Weekend in Seoul!

November 09, 2011

After being in Korea for nearly 3 months, I finally made it to Seoul!

On Friday evening we took the KTX from Mokpo to Seoul which took about 3 and a half hours.

When we finally arrived, we made our way to Hongdae which is something of a university district. After dropping off our things, we wandered down near Hondik University where the streets were lined with cute/interesting shops, cafes, and bars.

There were so many... uniquely named places...

Saturday was a busy, busy day. It was supposed to rain but ended up being sunny and perfect.
We started out at Changdeokgung which is a palace complex. This was the secondary palace but was apparently favoured by much of the royal family. We joined a guided tour of the "Secret Garden" which covers something like 2/3 of the entire complex. The trees were the most amazing colours and the ground was covered with leaves.

Entering Changdeokgung

One of many beautiful scenes in the Secret Garden

The residence of a former king ha much more neutral tones because he is no longer in power

Contrast between traditional and modern Korea

After seeing the Secret Garden, we wandered around the many palace buildings.

The main palace. During meetings, officials would stand next to the stones according to rank.

Residence of the last living royal family member

For lunch we headed to a neigbourhood called Insadong which is an arts and culture centre with tons of shops and cafes. It was here that we found our first geocache of the weekend!

An outdoor market full of shops

Lunch in Insadong

Our afternoon mission was to shop. First was in the huuuge Namdaemun market where I had the chance to shop for traditional Korean things.

Later, in Myeong-dong, we found many Western stores such as Forever 21! I was in my happy place.

Back in Hongdae, it was time for more food!

Nachos and Margarita @ On the Border

We wandered out to do some late-night geocaching; first toward Sogang University and then over to Yonsei University.

On Sunday morning, we headed to Seodaemun Prison History Hall. This was one of many prisons that were built by Japanese imperialists during the occupation with the purpose of incarcerating anti-colonial activists. This prison operated from 1908-1987.

The upper levels of this building were used for administration while the basement was full of interrogation rooms, torture rooms, and solitary confinement chambers.

These walls are lines with photos of the inmates. I think the final count of those incarcerated was around 25, 000.

Solitary confinement chambers

Outside one of many prison halls

Inside the prison hall

Corpse exit tunnel located just outside the execution building

For lunch, we headed to Itaewon which is a district in Seoul for all things international. We found a Canadian place called "Rocky Mountain Tavern". The food wasn't really good but the atmosphere made up for it.

The sound of hockey on TV was enough to make me feel like I was at the Dodwell house

We shopped around Itaewon before heading back to the train station. Overall it was a really crazy, hectic, and amazing weekend. Can't wait to go back!

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