Can’t believe we are actually in South Korea. Still haven’t got used to the 8 hour time difference, however, today has been our first whole day to explore South Korea and its rich culture which has left me gobbed smacked.This morning we met up with our guide Steve Kim (believe it or not, he is 61) and headed to Changdeokgung Palace.The well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage palace of Changdeokgung, is one of the “Five Grand Palaces” built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897). After its destruction during the Japanese invasion (1592-1598), it was rebuilt in 1610 and served as the main palace for about 270 years. Known as “Donggwol” or the Eastern Palace, the Changdeokgung Palace was said to be the favoured residence of the many Joseon Dynasty kings attributing not only to its size but to the over-all ambiance of harmony with nature. From the main gate to the many building complex inside, Changdeokgung will not disappoint anyone who wanted to get to know more of Korea’s historical imperial side.
Steve took us to this amazing restaurant (Gogung) where he advised us to have bibimbap, and jesus it was frikin delicious. I am usually a picky eater, but coming to Korea I wanted to immerse myself within the culture and try to eat as much traditional Korean food as possible.Bimbimbap consists of rice on the bottom, a few different kinds of sautéed vegetables, an egg, and toasted seaweed flakes and sesame seeds on top. If that doesn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what will (just look at the pictures bellow). It is served in a scorching earthenware bowl, which then we start mixing immediately so the rice doesn’t get too crunchy burnt on the bottom (don’t touch the bowl – I learned the wrong way). Also, the famous kimchi, although comes free alongside other side dishes, it is not compatible with my taste buds.
After the delicious lunch, we were left to explore Insadong. Insadong is a popular neighborhood in the heart of Seoul that is often visited by locals and tourists wanting to experience traditional culture of Korea. Streets and narrow back alleys are lined with art galleries, wooden tea houses, restaurants, cafes, and small shops selling arts and crafts.
We explored Ssamziegil which is a colorful shopping and culture complex that features cafes, galleries, and workshops that mix modern and traditional Korean styles. The complex opened in 2004 and now is a destination in itself and an important centerpiece of Insadong. Ssamziegil may be modern, but it is construction blends wondering into the surrounding traditional neighborhood.
Just came back from a massive hunt for a traditional noodle bar, but surprisingly finding one which offered veggie options was impossible, so us, being hungry as we were, we just settled down on this, what it seemed a Korean branch and I settled down for some sweetchile fried chicken with potato wedges (mix of Korean and western cousine).
Better get to bed now as we are heading tomorrow to Kookmin University, can’t wait!