Today we woke up very early ⏰and went to explore the city. It was a beautiful day in the sun ☀️although it is VERY chilly ❄️❄️here, I’ve never been anywhere this cold, and we thoroughly wrapped up in thermals, hats and gloves .
We headed for Changgyeonggung Palace 🏯 and had a excellent tour by a very sassy tour guide, and then a tour of the Secret Garden 🌳at the palace. The photo above shows the palace wall, with the secret garden ablaze with the red leaves of acer trees on the other side. 🍁
The direct translation is not quite correct – really it should be ‘private garden’ as this was the private garden 🌳of the Royal family when they were in residence. It is quite a large area, set into a hill, and the garden path weaves through the hilly landscape. There are many temples in the garden and a library or two, the King was very keen on his reading 📘, although no books anymore 📚. There are also lots of ponds, and even one in the shape of Korea, and they are all currently iced over ❄️, with lots of red and yellow autumnal leaves 🍂 🍁 frozen in, creating colourful. It was a beautiful walk in the sunshine, and I love the combination of the dark green pines 🌲and bright red acers 🍁.
Next we went to Bukchon which is a charming place, the hilly streets are lined with ‘hanok’ the traditional Korean houses 🏠 and there are many tiny boutiques, places to eat and coffee shops. We had some lunch 🍜(only one thing on the menu, ideal) and then had some radish tea 🍵 sitting on a cushion on the floor of a hanok house. It is such a peaceful area, with the sun out, and very few cars (and not a plane in the sky!) it was wonderful just to wander about through the maze of little streets. We are going to go back tomorrow.
We then wandered down to Cheongyecheon ‘stream’ 🌊 – which is more like a very shallow clear river running through the city, below ground level. It is rather nice to walk along, as although some of the main roads of the city cross over it, you can barely hear the traffic. And there were stepping stones 🚣!
It has been a super day, and most excitingly more people are arriving for the wedding 👩👦👧, it is really quite amazing meeting up with many friends in a city half way across the world from home.