South Korea Day 8, Seoul – Gyeongbokgung, Tosokchon

From Singyeongju, I took the first class KTX to Seoul Station. The ride was about 40mins, and first class seats were really comfortable and leg room was abundant. It cost about 30-40% more than normal tickets. After arriving at Seoul Station, I followed the signs to Seoul Subway, and took the blue line to Chungmuro Station. There, take exit 8, walk straight till you see an old dingy looking building on your left. Turn left, and walk under the building, following the road all the way till you hit another main road, and viola, PJ Hotel is right across that road. I believed the dingy looking building was a small industrial park, as such the environment was dark, path was dirty and sometimes smelled weird. Nonetheless, it was quite safe in both daytime and at night.

First class seats!!
First class seats!!
Chungmuro Station, Exit 8.
Chungmuro Station, Exit 8. There are no escalator or lifts at this exit.
Walk under this dingy-looking building, and follow the road all the way straight.
This was a shot taken from PJ Hotel, across the road from the dingy-looking building. You will emerge from that dark road under the building.

PJ Hotel was really a nice looking, modern, maybe 4 stars hotel despite being surrounded by small industries, such as printing, furniture and lighting shops. At the main entrance, you had to climb up a flight of stairs to reach its lobby at level 2. A luggage belt was present though. Throughout my stay, I realised that this hotel is a hit among Japanese and Chinese tourists. Staffs were really warm and friendly, and spoke English, Japanese or Chinese. My room was situated on the 10th floor. Room was spacious, beautiful, and immaculately clean and tidy.  Toilet came with a bathtub. There was even a balcony, where I sat and drank take out coffee and ate desserts on many nights, and staring out at the night sky of Seoul. Per night costed SGD$120. Surrounding PJ Hotel were 3 different stations: Chungmuro (blue and orange line) in the south west; Euljiro 3(sam)-ga (green and orange line) in the north west; and Euljiro 4(sa)-ga (green and purple line) in the north east. The distance to all these 3 stations were about the same, taking about 5-10 min. What this meant was that PJ Hotel effectively was connected to 4 different subway lines, blue, orange, green and purple, and by choosing which station to go to, you really save the time changing lines. For most of my trips, I used either Chungmuro or Euljiro-3. PJ Hotel also provided shuttle buses that bring you to nearby tourist spots like Myeong-dong, Nandaemun and Dongdaemun. In fact it was within walking distance from Myeong-dong. Sometimes, after dinner in Myeong-dong, I just take a leisure stroll back to the hotel.

Luggage Belt
Luggage Belt
PJ Hotel Main Entrance
PJ Hotel Main Entrance
PJ Hotel Shuttle Bus
Hotel Alley
Hotel Alley
PJ Hotel Beds. Soft and Comfy.
PJ Hotel Toilet. Came with a bathtub, and a very intelligent toilet bowl.
The room even had a balcony!!
My room oversaw a school’s field. A fantastic unhindered view of surrounding Seoul.
View at night.

First stop for me was Gyeongbokgung. I took the subway to Gyeongbokgung Station, which was 3 subway stations away from Euljiro-3, and exited from exit 5. This palace was really huge. If you read the introduction about this palace, you will learn that it was built very early in 13th century, but was later destroyed by the Japanese Empire, and rebuilt in the 18th century. Then during the Japanese Occupation, they destroyed the palace again! (what was their problem?!) So apart from about 5-6 structures, all the other pieces of Gyeongbokgung were restoration pieces. While exploring the palace, do take time to walk all the way to the back. There was a sort of a back garden with the backdrop of a mountain in the distant.

Gyeongbokgung Station
Gyeongbokgung Station. Exit 5 to Gyeongbokgung.
Palace Gate
Palace Gate
Palace entrance
Palace entrance
Gyeongbokgung Map
Gyeongbokgung Map
Gyeongbokgung History
Gyeongbokgung History
Bridge crossing a stream. This was designed based on the Chinese Fengshui thinking that there must be water in front, and a mountain behind one's house to bring good luck.
Bridge crossing a stream. This was designed based on the Chinese Fengshui thinking that there must be water in front, and a mountain behind one’s house to bring good luck.
A guardian, over-watching the waters, to rid bad spirits from entering the palace.
A guardian, over-watching the waters, to rid bad spirits from entering the palace.
Geunjeongjeon, the throne hall.
Geunjeongjeon, the throne hall.
Main audience hall
Throne hall interior
Cute stone sculpture. HELLO!
Cute stone sculpture. HELLO!
Sajeongjeon, reception hall, where the king met his officials
Sajeongjeon, reception hall, where the king met his officials
Palace architecture
Palace architecture
More palaces
More palaces
Chimney of Amisan.
Chimney of Amisan.
Towards the back of the palace
Towards the back of the palace
National Folk Museum
National Folk Museum
The back gate towards the mountain, thereby completing the Fengshui formation of water in front, mountain at the back.
The back gate towards the mountain, thereby completing the Fengshui formation of water in front, mountain at the back.
Reminded me of how assassins used to jump around the rooftops.
Reminded me of how assassins used to jump around the rooftops.
Another structure...
Another structure…
Couple having their wedding photos taken in traditional costumes in the palace!!
Couple having their wedding photos taken in traditional costumes in the palace!!
Officials' offices
Officials’ offices
Pavilion in the middle of lake
Pavilion in the middle of lake
Gold on the ground
Gold on the ground
Long stretching walkways.
Long stretching walkways.
Gyeonghoeru, an open two-story pavilion for royal banquets and entertainment.
Gyeonghoeru, an open two-story pavilion for royal banquets and entertainment.
A lonesome building
A lonesome building

For dinner, I went to the famous Tosokchon to try their Ginseng Chicken Soup.  After Gyeongbokgung, I walked back to Gyeongbokgung Station, and took exit 2. Walk all the way straight until you need to cross a side road. A convenient store, GS25 should be on your left. Turn left and follow the side road. Tosokchon should be on your left. The nicest thing about this restaurant was the environment. It was a traditional Korean-styled residence, with houses built on four sides surrounding a courtyard in the middle. Either because of the rain, or it was too early (I reached there at 6pm), there were no queues and I was served immediately. Staffs spoke Chinese as well as English. The chicken was stuffed with one whole ginseng, rice, some other herbs and spices, and stewed. With each chicken soup ordered, a small cup of ginseng wine will be served. You could choose to drink it in one gulp, or wait for the soup to arrive and pour it in to add more flavor. Meat was tender and tasty, and the soup was delicious. Definitely, a good warm meal on a cold, rainy evening.

Tosokchon
Tosokchon Entrance
Tosokchon exterior.
Tosokchon exterior. See this, and you past the main entrance. Back-trek.
Walkway
Walkway
Traditional-styled houses, where you seat on the floor. Take off your shoes before entering.
Traditional-styled houses, where you seat on the floor. Take off your shoes before entering.
Cabbage kimchi.
Cabbage kimchi.
Black chicken Samyetang.
Black chicken Samyetang.
Normal chicken samyetang
Normal chicken samyetang
Chicken was stuffed with a whole ginseng, rice and some other spices and herbs.
Chicken was stuffed with a whole ginseng, rice and some other spices and herbs.

Nov 2012

South Korea Day 7, Gyeongju South Korea Day 9, Seoul
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