Friday, January 1, 2016

Korea day 6 - Gwangjang market, Changdeok palace

The moment we step into Gwang jang market, we saw a pair of guides in their typical bright red uniform with a placard hanging around their neck indicating that this is a touristy spot. No doubt.

The market is well organized into neat alley ways selling different types of goods eg. souvenirs, fabric, seafood, ready-to-eat. 

Lots of seafood and dried goods on sale

The famous crispy mungbean pancake that everyone should try here.
Things are generally a tad pricey there but one good thing is bargaining is allowed if you buy more than 1 item at a shop. We had our fill of braised pig trotter, tteokbokki and bindaetteok. If I have a second stomach I would have tried the bibimbap and kimbap rolls.

We were greeted by the sight of colourful and beautiful hanbok, lining the Jongno 5 subway underground shops, as we made our way to take the train. This must be a popular place for Seoul dwellers to have their hanbok tailor-made.

Pretty embroidered scarves
Next, we made our way to see more pretty cherry blossoms in Changdeokgung.

There's a huwon (secret garden) situated just behind the palace which you shouldn't miss. Huwon tour needs to be guided because it's the place where late emperors went tiger hunting. So be careful *roar* and remember to check the timings to catch the tour in a language you could understand.

Ok I am half-kidding on the tiger part. There's of course no more tiger or whatever wild beasts in the bushes anymore, perhaps many decades ago there were. I guess they just don't want tourists to go wandering and get lost in the garden maze or drop into the ponds.

Royal library near the Huwon entrance

Artistic pavilion ceiling

Royalties and their subjects had picnics and poetry sessions here

This marked our last day stay in South Korea. It was a fulfilling 6-day trip that seemed to pass in the blink of an eye (I really wished I could stay longer if not for the limited annual leave). We had a great time immersing in the pink petals of spring blossom, Seoul historical sites, bustling streets and street food and the non-English speaking culture.

A few tips for those going Korea:

  • It would be good to learn how to read the Korean words because they are in phonetic forms and are quite easy to pick up.
  • The cabs are of different colours representing coverage of different regions and different rates.
  • The subway is a very convenient way to navigate Seoul with a T money card. If you are android user, download the app 'Subway Korea' with a yellow subway icon. It would show you the entire subway lines of Seoul (in English) and the shortest route for transiting to your desired station.
  • The money changers around Myeongdong may give a better rate than changing won in SG.
  • There's no need to take Nami tour shuttle to/ from ITX station, you can just take the regular bus at a cheaper price.

Please let me know if you have more to share. Anyeong!

A recap of my 6-day free & easy tour:

Day 1 Here we come Seoul!
Day 2 Palaces tour
Day 3 Ewha and Hongdae
Day 4 Gangchon rail bike and Nami Island
Day 5 DMZ and Gangnam shipping
Day 6 Gwangjang market, Changdeok gung

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