So this weekend I made my first trip up to Seoul from Daejeon to visit Stephanie! We had an excellent time. We ate at an Indian-Nepalese restaurant, an African (Ghanaian!!) restaurant, AND a Mexican Restaurant! We went to a beautiful palace AND a beautiful temple, and we even heard some amazing chanting. I bought shoes, shirts, and kitchy trinkets that I l-l-love! We even went to a book store!
I arrived around two on Saturday, and Stephanie and I went to Gyeongbokgung, or 경복궁, which was founded in 1395 by the Joseon dynasty. Since then it has been destroyed twice by the Japanese, once in the 1592 invasion, and again in the more well known invasion precluding WWI. One of the important figures in Korean occupation was Empress Myeongseong, who fought the Japanese until she was assassinated in 1895. I’m excited to find out more about her, but so far I don’t really know much. All of these buildings were beautifully restored in the mid 1990s and early 2000s, and they’re still working on other parts of the enormous complex. It is intriguing and breathtaking that this place is so old but so young, and also such an important symbol. There were many tourists there, but they were from everywhere–and more than 50% were Korean tourists. I heard some Japanese, and actually spoke it a little bit with an older woman. And by speaking I mean, I repeated what she said because I understood it, and she was dumbfounded and asked me if I spoke Japanese, and then I said “a little” and went on my way. But you know. Whatever you can get. Actually that day I spoke four different languages… because I spoke to the Japanese Lady, spoke Korean to folks, and English with Stephanie, and tiny Twi with the owners of the Ghanaian restaurant. Granted… I only used a few words in all but English, but, yeah I’d say that’s pretty cool. I’ll give myself permission to be proud of myself for that. 😛
Anyway, the grandeur and impressiveness of this palace are just beyond beautiful. Everything is enormous, complicated, intricate, and well thought out. There are two impressive mountains standing behind the palace grounds, and they are distinctly Asian mountains. The rock formations are just not anything you would see in the US, and the way they stand is different from American mountains and African mountains. It might be easy to assume that rock is rock everywhere place to place, but no.
There are pictures from the weekend posted on facebook. I won’t regale you with the entire story now because that post would just be too long, but check out my gallivanting, and hopefully you’ll have a long enough attention span when I attempt to write about it!