Seoul City Tour|Gyeongbokgung Palace, Namsan Tower, and more!

VICTORIA HERE with a little summation of the Seoul City Tour I went on that was provided by Hanyang International Summer School. This trip is apart of the few fieldtrips put on by HISS to encourage International students to explore and learn more about Seoul and Korean culture. The other trips they provide include a Nanta traditional Korean drum performance, the Boryeong Mud Festival, and other excursions which require additional payment.

Before we all actually headed off on the city tour, the day started off with all of the students meeting in an auditorium where we were divided into groups based on what university we came from and then assigned a bus. Afterwords, we were all directed to meet in front of Hanyang's Olympic stadium to wait for the tour buses. I highly recommend grabbing something to eat from Mini Stop, which is on the way to the stadium because there aren't many opportunities to eat during the nonstop tour (we did receive Subway sandwiches at one point though!). As we got on the buses we were given wristbands with colors that corresponded to the bus we must stay with and return to after each destination. On the tour bus we were greeted by a tour guide who spoke about Seoul's history throughout the entire ride to the first destination, which was the Blue House!

A drum shrine located near the Blue House.
Mountain behind the Blue House, which is the structure shown on the right.
We did not actually get to enter the grounds of the Blue House but viewed it from the outside as the tour was quite rushed since we had many places to get to throughout the day. The Blue House is Korea's equivalent of America's White House and is the official residence of their President. I must have been more amazed by the nature surrounding the building because I managed to get photos of everything in the area except a direct photo of the Blue House...

In front of Phoenix statue near the Blue House.
Also, me wearing black and boots no matter the temperature... 
After hanging around the Blue House and learning about the significance of its placement in relation to mountains and power for about 15 minutes, we hopped back on the bus headed for Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Inside the main gate of the Palace.
Gyeongbokgung is the largest of all five palaces in Korea and was used as the royal palace during the Joseon Dynasty. Though I did not visit them during this trip, the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum are both located here. The tour guide walked us through all of the main attractions of the Palace from the Throne Hall to the Royal Banquet Hall.

This was the point of the tour where I became super exhausted! The feeling of Korea during the Summer is much like being thrown in a boiling pot of water. It was so hot and humid! There was a lot walking during the tour, especially here at Gyeongbokgung, and I felt sticky and gross but I persisted because we still had a long day ahead of us.

This is me persisting.

the Throne Hall
Only the King was allowed to walk on the elevated path in the middle. 
the King's Throne
Look at that detail!
Royal Banquet Hall
View of Seoul from inside the Tower
We have arrived at the third destination of the tour and the one I was looking forward to the most! Namsan Tower! If you are a k-drama freak, you've probably seen this place a million times through your little computer screen. Need I bring up that scene in Boys of Flowers where Geum Jan Di and Gu Jun Pyo get stuck in the cable car overnight and yet we all still want to be them??? (this is also the episode where SS501 make a cameo and perform "Ur Man" the feels!!)

Locks of Love
Namsan Tower is the ultimate destination for a couple to solidify their relationship without yet putting a ring on it. The place is littered with couples who have come to lock their love over the breathtaking view of Seoul. If all you single ladies can build up the strength to block out the excessive couples in your peripheral vision, Namsan Tower is a great place to capture great shots of Seoul and get a breath of fresh air--while reenacting famous drama scenes with your bffs of course. And if you are traveling with your namja chingu *boyfriend*, go on a fun trip that's sure to be romantic on the verge of cringe-worthy at Namsan (don't forget to rock your couple t-shirts)!

Though I did enjoy Namsan very much, the journey there left me even more burnt out. Namsan is located on top of a mountain and unless you are willing to wait in the epic-ly long line for a cable car, you are walking up. There's nothing k-drama romanticized about huffing and puffing yourself up a mountainside. But trust me, it's worth it! (I'm taking the cable car next time.) Also, try to also go at nighttime. I did not get the chance to but I heard it's even more beautiful to see the Seoul city lights glowing from up there during the evening. 

So much love...

After Namsan Tower, we headed towards the City Hall area to briefly walk along the Cheonggyecheon Stream. Cheonggyecheon is also known to be a great date spot and looks spectacular during the night as parts of the stream light up and art instillations are usually set up along the lit up banks. There is a huge Lantern Festival held there every year that I would recommend checking out!

After resting by the stream for 20 minutes, we boarded the bus again headed for the last leg of the tour.

The last destination of the tour was the traditional Korean village, Namsangol Hanok Village. We walked through the men's and women's quarters and saw displays of the different facets of their lives. The men's rooms were situated at the front of the village where they were allowed to roam freely and the women's rooms were located in the back where they cooked and tended to children. It was definitely a beautiful place and I always remain fascinated by traditional Korean architecture. It is just so detailed!

The day definitely took a toll on me but it was so worth it! We got to witness different aspects of Korea from its extensive roots to its spectacular modernizations that continue to shape the country's history and future. If you do not visit these places on a tour during your trip, go explore and check them out yourself. Korea is a fascinating country that I encourage you all to take some time out to learn about!

Until next time,


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