdoms of Korea period that were not incorporated in the more contemporary Gyeongbokgung. This is Injeongjeon, the throne hall. It was used for major state affairs including the coronation of a new king and receiving foreign envoys

One element not incorporated in the more contemporary Gyeongbokgung is the fact that the buildings of Changdeokgung blend with the natural topography of the site instead of imposing themselves upon it

Like the other Five Grand Palaces in Seoul, it was heavily damaged during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945). Currently, only about 30% of the pre-Japanese structures survive. As you can see the buildings are spectacular

The architectural style of Changdeokgung overall features simplicity and frugality because of Confucian ideology

Gorgeous ceiling

Changdeokgung was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997

A beautiful Palace and a fun playground for children


It's definitely true that the Changdeokgung Palace is less imposing and has a different atmosphere to the Gyeongbokgung

Beautifully designed window

A cute little visitor to the Palace


Adjacent to the Changdeokgung Palace, is another Palace called Changgyeonggung. Originally the Summer Palace of the Goryeo Emperor, it later also became one of the Five Grand Palaces of the Joseon Dynasty. Unbeknown to me these ladies were here for a special occasion

I was fortunate to witness and take some photographs of this special occasion for a Korean husband and wife

This day was their 50th wedding anniversary....

....and they came suitably attired.... beautiful traditional costume

The daughter of the couple had arranged this so they would have lovely memories

It was a little stressful and formal for them posing for the photos but this smile says it all

The entrance to the Changgyeonggung Palace called Honghwamun. It is now sunset and time for me to start preparations for my journey back to Singapore

As I was leaving I was fortunate to bump into this little bundle of fun!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Seoul, South Korea

I didn't have much time to see the city. The photos are from walking to the Royal Palaces or the Buddhist temple. This is City Hall

It's a great place for people to gather and for events because of the large lawn. The area in front of the buildings is called Seoul Plaza. It has been used in the past for protests and public rallies. The juxtaposition of the old and recently completed new City Hall makes for an interesting place to hang out

It is now used for events as you will see later in this posting


Behind this bright object is a canal that provides a relaxing walk in the midst of the city. Some photos of that later

This is the statue of Admiral Yi Sunshin in Gwanghwamun Square. Yi Sun-shin was a Korean naval commander, famed for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Imjin war in the Joseon Dynasty

Near the statue of Admiral Yi Sunshin are the 12·23 Fountain and Yeoksamulgil ("Waterway of History"). The fountain’s name commemorates a great victory in 1597, when Admiral Yi defeated 133 Japanese naval ships with only 12 ships of his own

It also recalls how he fought 23 battles without a single defeat


The aliens have landed! Looks like it was a tough trip!

Gwanghwamun Square is divided into six sections. At its center stands a statue of King Sejong the Great, the fourth and most respected king of the Joseon Dynasty and creator of Hangeul, Korea's alphabet

The old tram car 381 in front of the Seoul Museum of History.
This historical tram traveled in Seoul from 1930 to 1968

I popped into a lovely tea shop. This lady kindly invited me to stay for tea. The making of the tea was according to a prescribed process. She "woke up" the tea by pouring boiling water over the pot many times

A very interesting wall. You can see me in the bottom right hand corner taking the photo

Again, the old and the new. While I always love the traditional, I like the modern architecture in Korea. There are many interestingly designed buildings

Very tall and imposing!

A bike parked on a wall. Not sure I fancy the saddle!

The old and the new ways, or the poor and the rich

Seoul has many modern shopping centres but there are also more traditional places

Always good to stop for a break. Seoul has a plethora of different coffee outlets. I don't think I've ever seen so many different individually owned ones apart from the usual brand names

Bright and bold signage

An indoor market area selling mostly food

A string of fish

This is obviously a popular item

The canal I mentioned earlier. It is the ChonGae Canal. As you can see it is very clean and I saw a lot of fish including some pretty big ones.

It's  a great place to be on a sunny late afternoon as the sun begins to set. It was originally a naturally formed river that collected mountain streams and channeled water to the open sea.

Night is falling an I'm back at City Hall where things are beginning to happen. I don't know what this large rope was for. Tug o' War?

Suddenly I heard music and went over to find the source

Traditionally and colourfully dressed musicians

They walked/danced around Seoul Plaza

I don't know the significance of these lovely paper flowers but they are a very colourful way to end this post. Next I'll post photos of another Royal Palace