On my last full day in Seoul I still had one must-see item on my list: a Korean palace! While there are multiple palaces in Seoul, I selected Changdeokgung based on my guidebook's recommendation, and Matt figured out the subway system to get us there! I have only seen Okinawan castle ruins, so the rebuilt wooden palace with multiple buildings and courtyards was completely different! The color palate was rust red and seafoam green with dragon gargoyles on every corner. We could only peek into the building that held the throne room, and the most impressive part to me was the ceiling with intricate designs. There were details painted everywhere!
We were able to walk around the castle grounds for free, but if we wanted to see the secret garden we had to pay and stay with a tour guide. I wanted to see the gardens since the castle itself was so beautiful, so despite my aching feet from walking to and from the subway we signed up for a 90 minute walking tour. We missed the last English tour, so our only language option left was Korean. The gardens were very beautiful with lotus ponds and tiny pavilions and old, old trees. However, Matt and I were able to read the paragraph of English on the sign at each location in two minutes, but the speaking portion of the tour lasted 15 to 20 minutes at each stop. We were not allowed to go at our own pace. Also, the lands are famous for "blending with the natural topography," but I discovered that means, once again, I was unexpectedly hiking up mountains.
|A manmade pool with a poem inscribed on the stone.|
Even though I wimped out after an hour of walking up hills (this is why I am not climbing Mt. Fuji next month), Matt took some beautiful photographs and I got to see an exotic palace!