Day Seven: Palaces (Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung), The Elusive Red Mango, Time with K, Our Last Night

We didn’t want to believe this was our last day in Seoul. I wish we’d had more time. There were lots of places we didn’t see, things we wanted to do but ran out of time…I can’t say enough about how great Seoul is, or what an enjoyable city it is to explore.

Day seven was palace day. All week we’d been reading about the two main palaces and planning to spend a morning visiting them. The two palaces are Gyeong-bok Palace (gung) and Chang-deok Palace (gung). I’ll do my best of giving you a tour of them through our own experience, but the websites of the two palaces give nice tours, too.

Gyeong-bok-gung (Palace of Shining Happiness) websites: Main site and Tourism site

Chang-deok-gung (Palace of Illustrious Virtue) websites: Virtual Tour site, Tourism site

We started out early, planning to catch the first tour (9:30) at Changdeokgung, taking a cab so we’d get there on time. We waited around to buy tickets, and when D got back from the ticket booth we realized our mistake: the 9:30 tour was at Gyeongbokgung, not Changdeokgung. Doh!

Waiting outside Changdeokgung gate:

The palaces are on the same street, separated by a small neighborhood, but we knew we’d probably miss the 9:30 tour. That messed up the whole day’s plans, since now we wouldn’t be able to take tours of both palaces before our afternoon meeting time at the orphanage. We improvised.

The neighborhood between the two palaces is called Bukchon, and it’s one of the only neighborhoods in Seoul that still has a lot of hanok (traditional Korean one-story homes with tiled roofs). The neighborhood is over 600 years old, and long ago was where the yangban (scholars and aristocrats) lived. I was looking forward to seeing it after seeing these great photos at the Marmot’s Hole.

We set off from Changdeokgung without any real clue about where to look to see hanok. In general it’s not a good idea to wing it with directions when you’re short on time, and this was no exception. While we had a nice walk, we didn’t find what we were looking for. Most of what we walked through in Bukchon was more modern…lots of galleries, upscale shops, a few beautiful gated homes. We also walked by the Bukchon Culture Center:

Thinking of time and efficiency we skipped it, thinking (surely) the hanok would be in the area. Nope. Efficiency would have been asking for directions.

FYI, if you’re looking for the hanok, there’s a walking tour map in the Lonely Planet Guide (didn’t find that out until we were home). It looks like the traditional houses are in the far northeastern part of the neighborhood, not the southern part with the Culture Center and the shops.

I snapped this shot of cabbage and red pepper paste delivered in front of a shop…looks like someone’s going to be making a little kimchi, maybe?

We arrived on the far eastern side of Gyeongbokgung (palace), near the entrance for the National Folk Museum, and we didn’t realize we could enter there. So we hiked it allllllll the way around the palace walls to the western gate Yeongchunmun (Gate of Welcoming Autumn). The palace’s main gate, Gwanghwamun, is being renovated and is closed.

When we arrived the changing of the guard was taking place. We ran across the plaza to see as much of it as we could:

The gate in the background is called Heungnyemun gate, and it must have been rebuilt recently. The original gate was torn down in 1926 by the Japanese, who built their capitol building on the site. From Moon South Korea, Third Edition:

Significantly, it [the Japanese capitol] was placed within the boundaries of Gyeongbokgung (the front wall of which had to be moved), directly in line between the throne…the traditional pinnacle of power in Korea…and Gwanghwa-mun [gate], the figurative point of contact between the king and his people. This symbolically severed any vestige of royal authority; and replaced it with the supremacy of the Japanese governor.

Before I get going, a quick history of Gyeongbokgung:

  • Built by King Taejo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty, in 1394
  • Was Seoul’s main palace until 1592, when it was burned in a Japanese invasion
  • Left abandoned until 1865, when 200 structures were rebuilt for King Gojong (nearly bankrupting the government)
  • Raided by the Japanese in 1895; Queen Min was murdered, King Gojong fled
  • During Japan’s colonial rule, much of the palace buildings were taken down. A dozen or so remained.
  • Reconstruction of Gyeongbokgung began in 1990 and continues today.
  • For a map of the palace check out the two websites listed above

Okay…onward.

After the changing of the guard was complete, we walked up and through Heungnyemun gate. One of the guards:

Inside was Yeongjegyo bridge, a river (most if not all the royal palaces have a river in front of the palace and a mountain behind it) and Geunjeongmun Gate, the entrance to the central courtyard:

Geunjeongmun Gate, with Geunjeongjeon behind it:

Geunjeongjeon (The Throne Hall, or “Hall of Government by Restraint”) and courtyard:

From the Royal Palaces website:

Major events, such as coronations and receiving foreign envoys, were held around Geunjeongjeon. During the functions, court officials found their places according to the rank stones planted on the courtyard. The courtyard is paved with thin, wide and rectangular stones. The surfaces are finished rather roughly, so as to give a less monotonous look and prevent the sun from blinding people standing on the courtyard. In the courtyard, other important functions took place, such as parties for elderly civil servants and qualifying examinations for appointment to civil offices.

The ranking stones are interesting. Civilian officials stood on the right, a symbol of being more influential. Military officials stood on the left, except in times of war when places were reversed. From the Moon guide: “In the collective Confucian mind of traditional Koreans, this ranking of civilian over military points to the supremacy of those who live and act by the pen over those who rely upon the sword.”:

Geunjeongjeon:

On the steps leading up there are animals including Haetae, the legendary animals of judgment, said to guard against disaster, prejudice, and violent change:

Centered in the staircase is a carving of a phoenix, representing authority and the king:

The layout of Geunjeongjeon (click to enlarge):

The royal throne and throne room:

Looking up:

Dancheong (characteristic decorative painting) and pillars:

Leaving the Geunjeongjeon courtyard to the west, looking back at Geunjeongmun Gate:

The west wall of the throne hall complex:

Our next stop was Gyeonghoeru pavilion (“Pavilion of Joyous Gathering”), built in the 1400s. It was built to the west of the king’s living quarters, and was used for royal banquets. The current structure dates from 1867. From the plaque: Its architecture manifests the Oriental philosophy of the universe. The three bays at the center of the elevated floor symbolize heaven, eart, and man, and the twelve bays outside them symbolize the twelve months of the year. The outermost 24 columns symbolize the 24 solar terms that mark particular astronomical or natural events of each year.

Mt. Inwangsan to the west:

In front of Gyeonghoeru:

Next we headed east, to the area behind the Throne Hall (Geunjeongjeon). There are three buildings there, the largest of which is Sajeongjeon Hall (“Hall of Cultivating Government”). These are the buildings where the King met with his officials and studied. It is also where he supervised the official qualifying exams for civil service. This picture shows Manchunjeon Hall (“Hall of Ten Thousand Springs”), one of the two smaller halls on each side of Sajeongjeon:

Inside Sajeongjeon:

Dragon in the clouds painting hanging over the king’s seat:

South of the Sajeongjeon quarters are the king’s and queen’s living quarters. Here’s a map:

Gangnyeongjeon is the King’s living area. It was also used for his daily activities and office duties. Behind it is Gyotaejeon, the queen’s residence. Gangnyeongjeon:

Inside:

Painting on the king’s quarters:

Info and map (click to enlarge):

Looking from the veranda, roof lines and a well:

The queen’s living area, Gyotaejeon, has a very distinctive brick wall and brick chimneys with designs incorporating Chinese characters. The Gyotaejeon compound as seen from the Jagyeongjeon compound:

At the very back of the living quarters is a hillside garden called Amisan (also scroll down here):

From the plaque:

Behind the queen’s residence is a terraced garden along whose length stand four hexagonal chimneys. The chimneys are made of light-orange bricks and topped with raftered tiled roofs. The various decorations on the chimney are imbued with symbolic meanings. The phoenix symbolizes the queen, the bat symbolizes fortune, the plum and chrysanthemum symbolize a man of virtue, and the ten longevity symbols such as the crane, deer, herb of eternal youth, pine tree, bamboo, and stone symbolize longevity. On the bottom terrace are two stone tubs named Hamwolji and Nakhadan, which mean “a pond containing the moon” and “a pond that reflects the sunset.” The terraced garden symbolizes a mountain; the stone tub and pot symbolize a lake; and the motif decorations on the chimneys symbolize the world of plants and animals. Thus, the garden of Amisan was a natural world for immortals.

View of Mt. Inwangsan from Amisan:

A doorway as we were leaving the living quarters:

Behind the living quarters and Amisan there is another section of royal buildings, and beyond that is HyangwonjiPond and Hyeongwonjeon Pavilion:

When King Gojongrebuilt Gyeongbokgungin the late 1800s, he had this pond and island built. On the island is a hexagonal pavilion called Hyangwonjeong (“Pavilion of Far-Reaching Fragrance”). The bridge is called Chwihyanggyo (“Intoxicated with Fragrance”). Behind the Pavilion is Mt. Bugaksan.

That’s all we were able to see of Gyeongbokgung. There’s a lot more to explore…it’s a huge area. You can get some idea of it by looking at these two maps.

I’m not sure what the map says, but I’m guessing this is a map of what Gyeongbokgung looks like today (click to enlarge):

This map shows a more complete Gyeongbokgung before it was destroyed (or possibly once all the reconstruction is finished?):

To the east of Gyeongbokgung is a substantial area of land dedicated to the National Folk Museum. When you enter from the palace grounds, there’s a zodiac with statues of the twelve animals:

The building at the top of the stairs used to be the National Museum, but now it’s the National Folk Museum (tour info):

As we walked toward the exit, we passed a display of jangseung, rock or wood totem poles set up at the entrances of villages or by a roadside. They had various purposes. At the entrance of a village they kept out evil spirits. Located between two villages they indicated village boundaries. Along roadsides, they were guardians and guideposts for travellers:

At the entrance to the Folk Museum, we hailed a cab and zoomed off to Changdeok Palace (after the cab driver gave us a lesson on how to pronounce the vowels properly…it’s embarrassing how poorly we were able to communicate sometimes, but people were always so patient with trying to understand us). The main gate of Changdeokgung as we arrived:

Changdeokpalace is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Seoul’s best preserved palace. You have to book a tour to see it, but on Thursdays you can buy admission that lets you wander the grounds on your own. Next time we come to Seoul, we’ll be buying tickets for that day. The tour was wonderful, and we enjoyed it a lot, but Changdeokgung is so large, so lovely, that we’d love the chance to wander around it for hours.

We bought our tickets, got our map, and met our guide…a very nice woman with perfect English, wearing a VERY warm guide outfit on a VERY hot day. Seriously…it must have been 90 and humid, and she was wearing gloves. UNESCO requires some serious dedication from its staff. The brochure map (click to enlarge):

A painting of both palaces from the late 1820s (click to enlarge):

Again, Chang-deok-gung (Palace of Illustrious Virtue) websites: Virtual Tour site, Tourism site

If you compare the Changdeok map to the Gyeongbok map, you’ll notice a big difference in the two, and something that makes Changdeok Palace unique. Rather than being set in rigid directions or patterns, the buildings harmonize with the natural setting in an asymmetric way. Changdeokgung is also unique because of its beautiful forest, a 78-acre woodland called Biwon (“Secret Garden”).

A quick history of Changdeokgung:

  • Originally constructed in 1405, it was a side palace to Gyeongbokgung
  • Burned during the Japanese invasions in the 1590s , rebuilt in 1610
  • Gyeongbokgungwas abandoned after the invasion, and Changdeokgung became the primary palace
  • It served as the primary royal palace for almost 300 years, until Gyeongbokgung was rebuilt in 1860s
  • Renovated in 1907, and used by Korea’s last king, Sunjong, until his death in 1926
  • His widow (Queen Yun) lived there until her death in 1966, and the last royal family member lived there until her death in 1989

The tour begins at the outer gate, Donhwamun (“Gate of Mighty Transformation”). Like Gyeongbokgung, there are three gates before reaching the throne room, a stream in front of the palace, and a mountain behind the palace (Mt. Bugak). Crossing a stream before entering the palace was based on the geomantic belief of pungsu (fen shui). The flowing water was thought to secure auspiciousness and prevent harm.

Geumcheongyo (“Forbidden Stream”) Bridge was built in 1411:

When you cross it, you reach the second gate, Jinseonmun (built in the 1700s):

Beyond Jinseonmun there is a courtyard. Injeongmun Gate (“Benevolent Government Gate”) is to the left and leads to the throne hall. Across the courtyard is Sukjangmun gate, leading to the royal residences Heuijeongdang and Nakseonjae. The different levels of walking paths were for different ranks. The king used the central path, his officials used the secondary paths, and ordinary citizens used the ground paths.

A view of the throne hall, Injeongjeon, from Injeongmun Gate. As at Gyeongbokgung, there are stone markers for when officials gathered, and raised walkways for the king and his officials.

the stone markers:

Injeongmun was first built in 1405, rebuilt after fire in 1609, and modified slightly in 1908 (interior changes like electric lights). The throne:

Next was Seonjeongjeon Hall (“Hall of Good Administration”), where the king discussed state affairs with high-ranking officials. It’s famous for its blue-tiled roof, which were very expensive and luxurious even for kings. The blue roof:

A covered corridor, used in the funeral processions when Seonjeongjeon was used as a royal shrine:

The administrative buildings connect the throne hall to the king’s living quarters, Heuijeongdang. Looking up at the painting on one of the side buildings (I don’t think you can visit Korea without taking this shot on at least once):

More of the dancheong painting:

Looking toward the royal quarters:

Beautiful red and green doorways (our guide said the red and green paints were used to keep moisture and insects from deteriorating the wood):

A type of lock we saw often at the palaces and on antiques in Korea:

A map of the royal living quarters:

The gate to enter the royal living quarters:

In Daejojeon, the royal bed:

The sign above reads “Hall of Great Creation,” and given that this is where the heir was produced, it makes sense. We were told the reason the hall is the only one without a ridge on its roof also has to do with creating an heir. Roof ridges are called yongmaru, or dragon spine. The queen’s sleeping quarters does not have a dragon ridge because the dragon symbol might interfere with the creation of a new king, or dragon.

The courtyard is filled with gravel, so that guards could hear anyone as they approached where the king and queen were sleeping:

The living chambers had ondol heating, a heated floor unique to Korean homes (both traditional and modern). Traditionally, furnaces were placed under the living space, and warm air from the furnace filled the small space between floors. The small square with white bricks is the furnace, with a small door beneath for scraping out old coals:

Behind the living quarters, as at Gyeongbokgung, there is a garden on a hillside with decorative chimneys:

Walking east along the garden, you reach a small stone gate…the royal entrance to Biwon, the Secret Garden:

Biwon is a spectacularly beautiful place, with ancient trees, rolling forested hills, and lotus-covered ponds. We only got to see a small fraction of it. From the Seoul City Virtual Tour website:

The rear garden of Changdeokgung Palace was landscaped during the reign (1401 ~1418) of the Joseon Dynasty’s 3rd king, Taejong. Here the dynasty’s kings and princes studied, hunted, practiced martial arts, or offered worship rites to the gods of heaven and earth. Keeping its original state until today, this garden boasts trees more than 300 years old, and a crystal-clear stream meanders through it. Alongside the ponds in lush garden are beautiful pavilions in varied shapes and styles of the Joseon Dynasty. The rear garden was formed in the same year the Changdeokgung Palace was built in 1405. In the later colonial period, an organization which was called Biwon, the Secret Garden, was established to maintain it. The garden has been so called ever since. Pavilions, gardens, trees, and ponds are harmoniously tuned with the topographical configuration and surrounding natural settings.

Beyond a steep hill behind Yeon-gyeongdang Manor, at the foot of Chwihanjeong Pavilion, flows Ongnyucheon Stream. At the western hillside from the Chwihanjeong is Eojeong, the Royal Well, covered with a pyramidal capstone, which is believed to gush the most refreshing water inside Changdeokgung Palace. Water from the Royal Well runs down into the Ongnyucheon Stream, whose water is often described as bejeweled with jade-blue beads. In the olden days, the royal family and court functionaries enjoyed reciting poems or songs while cups of wine floated on the stream.

We headed down a wide access road toward a pond and a gathering of buildings:

To our left, Buyongjeong Pavilion, Buyongji Pond, and two buildings on a hill (Juhamnu and Seohyanggak) used for academic studies:

To our right, a large open area and Yeonhwadang:

Our guide gave us a brief history of each building, then we were free to wander the area on our own:

First, Buyongi Pond. From the brochure: Buyongji is a pond that was created based on the traditional perception of the universe, that heaven is round and the earth is rectangular. The rectangular pond refers to the earth, while the round island in the middle symbolizes heaven.

Buyongjeong Pavilion is a striking building jutting out over the pond. From the palaces website:

The applicants who passed the examination in the Yeonghwadang went to the Juhamnu, in which they studied tens of thousands of the books collected in the royal library. When the course of the study was finished, a commemorative party was held at the Buyongjeong pavilion. Even though the Buyongjeong is a small building, the surface of it is in the shape of ‘亞’ and it is very complex. The two legs of the Buyongjeong are in a pond, which looks like a beautiful lotus flower in full blossom in the pond.

The lotus roof:

Opposite Buyongjeong Pavilion is Juhamnu, a large building on a terraced hill with a gate before it and a smaller building at its side. From the plaque:

The two-story Juhamnu Pavilion was built in 1776, the same year that King Jeongjo ascended to the throne. The first floor served as the book repository of Gyujanggak, the Royal Library, and the second floor was a reading room. Gyujanggak was established as a library and a research institute to develop policies in support of the king’s reforms. From the time he became crown prince, King Jeongjo was under constant threat by his political foes, but he did not yield and worked hard to strengthen his mind and body. He went on to become a great leader, who enlightened his people.

On the way up to Juhamnu one passes through a small gate named Eosumun, whose name reflects the wisdom that a fish cannot live out of water. It served to remind King Jeongjo that a ruler must always consider the people.

The Junhamnu literally means the “Pavilion where every kind of principle of the universe gathers.” In other words, it’s here that all future officials-to-be read and study.

Juhamnu and Eosumun:

Looking up at Juhamnu and one of the side gates (for officials…only the king used the center gate):

To the right of the pond is Yeonghwadang. From the palaces website: The Korean society of the Joseon dynasty was organized and administered by the scholar gentry, recruited from the class of petty landlords through an examination system which was called “Gwageojedo” in Korean. It’s here in the Yeonghwadang that such an examination called “Jeonsi” was held. But this is was originally the place where the king and his subjects enjoyed poetry and flowers. It was from King Jeongjo’s reign that such an examination was held here.

Yeonghwadang, where the king sat and supervised the exams for civil and military officials:

Chundangdae, the yard where the exams took place:

We left the Buyongji area and continued south. There was another large lotus pond on the other side of this gate, Bullomun Gate:

It was carved from a single piece of stone (symbolizing never aging, or being broken), and the inscribed message is a wish for the king to live a long life. “Bullo” means “not to age.”:

Aeryeonji Pond and Aeryeonjeong Pavilion:

Aeryeonji means “loving the lotus.” The lotus is a symbol of being virtuous. I’m not sure, but perhaps it’s tied to the Buddhist meaning of the lotus.

While I struggled to get a photo without people in it, D suggested I look up. I’m glad he did:

Walking away from Aeryeongji pond:

We looped through the forest briefly (oh, how much I would have loved to have “gotten lost”!), then walked around and above the Buyongji area. The roofs of Juhamnu and Seohyanggak:

We left Biwon and entered back into the main palace grounds, this time on the other side of the royal living quarters. To our right was Injeongjeon Hall (the throne hall):

Our last stop was the Nakseonjae area:

The area consists of royal living quarters that are very different in style than the rest of the palaces. Some of the buildings date back to the 1600s, but they’re not different because of their age. Rather, the palace was constructed as a simple, personal space for King Heonjong to relax and read. Our guide said he preferred to live a more humble life, and wanted to live in a space without the bright decorative patterns and opulence of the main palaces:

Nakseonjae is also the area where the royal family lived during the 20th century. The last royal family member, the wife of the last Crown Prince lived here until she passed away in 1989.

Plain dark wood:

Our guide in the courtyard:

A beautiful wall:

Inside Nakseonjae (where members of the royal family lived until recently):

That was the end of our tour. We walked back through the side gate, Sukjangmun, and past the throne gate (Injeongmun). As we passed, there was a group of white-clad nuns on their tour. I couldn’t resist a picture:

We said goodbye to our tour guide, then exited through Geumhomun Gate. We’ll almost certainly be back. The chance to wander through Biwon would be heavenly, and I want to see the Ongnyucheon area very, very much (it’s a brook that runs through a U-shaped groove over a large flat rock…the king used to float his wine cup on the water while he wrote poetry).

Geumhomnun Gate:

One second you’re in the middle of Joseon Dynasty splendor, the next you’re out on the road:

We took a taxi back to Insadong (it was HOT, and taxis are cool, and we were loving the ease of hailing cabs). For days we’d really wanted to try dessert at Red Mango, but time after time we’d come just at closing or just before they opened. Red Mango became The Elusive Red Mango. A scorcher of a day seemed like a perfect time for frozen fruity yogurtyness…surely it would be open!

It was!

Frozen yogurt on top of grapefruit ice, with banana, kiwi, watermelon, and pink grapefruit sauce. Yum!

D opted for the creamiest, coolest, sweetest coffee drink on the menu:

As we were relaxing in the restaurant, these guys walked into Insadong, did something official (I’m guessing), then walked back out. Seeing them chatting and walking around taxis in their official costumes was odd:

That afternoon we were supposed to meet Mrs. S. and K at the orphanage. We headed back to the hotel to change (and to nurse my sunburn…ouch!), then found our own way out to the orphanage. Mr. C., you’d be proud! We didn’t get lost at all!

We got to the orphanage 20 minutes late, and unfortunately we missed Mrs. S. by just a few minutes. We didn’t realize she’d be there for such a short time, and we’re so sorry we missed her.  Thankfully we’ve been able to stay in touch by email, but it would have been nice to see her again.

K was frightened to be in a strange place with strange people, and seemed only a little comforted by our presence.  Still, she was very sad and very scared, and she was running a slight temperature. She took a short nap in the arms of the nanny while we were given a tour of the orphanage, but she woke easily and couldn’t settle herself. We held her, rocked her, and patted her back with the forcefulness of the Korean nanny.  Nothing seemed to help. Eventually she calmed to gentle rocking, and us singing the songs from the cd we’d sent in her care package months earlier.  She took a long nap in my arms, and when she woke up she was cheerful. We played, rattled keys, rolled balls, and shared watermelon.

We spent hours there, and it was hard to leave her. I know it wasn’t up to us, but I wish she could have spent her last night with Mrs. S., in the home she knew with the people she loved. D and I both felt awful about the stress she must have been feeling during that long last night in Seoul. I know she was held almost all night, but even then they said she had a difficult time.

Early the next morning, she’d be at the airport and we’d fly home. That thought felt strange as we left the orphanage, and it felt even stranger at the airport when it was actually happening.

When we left the orphanage, we stopped again at E-Mart. We wanted to buy a enough of K’s favorite snack foods, baby barley tea, a few baby toys for the plane, and a combination Baduk/Janggi board we saw on our earlier trip. We also couldn’t resist getting some “Choco Diget” (chocolate digestives) and “Binch” cookies for D’s family…we thought they’d get a kick out of those:

By the time we got back to the hotel is was getting very late. Time to think about dinner, then the long job of packing. The restaurant Gogung was highly reviewed and nearby, so we thought we’d check it out. Turns out it was in the lower level of the same plaza P and J took us to for dinner on our first night in Seoul.

Gogung has a nice atmosphere, with lots of brightly colored bojagi as decoration:

The side dishes, or banchan:

White cabbage kimchi (baekkimchi):

Delicious and beautiful:

Moju, a thick, sweet slightly alcoholic drink that tastes like cinnamon:

I ordered a dish that was described in English as “noodles and mixed vegetables,” and when it arrived it was jap chae. I wish I had a picture of it before our server mixed it up…it was lovely.

D ordered dolsot bibimbap, which is bibimbop served in a VERY hot stone pot. The rice and sauce sizzle, creating a delicious crust of rice along the bottom of the pot. Pre-mixed it looks like this:

After dinner, chilled tea (it tasted just like Bizeun’s eng tu cha):

We enjoyed our meal but we weren’t very festive. It was sad and stressful to think about K spending her first night away from Mrs. S., and we were sad to see our time in Seoul coming to an end. I wanted to linger along Insadong-gil, but I knew we had to get back to the hotel for packing. The next day we’d be taking a very, very long flight with a baby. A baby we didn’t really know, and a baby who definitely didn’t know us.

On the way home we passed the tea shop S. took us to just two nights ago:

We stopped to enjoy the kkultarae stand one more time, and watch the young Korean children beg their parents for a taste:

Back in the hotel we packed, packed, and packed even more. Two suitcases and two carry-ons on the way there had turned to four suitcases, a duffel, and two carry-ons on the way back. We said a short prayer to the luggage gods that nothing vital would be lost, packed all of K’s important mementos in the carry-ons, and went to sleep.

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~ by themagpiesnest on June 27, 2008.

9 Responses to “Day Seven: Palaces (Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung), The Elusive Red Mango, Time with K, Our Last Night”

  1. […] you go to Changdeokgung on Thursday, you can walk the palace grounds by yourself.  The tour (Day Seven) was fantastic, but it’s still a tour.  I wish we could have walked through Biwon, the […]

  2. Nice blog, was looking for info on Hotel SunBee. The blog ended abruptly and I am curious as to how are things with your daughter. Best Wishes for you, your husband and your daughter.

    • Thanks, Jimmy. Things worked out well. She had an arrival that’s pretty typical of some kids…lots of issues with sleep, and missing her foster family quite a bit (we guessed). A rough couple of months. After that it’s been great. K is doing very well, is talking up a storm, and is a rambunctious little addition to our family. We feel very blessed.

      If you stay at the SunBee, I hope you enjoy your stay! We had such a fun time there and in the surrounding neighborhood. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the blog. I appreciate it!

  3. Hi there, love your pictures and the explanations of them. Are you a professional photographer? We went to Korea too and stumbled upon your site while trying to look up names of places we went. My pictures turned out nowhere as well composed as yours!!

    • Thank you – I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos on the blog. :) No, I’m not a professional photographer, but I have taken some classes along the way. It’s a hobby I enjoy.

  4. Hi, thank you for this blog. It is awesome, I really enjoyed the pictures and had been looking for a good picture of Buyongjeong and i am impressed. I hope to visit Korea one day, i am American but have had a sort of Korean family since i was 18 and they even gave me a name lol. Anyways kamsamnida!

    • Kamsahamnida to you, as well! :) It’s so kind of you to read and comment. I’m very glad you liked the photos. I do hope you make it to Korea one day…it is such an incredibly beautiful (and easy) place to travel. People were very helpful and kind. Was there a reason you’d been looking for a picture of Buyongjeong?

  5. Beautiful pictures and the captions are very informative. I’ve learned a lot! Thanks! Is the blue house and the Bukchon village a walking distance from Gyeongbukgong palace? I am taking the subway, which station is better to get off? Is it the Gyeongbukgong station or the gwanghwamun station? Thank you!

    • Thanks for your comment– To find the locations and distances, it would be best to look at a map. I have maps embedded in my posts, but these are from five years ago. It would probably be best to google for the most recent subway maps. Good luck!

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