I have been to South Korea for more than 20 times already since 2009 but didn’t get the chance to explore the country as I always went there for business trips only. Last week was a different story though. I went to Seoul for a 4-day vacation and wasted no time wandering around in some popular tourist destinations. Luckily for me, one of my friends, Dash, was on paternity leave (Congrats again Dash and Ai). I had an instant tour guide. From sun up to sun down, we didn’t mind the almost zero degree temperature and continued taking snap shots of the city that we badly needed a Thai massage afterwards.
First stop was at the Seoul Tower, a very popular destination for couples (and singles too). There you can see thousands of padlocks with the names of lovers as well as their promises to each other. We arrived at sunset, sprinted towards the top in order not to miss it. Perhaps it was a wrong move as I was breathing heavily after that one-minute run. Since it was a Thursday, the place was not that crowded. We were able to positioned ourselves easily to spots we wanted and went on a shooting spree. Yes, both of us are photo-hobbyists. The visit to Seoul Tower can only be considered complete if you can see the tower lit up.
Next day we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace. South Korea has many palaces but this is said to be the grandest one. The place was a maze, lots of entrances and exits making us very impatient. It was a very interesting place though, it was like being in a Korean film and seeing lots of characters in real-life.
Gyeongbokgung, also known as Gyeongbokgung Palace or Gyeongbok Palace -- is a royal palace located in northern Seoul, South Korea. First constructed in 1395, later burned and abandoned for almost three centuries, and then reconstructed in 1867, it was the main and largest palace of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty.The name means "Palace" [Gung] "Greatly Blessed by Heaven" [Gyeongbok]. more here
Autumn is earlier in Korea than in Japan. One of my itinerary is too be in an island covered with red, yellow and orange leaves. Thus the perfect destination was Namiseom Island which is situated outside Seoul. This is also a popular destination to tourists and even locals since this is just an hour away from the metro. The island was in full autumn mode last week so we missed to experience the sceneries being advertised on TV and brochures. Nevertheless, we still got to enjoy the autumn breeze.
struggling leaves dangle
swaying to the wind whispers
Namiseom Island's popularity zoomed up after some scenes of the popular Korean soap "Winter Sonata" were shot here. The island even had an area for the actors involved on the said soap.
Namisum is a tiny half-moon shaped island located in Chuncheon, South Korea, formed as it was inundated by the rising water of the North Han River as the result of the construction of Cheongpyeong Dam (청평댐) in 1944. Its name originated from General Nami (남이장군), who died at the age of 28 after being falsely accused of treason during the reign of King Sejo, the seventh king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. Although his grave wasn't discovered, there were a pile of stones where his body was supposed to be buried. It was believed that if someone took even one stone from there, it would bring misfortune to their house. A tour company arranged the grave with soil and then developed Namisum into an amusement park. more here
Overall it was a crazy 3-day marathon around Seoul (4th day unfortunately was my flight back to Japan). I was able to experience Seoul without wearing a business suit. I know there's still a lot to see in this country, I hope to visit it again soon. Hopefully, not for a business trip. And a million thanks again to Dash - kamsamnida!
Keep shooting, keep blogging too!