Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Seoul Much To Do: Chapter 1 - The Secret Garden

Seoul, South Korea is big. Really big. Half of the country's population big. So I'm breaking up my experiences in to several chapters. One big description would take hours of writing and dozens of pictures. And who ever reads this wouldn't appreciate it either. So here is the first of many.

The Secret Garden is only a secret if you don't read any guidebooks, look at any maps, or ask some one in Seoul what there is to do on a perfectly good afternoon. The Secret Garden can be found behind the Changdeokgung palace complex. Built in 1405, the garden was a place where the king could roam around in general freedom, ponder the day, read a book, and think about the best ways to kill Japanese soldiers. Apparently the king should have spent more time in the garden since the palace was virtually burned to the ground several times by Japanese invaders, rebuilt several times, and then burnt to the ground again by those Japanese arsonists. Only 30% of the palace remains today.

So the lady friend and I headed to the palace one afternoon during our time in Seoul. We roamed the palace grounds for a while until we "found" the Secret Garden. It turns out only tour groups and those who joined tour groups were granted entry on to the sacred grounds. After paying a small fee, the next group to be given this privilege was a Japanese tour group and we found our ticket in. (It was only appropriate to venture in to the garden the same way it was done in the 1600's, with a large group of Japanese people.) After pretending to be interested in what ever the tour guide was talking about we began making our own commentary and snapping pictures here and there. "I'm going to say that this pagoda was used for royal foot rubs." "Yes, we better take a picture." "That Asian baby is a pretty cute baby." "Yes, we better take a picture."

So here are some of the best pictures from the glorious Changdeokgung Palace and the Secret Garden. An ideal place to spend an afternoon roaming around and exploring.

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