Inspiring Korea: from a Palace to Shopping Paradise

Hi there everyone. How are you guys doing? I’ve been doing great and having one of my-too-much-energy cycle this week! Basically I’m happy and the most recent reason has to be…………..

I watched Jason Mraz’s live concert in Korea!!

exactly. the Jason Mraz. and he was awesome. he was. just unbelievable. But I dont want to talk about him right now, I’ll cover him up and the details of his concert in a beautiful place called Nami Island on the next post. 😀 so come back for updates! 🙂

Let’s talk about the trip. If I have to conclude everything in one sentence then it would be……….
“the trip to Korea involving too much walking and running” lol!
seriously people, coming home from Korea me and Rini realized that our feet are literally begging us to stop walking. xD

We set up from Narita Airport on Thursday, June 7th (yep I skipped 2 classes back then. bad student.) and easily found in which floor the check-in port for Asiana Airlines is, thanks all the way to Akira, one of our friend in the dorm. (He’s so nice, literally). Then, it turned out that we arrived way too early, and we have some spare hours to change money (Dont you ever ever ever in your life exchange your foreingn currency in an Airport, unless your condition is a life-threatening condition that FORCE you to do that in airport, meaning you dont have any other choice, meaning like me and Rini back then. Gee. they give you like the worst rate anybody could ever expected.). But I was glad then we arrived early because Rini got trouble because of her name. She has no last name printed on her passport or any of her official identification card and the people behind the counter kindly ask her to wait while they call to the office in Korea, to check if it is okay because when we booked her ticket we type ‘Rini’ at the first name column, and once again ‘Rini’ in the last name column. It was just the only thing we could do because apparentely you cant online-booked an online ticket without filling out your Last Name column.
The kind officers were smiling and told us that this is the first time they encounter case like this and quite confused and dont really know how they are supposed to handle this. Rini then told me it is not fair for the system to automatically judge that every single human being in the world have a last name. I was just laughed by then. But everything was well in the end, with Rini leaving the trace as the first person ever booked Asiana Airlines online ticket without last name. lol.
it’s okay, it makes her unique anyways.

We took some pictures while we were waiting for the flights and I managed to take some sunset photos of which I thought was a very beautiful scenery. My camera is good and I love her but she is not as good as an SLR and my sense of photography is rather retarded so you might not see the real beauty but at least I’m trying to give you a clue  of what it should look like. 😀

It must be aroun 5.30 pm because our flight was scheduled to take off at 07.00 pm and arrived at Incheon by 09.00 pm. The flight took a little longer tough and we arrived around 09.30 pm at Incheon. By the way I took this picture just before we entered the airplane and Rini was all about “you are such a papparazzi” to me but I was just laughed and say that because the result was good, it should be fine.

They provided a very very nice in-flight entertainment and you have a selection of good movies, music, concerts, news, sport matches and everything else. I was battling myself over watch a Korean drama or see a Holywood ones, but because we are going to Korea I feel like watching a Korea drama would add to the mood so I chose to watch this Never Ending Lovestory movie which was……. quite funny here and there but a bit boring.
I think Rini was watching some music event whit Korean bands and singer and we both pretty much trapped inside our own worlds and only talked when they served dinner (Honey-sauce chicken strips on rice, salad, bread with butter, mango pudding and orange juice) and both of us were delighted for the food because we were hungry and the food was delicious.
The flight was full of turbulence and in some time and another me and Rini would stop watching our drama and music and looked at each other, because the turbulence were pretty strong and often. But by God’s grace we landed safely and happy. I practically cried when we landed, and I felt silly. I have no idea why I cried. Okay, I have an idea why I did, still it doesnt explain me crying in the airplane. Super silly. It was just the idea that I really stepped in on places my dad stepped before moved me to the point I felt like a crybaby. It was really a sentimental reason *sigh* yet i was grateful for that. The other part is because Rini is a real flat person, with less expression than anybody could normally show, so I think part of me was also displaying the expression she could not display, because to come to Korea is a struggle for her and Korea is like her dream. She almost likes everything about Korea, more than she likes Japan, in my opinion.

Well then we hopped to the Airport Limousine Bus (cost us 10,000 won, which was around 675 Yen and that was approximately 80,500 Rupiah). I asked a woman in the Airport Limousine Bus front desk and she was trying to describe everything in a mix of English and body language. Rini speaks a bit Korean but she was worried because she does master the casual language, but almost have no idea about the formal ones and therefore, she was hesitant using it to strangers in Korea.
It was a one hour trip to Jonggak, Insa-dong, one of the busy street in Seoul and we easily found the guest house we reserved, Ciara920. It was so late, around 12 a.m, but the street was still crowded. This quite surprised me because in Chiba, you call it a night by around 8 p.m. The streets go so quiet and the houses decided not to turn on their lights for whatever reason they have and it makes the streets dark. So when I first stepped out of the bus,my thought was, “wow, this city looked a lot like Jakarta.”

so this is where we stayed for three nights. The service are pretty nice. The staffs are friendly and they also speak English so no problem with that. The rooms are small though, and you cant really rely on the breakfast they served. But it is pretty okay if you only intended to use the guesthouse as a sleeping place by nights and want to save money to do some fun things in Korea. They have a website in English, Japanese, Korean (of course) and Thai (the owner first built the guesthouse in Thailand) and you can check them out here.

I spent the first day in Korea with Rini, because the next day I have to go to Nami Island to watch Rainbow Festival (yes, the one with Jason Mraz in it) and Rini was not really into Nami Island. The other thing I soon noticed in Seoul is that there are A LOT of coffee shops and tea houses. MY. BEARD. They heave like soooo many cute homy classy little coffee shops and tea houses all over the street. I so could live here. lol. I captured one of the homey one here.

There are a lot of cafes like that all over the streets. You can pick your choice. I did not have time to go in and try though, our time in Seoul is so limited and entering a cafe is like number 100th priority so I skipped the cafe and promised myself if I ever come back to Seoul I so have to try one of those cafes. Oh, and people you know what? Seoul is a city of free internet services. Like, they even have the “Seoul Wi fi Spot” and several free services, even in their subways. And this amazed me, since I have been living in Japan for the past 9 months and in Japan you dont get anything free. I was beyond happy. BEYOND happy for this. So no worries folk, if you ever get lost you could always check the google map. Or if you need to know certain phrases in Korean language (which I so recommend), you can always refer to the internet. lol.

Our first stop was the Deoksugung Palace. It is located in Jung-gu, Seoul and we went there by the Seoul Metro Subway. Their subway system is amazing and really user friendly, even for foreigners. All you have to do is buy a card in the vending machine in the station, pick your language (English, Japanese, Chinese), pick your destination and enter the money. Here I found a pretty useful web you can use to search the whole subway stations. It consisted the time required to go to places you want to, the fares and the information for first and last train, plus a timetable for the trains. For those of you who are familiar enough with Hyperdia, you might find it similar to this one. So click here if you want to check out the Seoul Metro site. Trust me, you might find it handy.

So, back to Deoksugung Palace. It is a super BIG complex of Palace. It is not as popular as the Gyeongbukgung Palace, but it is a place worth to visit. For a complex that big, I was surprised to learn that it was actually the SMALLEST palace among five palaces that survived in Seoul. Deoksugung means palace of virtue and longevity, and was built for Emperor Gojong, in hope that he would gain a long life. Pictures worth a thousand words I think, so just check out the photos!

Among the five pavilions they have in Deoksugung, I personally like this pavilion below the best. It was not the biggest one, but I enjoyed its beauty so much. It added a really old feeling to the whole complex, Entering this palace brings you back to the Kings Age and I was thrilled I have the chance to visit this place. 😀

And guys, this pavilion look so MUCH like Jogjakarta Palace (Keraton Jogjakarta) and I was so surprised when I see it.

The view in front of this pavilion was also beautiful. It was full of trees and there was this rock path and it felt great to just stay there.

There are  a lot of spaces in the palace complex that take form as gardens and small paths. And it was so easy for me to start imagining if ever there was kings and queens, princes and princesses, royal guards and royal families who walked through this places everyday. It is always amazing to see the traces of the past. I wished I have learnt a bit of Korean History so I can even more fully understand the essence of this Palace.

Ooow!! Ooowww!!! And when we headed back home to the front gate, there were this Royal Guards guys around and they were practicing the Royal Guards Changing Ceremony and there was this guy that appear as the general and he gave commands in Korean and everything. And I was like, oh-we-so-have-to-see-this and can-we-take-pictures-with-them?? thing to Rini and was really really excited.

Arent they look soooo coool?? And we found another cool thing!! There was this Hanbok (Korean traditional costume) stand and you can borrowed a Hanbok and wear it around (you cant enter the castle with it though) and took picture in front of the gate. At first I was really shy, because it was ike everyone looked at us, some uneasily, some with curious faces and a lot with friendly and approval smile. But 2 minutes later I was kind of getting the hang of it and enjoyed myself pretty much with the Hanbok thing.

…………………………..And strike a pose with the cool general!!

p.s. why did my hair looked so out of control??? graaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

After we were done with the Hanbok thing (because we were literally asked to return the Hanbok since they have people lining up now for the Hanbok), we walked around a bit, found this old church (which was beauutiful) and talked about what we should do next.

Then we decided to pay a visit to Cheonggyecheon, which was famous for the beautiful river and ended up in an unknown street. lol.
the street, once again, looked so much like Jakarta, I almost felt like Im home.

LOOK! Dont you think this is SO JAKARTA?? They have warteg, people, warteg. I am impressed.

So to speak, we finally found the place we were looking for, and it was indeed beautiful. It offers a refreshment after walking and walking and walking and it was real hot. But arriving here in Cheonggyecheon was a good thing, because, yes, it was beautiful.

We had a good time there in the river and decided to go for lunch after that. It turns out that this place was real close to Dongdaemun Market, the world renown market for every fashion item imaginable with cheap prices. It took sooo long for me and Rini to finally learn that the place we have been walking through for so many times was actually the Dongdaemun Market (feel stupid) and we were damn tired. But once we got rest for a while…………………………….
its SHOPPING time!!! I seriously, SERIOUSLY recommending this place to you all! This place is ridiculously fun for shopping. Its a heaven for shoppers and the prices are affordable and the items are super cute. I was crazy. Rini was crazy. We were like…….. oh no there is no end to this shopping time. No way this can not be. lol lol lol.
I didnt take any picture of the place since we have been so busy shopping, lol. Sorry for that folks. But I was real happy and that concludes the adventure for the first day. I will be writing about Nami Island, Rainbow Festival and Jason Mraz on the next post so come back later and check the all the fun, okay? 🙂

Kisses from the stars, hug your loved ones tonight!

Published by reylasano

she writes your stories

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