Visiting the homes of Kings

8 04 2010

We returned to the Insadong area and went to Gyeongbokgung Palace, arriving just in time for the 10am changing of the guard. The background of the mountains behind the palace and the sparse walled courtyards gave a feeling of space and desertedness.

There were many school groups and tours going on, but the grounds were spacious enough that once we passed the front gate it was quiet.

After the palace we walked to Insadong street and bought some metal Korean chopsticks. Then we went to ‘Vegetarian Restaurant’ for lunch. It’s actually another Loving Hut, although not named as one. The meal sizes were large – we had spring rolls, sweet and sour soy protein and fried noodles with Chinese sauce (it was quite spicy) – and were feeling very full at the end of it. The restaurant is down an alley off Insadong-jil and if we hadn’t read a photo-map-directions on the net we probably wouldn’t have found it.

After lunch we needed to walk off the food. We visited another palace, Changgyeonggung Palace. Being a Thursday, only self-guided tours we available for a higher entry fee, but it included entry into Biwon, the Secret Garden. We spent almost 3 hours wandering around the expansive grounds, but since spring hasn’t really reached Seoul yet the gardens were dry and barren (winter is dry season). We did get to see squirrels, early cherry blossoms and a woodpecker. The colourful roofed pavillions reminded us of the Nikko temples.

We needed to our feet a rest so we cooked dinner in the hostel and did a load of washing before watching TV – channel 510 Star Craft channel (watch people play Star Craft games on TV).