Thursday, October 30, 2014

Seoul, Korea: Gyeongbokgung Palace & Changing of the Guards

There are five grand palaces in Seoul built during the Joseon Dynasty, but we just chose to visit just one, which was Gyeongbokgung Palace. To be honest, I personally think they all kinda look the same anyway so why not just go to the biggest and regarded as the most beautiful, right? ;p

We took the train to Gyeongbokgung station and the first thing we saw when we exited the subway was the National Palace Museum of Korea. Too bad it was closed though, we would have loved to take a look inside (admission is free btw).

National Palace Museum of Korea

Right in front of the museum was the palace and we just had to walk a bit to finally reach the entrance.

We also made sure to arrive before 10am which was perfect since we were able to catch the Changing of the Guards ceremony, which happens outside the palace (I believe this takes place every hour until 3pm).

There were a lot of people, so make sure to position yourself in the front to be able to have a good view. But there's lots of space anyway, since the grounds are so huge. This is definitely a must-see since it's a great opportunity to experience a traditional ceremony which is reenacted exactly as in the olden times.

We went there on a Monday since it said online that the palace was closed on Tuesdays. There is an entrance fee of 3,000 won but it was apparently a holiday when we went (Autumn Harvest Festival) so entrance was FREE! But the downside was that there were no free guided tours that day. 

Heungnyemun or second inner gate. This was also the main entrance to the palace grounds.
Ready to do some serious walking... ;p

Gyeongbokgung was the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty. It was the first of the five palaces to be built and you can see the former offices of the state government, living quarters of past kings and queens, and historic artifacts inside.

The first building we saw was Geunjeongjeon which was the main hall of the palace. I believe this building was used for the king's affairs of state, including meetings and receptions with foreign guests.

this was the inside of the hall

After that, we just kinda wandered off wherever. I was just looking for nice spots (and there were a lot!) and making kulit hubby to take my pics haha!

Everything kinda looks the same for me though haha! But I loved taking pics of all the intricate details especially the rooftops. So pretty and colorful!

Saw a lot of people taking pics by this giant poster of Jewel in the Palace, which I guess was shot here.

 a map of the palace grounds

The whole palace grounds is really huge and sprawling, but I guess we didn't realize just how big it was until we reached this part. You couldn't even see any houses, just land and trees (and mountains in the background). And it was quite a long walk to get to the other compounds. I can imagine back in the olden days when you wanted to visit someone or even give an urgent message. You really need horses to get to one place to the next!

I definitely want to come back in spring or fall so see all the pretty flowers`and autumn colors :)
more day-off pics lol! ;p
fermented pastes and sauces in clay pots in one part of the palace
Hyangwonjeong, a two story hexagonal pavilion built on a small island in the middle of a lake
Gyeonghoeru, an open two story pavilion on a surrounding man-made pond, used for banquets and entertainment of foreign guests

We probably spent a little over 2 hours exploring the palace. We were already exhausted from all the walking (I guess because the weather was also a bit hot) and I think there were a lot we still didn't get to see. Hubby was the one who wanted to check out more places, but I was already happy with all our pictures and was already dying from hunger haha! ;p

We exited through the Gwanghwamun Gate which is the main gate of Gyeongbokgung. We left at about 12 noon so we were able to catch the hourly Changing of the Guards ceremony again, although it was now concentrated in this front area. 

Right across the Gwanghwamun Gate is Gwanghwamun Square, where you can see the statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi-Sun-Shin. There is another exit from the train (Gwanghwamun Station, Subway Line 5) which I believe lets you walk out right here in the square itself. So maybe if you like, you can choose to exit here instead of where we did, so you can take pics with the statues before entering the palace. 

In our case, I was already soooo hungry that we decided to just skip going here and head straight to Insadong for lunch.

I'll be posting about Insadong and Bukchon Hanok Village next so stay tuned! :)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Our new bed (with tufted headboard!)

The first major purchase hubby and I made after we got married was our plasma TV. Then, we bought our bed hehe. ;p We just wanted something simple and classic, so this is what we ended up buying in SM.

Back when this was the only piece of furniture we had, when we were still staying at my mom's place. Sarap, walang kalat!

It held up fine all these years, but as the kids got older, they learned to jump on the bed. And they loved jumping on it until I noticed a couple of months ago that there was already a huge crack on the bottom of the frame:

broken right in the middle!

Hubby tried to fix it, but as you can see, he didn't do a very good job hehe! He used electrical tape and picture frame hangers haha! It was one jump away from fully collapsing so we decided to just buy a new bed.

This time, I knew I wanted a bed with a tufted headboard. Aside from it looking so nice and elegant, I wouldn't have to worry about the kids hitting their heads on the frame anymore (which has happened so many times!).

We went to SM Our Home and found this bedframe (queen-sized) which was on sale from P29,950 down to P23,960. And there was an additional 10% off since we got it during the mallwide sale and we had an SM Advantage Card. Plus, it was payable in 6 months, interest-free! Yey SOLD! :)

You can even customize the color of the upholstery (they showed us swatches like black, brown, red, blue) but in the end, we decided to go with what we saw on display which was this grayish color. With the new taller height of the headboard, my pole wire decal is a little bit covered though. Still thinking if I should keep it or just hang something on the wall. What do you think? :)

Anyway, super love these studs that run along the sides too!

And check out the sturdy base! I think it has enough support for the kids to jump on all they want haha! ;p The only cons would be that there's no space to put anything underneath (I used to have some orocans under the old bed for extra storage) and it's now harder to get all the dirt and dust under the bed (hirap walisin!) But it looks so nice so parang tiis-ganda na lang diba! :)

I think in the end, I'm kinda happy the kids broke the old bed so we could get this new one. Super happy with it! And hope it lasts a lot longer than 5 years! :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Seoul, Korea: Shopping at Myeongdong

After visiting the N Seoul Tower, we then headed to Myeongdong for some retail therapy!

cute graffiti wall in the area

Myeongdong is located in central Seoul and is a really a shopping paradise featuring a mix of local and international brands.

Here you'll find all the Korean cosmetic brands side by side, and in practically every corner! Plus, everything was on sale, with lots of buy 1 take 1 deals. I have to admit, it was really overwhelming for me since I was so confused what was the best product, brand, shade to get. I think I must have stepped inside each make-up store at least 2-3 times, just scoping out and comparing stuff. But what's nice is that if I suddenly decided that I finally wanted something, I was sure to find that store again because they're really everywhere! ;p

Ended up buying a little something from these beauty shops. I got some lipsticks, nail polish, facial wash, concealer and of course BB cream! So much cheaper than in Manila, plus love the free samples they give too. :)

All the high-street brands are also here like Forever 21, Uniqlo, Mango, Zara, etc. I couldn't help myself and ended up doing most of my shopping at H&M where I got some good stuff on sale. :)

And of course, lots and lots of street food! It was so fun just trying out different things whenever we got hungry from all the walking and shopping.

Hubby and I found this giant meatball so yummy! It was our favorite among all the street food we tried on this trip.

There were so many restaurants to choose from, but we ended up eating here since it was full of people (so we figured it must be good). Turns out Yoogane is a really popular resto in the area. :p

We ordered their Chicken Galbi fried rice, which they cooked right in the middle of our table. It was just ok for me, not something I'd want to eat again hehe. But at least I can say I've already tried it. :)

Myeongdong was pretty crowded though, especially in the narrower streets where it was hard to even stop to look at stuff. I personally think it would be quite challenging to bring small children here with you, especially if they're in strollers.

But as a shopaholic, I certainly loved the vibe of this area. If given a choice next time, I would want to book a hotel near here so I can just walk around whenever I wanted. But I'm sure, ubos ang pera lol. Hope to be back here soon! :)


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