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

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, S.Korea

Welcome! Having returned from the DMZ I had a quick lunch and made my way to Gyeongbokgung Palace. It's hard to get an unobstructed view of the Gwanghwamun gate. It is the main and largest gate of the Palace

The Palace was first constructed in 1395 but was destroyed by fire, left in ruin for 3 centuries then reconstructed and destroyed again by the Empire of Japan. Since then, the walled palace complex has been gradually restored back to its original form

This chap is re-enacting the Royal Guards

The Palace was built by King Taejo, the first king and the founder of the Joseon Dynasty

Part of the Changing of the Guard ceremony

Once inside there are several inner gateways with large courtyards. Space was not an issue!

It reminded me a little of the Forbidden City in Beijing

Classic design

The final gateway leading to Geunjeongjeon, the Throne Hall

This is Geunjeongjeon, the Throne Hall. the king formally granted audiences to his officials, gave declarations of national importance, and greeted foreign envoys and ambassadors

You can't go inside the buildings much in the Palace but you can look. This a peek inside one of them

Gangnyeongjeon, the King's Quarters, where he lived and did all those things that us ordinary folk do

It has taken years to restore the Palace and even now a little scaffolding can be seen

Simple, but lovely door

I liked the soft orange. More delicate than the bright red of many temples in China

Lots of rectangles!

The late afternoon sun always helps the photographer

Gyotaejeon, the Queen's Quarters. They didn't live together then....

Local girls who whose job it was seemed to be to pose for people like me!

A corner

Window view

I turned a corner and this lovely surprise took my breath away. It is Gyeonghoeru, the Royal Banquet Hall

Suddenly the air was full of the rhythm of drums

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, is a hall that was used to hold important and special state banquets

Like many buildings it was burned down during the Japanese invasions of Korea in 1592. The present building was constructed in 1867 (the 4th year of the reign of King Gojong)

The lake is artificial

The women didn't just play the drums with great skill but they danced too

To add to the enjoyment I was also treated to beautiful Korean singing by the man on the boat with the fan. It sounded like Opera. A magic moment in a magic place

Yours truly, the photographer

Pagodas and long shadows

Away from the main buildings of the Palace were some others that looked like they might have been residences of perhaps the Royal Guard or other personnel that served the Palace. This beautiful gate led to those buildings

Sunset arriving

Almost at the end of the day but there was one more beautiful surprise, Hwangwonjeong

Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, is a small, two-storey hexagonal pavilion built around 1873 by the order of King Gojong

The bridge is called Chwihyanggyo. The name Hyangwonjeong loosely translates as "Pavilion of Far-Reaching Fragrance," while Chwihyanggyo translates as "Bridge Intoxicated with Fragrance

I'm now leaving the Palace and night is falling

The gate is beautifully illuminated. It was difficult to get the whole gate into the picture because of the road and traffic immediately behind me

Fabulous roof

Next time I'll post photos I took as I walked around parts of Seoul. Thanks for coming!