Off and out of the house to head to Changdeokgung, we had a tour booked so we made sure to get out of the house earlyish today. Before arriving at the palace we stopped off in a local looking small restaurant for brunch, ended up having beef in soup with some sticky rice, which was odd – we began noticing that everywhere in korea they seem to give a crap ton of side dishes with every meal, usually 2 kimchi and something else.
Arrived at the temple, sun shining brightly as always, we’ve been to so many temples now that I feel each additional one has diminishing returns, that said this one was quite impressive and big, even though it is supposedly the smallest of the 3 palaces in Seoul.
After walking the grounds for a while, we went on what was called the secret garden tour, presented in English for our benefit. We apparently had a full tour group of 50, which is probably the most tourists i’ve seen in one location during the holiday so far, we can probably attribute this to the fact the tour only runs once every few hours or so. Turns out the garden wasn’t actually a conventional garden at all, but a forest with a few smaller temples and old buildings interspersed throughout the wooded hills behind the main palace grounds. The tour was okay, though somewhat disappointing as we were expecting something with flowers – I guess after visiting Suwon village just yesterday, more old buildings wasn’t what we were looking for.
We’d try looking for bukchon village after leaving the palace, supposedly another small cluster of old buildings, but ol’ google maps said it was far away so we didn’t bother pursuing it and instead opted for Insadong which was also nearby but in the opposite direction.
Insadong is essentially a huge touristy street, filled with souvenir stores and other traditional korean ware you may want to take home. There were lots of interesting things on sale, one of the standouts being these super tiny potted plants. There were lots of little neat spots too – like a staircase filled with graffiti and yet another spot filled by couple charms.
We had a nice little shop around, tasted some of the snacks on offer, and watched a show featuring korean traditional sweet ‘Kkultarae’ – of which a full show you can find on youtube, but basically involves stretching a clump of honey into 16384 individual strands before using it to wrap some peanut filling, really cool to watch and only £2.50 for a box so probably worth it for the show alone. We also had Jipange Ice Cream after being intrigued by seeing the guy outside the street making the cones – a machine kind of farting out these long lines of cone and and a man curving them and throwing them onto conveyer belt. The result is this long thick cone shaped like a crowbar, and they fill the whole thing through with ice cream resulting in what I can only describe as a thick crunchy churro with an ice cream centre, it was really good.
Last up today was Namdaenum Market, a long market trawling down half a dozen roads and filled with disappointingly generic market fare, seemingly operated by and catering for old korean women – it was sort of interesting for the show of watching a bunch of market stall owners gathering round to share a hotpot in the middle of the road though.
In true Meng family style, we’d then head out for two dinners, the first was Samgyeopsal, a do it yourself BBQ pork meal, with fatty 3 layer pork eaten with kimchi and encased inside a lettuce wrap. The food itself was nice, but oh god it was pretty much the opposite of a relaxing meal, having to cook the pork and then the pork fat popping and spitting at us throughout the meal (burned my arm a few times), then the meat itself was a little too fatty to be able to eat it with a clear conscience (and chewy). We ate our fill then moved on to a different restaurant to fill ourselves the rest of the way.
Back home fairly early, giving us a chance to recuperate a little bit, I’ve also discovered the wonders of Korean TV, with channels showing LoL and SC2 tournaments (and other weird games i’ve never seen before, some ‘Kart Rider’ game was on this morning…), and then the music channels showing constant Kpop (Crayon pop was on last night <3 ).
I just actually finished explaining league of legends to my dad because he’s like ‘What the fuck is happening why is there a big snake fighting a flamethrower guy’.
Have some city life night shots