“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley
This post in particular is going to take you way back in time to the Joseon period, which is what people associate hanbok's (traditional Korean dress) with. For 30,000 won ($30 USD), you can rent a hanbok for two and a half hours and visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace. It is one of South Korea’s most famous landmarks, located in the center of Seoul. They even braid your hair with traditional Korean decorations! If you end up renting a hanbok, you don't have to pay the entrance fee! This applies to all genders and ages, so have your entire group do it because it's so cute.
Before you walk into the palace entrance, you'll see this sculpture. Apparently this is a traditional game for South Korean children. I still don't understand it after my cousin tried to explain it to me, so I'll just leave this here for your interpretation.
Walking through the palace courtyards was SO FUN and one of my favorite things we did in South Korea. I felt like a legit Korean princess…I mean, how could you not?! I loved imagining what life was like back then, how people thought, and what they went through.
Next to the palace is the Bukchon Hanok Village, which has many traditional houses. They are very expensive to live in since they are authentic and preserved. I felt like I was a character in a Korean drama walking by the houses in my hanbok. Yay for playing dress-up!
After visiting the village, we had mul mek (cold noodle similar to Japanese soba) for lunch. The crushed ice melted into the soup, which cooled me down from the inside out. We also ordered donkatsu (fried pork cutlet) to share. Ours came with melted cheese, masago (smelt fish egg), and spicy chili pepper. It was the perfect meal on this incredibly hot day!
After lunch, I had to take a quick photo with this character. Apparently, it was a promotion for the restaurant next door.
Koreans love to go to cafe's after a satisfying meal, so on to Osulloc Tea we went. Osulloc Tea is famous for their green tea and pat-bean-soo (shaved ice with sweet red bean). You can try free samples of green tea, and smell the roasting tea as soon as you walk in. We ordered the green tea flavored pat-bean-soo, which came with creamy green tea ice cream in the center. We also received a green tea macaron as part of a promotion they were hosting. It was green tea heaven!
Are you a matcha fanatic like I am? Click here to read about another great green tea dessert in Taipei, Taiwan! Added bonus-that post is one of my most personal ones yet, so show me some love and leave me a comment! Better yet, subscribe ;)
A short walk towards the center of the city lies the Admiral Yi Memorial. Admiral Yi is one of the most important leaders in Korean history because of his contributions to Korean society. He is most noted for the creation of Hangul (Korean alphabet). At the time, Korea was still using Chinese characters, which are very difficult to memorize. He wanted to make sure that the Korean people could read and write in their own language, and advocated for the entire country to be literate. The picture shown below is taken in front of the King Sajong Statue, and the Memorial entrance is behind it!
Just a ten-minute walk away lies the stunning Chun Gye Chung Stream. We arrived just as the sun began to set, and it was one of the most beautiful and happy memories I have of South Korea. It’s such a lovely place to relax after a long day at work or school, or in our case, site-seeing. I wondered what it would be like to live here and how nice it would be to get to stop by the Chun Gye Chung Stream for a brief moment every day. A girl could dream!
Since we had time to kill before dinner, we decided to visit to a Dog Cafe. These are becoming more popular in the U.S., but have been a long-time attraction in Asia. You pay for a drink as the entrance fee, which was a carbonated lemonade for me. It was soooo yummy!
I completely lost my composure when I saw the cutest little potato-I mean Corgi- wagging its little tail and playing. Corgi’s are one of my favorite breeds because of their short, stubby legs and round booty (hehe)! I was basically on the verge of crying from happiness. I mean, look at these photos. CAN YOU HANDLE THIS CUTENESS?! I barely did!
Our night led us to the Hangang Park, where young people come in groups to hang out with friends, enjoy the scenery, order take-out fried chicken and ramen from the convenience store, shoot fireworks, and drink beer. There were so many people there having a great time…it made me so happy! There were also lots of people who had set up make-shift karaoke stages by the river. Anyone could go up and sing to their heart’s content. Some singers get discovered this way, so you see so many hopefuls singing their hearts out multiple nights a week.
So far, South Korea has been SO MUCH FUN. There is so much to do, see, watch, and eat that each day is full of excitement. I can’t wait to share what’s next!
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Until next time,
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