Friday, March 30, 2012

Seoul Day 4

Fri 30/3

The tomb raider

Our final day was spent visiting yet another Unesco Heritage site, just around the city also to Seolleung / Jeongneung (a.k.a. Seonjeongneung) royal park tombs. We took the Seolleung Station (Seoul Subway Line No. 2). The weather is really cold today, no sunshine, so I had to wear the gloves. Admission is only KRW 1000.

Located in downtown Seoul, this place offers tranquil and pleasant promenades for couples and office workers. Seonjeongneung houses the burial mounds of King Seongjong (1469-1494), his wife Queen Jeonghyeon, and King Jungjong (1506-1544) of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
Upon entering the grounds, you can see a red gate (the red colour denoting holiness) with a taegeuk (yin-yang) symbol. The stone paths leading to the sacrificial building are noteworthy because there are two stone paths—the elevated path is for the dead King and the lower one is for living people. In the past the memorial rites were performed in the sacrificial building. Small sculptures on the eaves called Japsang were carved in the shape of animals such as monkeys and were believed to exorcise evil spirits. Next to the sacrificial building, there is a pavilion and a tombstone which is obviously the tomb of the King. Sculptures of sheep and tigers surround the tomb and are guardians of the dead King. There is also a statue of a military officer bearing a sword. In front of the tomb is an outstanding sight called the 'Mangjuseok,' which is a pair of stones designed to guide the dead King to his tomb. Unlike the tombs of the Kings, the queen’s tomb, Wanghureung, is simple. It doesn’t have any pavilions or sacrificial buildings, but is surrounded by only stone sculptures as guardians.

the path- only use the path on the right. the left path is for the king's spirit

That's the tombstone

Japsang sculpture

Japsang scupltures to ward off evil spirits

Seonjeongneung has a lush forest, and benches on the promenade provide an ideal place to relax. There are numerous small hills with clusters of trees that create a border between the mystery and serenity of the royal tombs and the hustle and bustle of downtown Seoul
Facts excerpted from here was cold

the forest

We then proceeded to the Namsangol Hanok Village. We took the Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3 or 4).
This village has five restored traditional Korean houses and a pavilion, a pond and a time capsule, which make it a perfect spot to take a walk. These houses were rebuilt after the traditional houses of Joseon Dynasty and belong to those of various social classes, ranking from peasants to the king. Admission is free, but if you want to participate in the activities, you have to pay some fees. Some of the activities are:
1) Five-colored Experience
2) Traditional Culture Experience Program for International Visitors
3) Learning Korean Traditional Dance and Music
4) Kite Flying (Nov-Feb)
5) Art Stage for Citizen
6) Namsangol Open Stage
7) Seoul Exhibition of Intangible Cultural Asset
8) Hanok Village Characters

from a real hanok village re-assembled

interior of hanok village

We tried the traditional wear - hanbok here. You have to pay KRW3000 to loan the costume, and have your own camera to take pictures of you in it of course! No photographer is around, so you have to ask for help from other visitors or the staff there.
Facts excerpted from here

Hanbok - besor lak baju tu hehe

Since it's still early, we decided to head to Seoul Tower, which is just behind the Namsangol Hanok Village, at Namsan Mountain. At the advice of Tammy, we took the yellow bus at Chungmuro station and payed KRW 550, and alighted at the base of the Seoul tower. As per Tammy's reccomendation, we didn't go up the tower, just hung around outside and took pictures. It was really cold! brrrr.... Admission fee to the tower is KRW9000. There is also the Namsan mountain park here where you could hike up to the Seoul tower. But you'd have to be fit to walk up :)

that's the yellow bus we took & behind is the tower

some hiking to be done to reach the tower

Seoul tower

We finished quite early today, plus it's extra cold. So we decided to head back to our halal eating place at Itaewon. We had Korean food again at Murree today. At the restaurant, we chatted with another group who took an 8 day trip to Korea which includes an excursion to Jeju island for 3 days. The island is absolutely beautiful. Next time perhaps.

Bibimbap and bulgogi

Murree Korea Muslim food- the one and only nearby Seoul Masjid @ Itaewon

Then we went back to our hostel, freshened up and took a stroll by the cleaned up Cheonggyecheon Stream just around the Dongdaemun area. There is also a bus tour but we didn't take it. It was really cold, so we jsut walked for a while, then head back to the hostel and had maggi mee for supper! We did saw some ducks swimming in the stream. Eeee these birds can stand the freezing water!

Cheonggycheon stream

Doota shopping mall

Looks yummy



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