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Day 1: Myeongdong and HongdaeWhat we like most about Seoul is that each neighbourhood has its own unique, fascinating style that can't be found in any of the other neighbourhoods. The only thing all the neighbourhoods have in common are the beauty product shops. They are as common as convenience stores - there's one at every corner.Seoul is very cold in winter, but this trip wasn't as cold as we expected. Most days, the temperature was between zero and 5°C, and we only had a couple of days that were between - 10°C and zero.
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Don’t tell people you visit Korea w/o visiting its palaces. There are admission fees but you can just walk in without paying because there’s simply too much people for the ushers to manage. Just stick behind a tour group and listen to the guide to know more about the palace.
Bosingak is a large bell pavilion on Jongno in Seoul, South Korea. The program of bell ringing ceremony takes place at noon daily (except Tuesdays) and gives locals and international visitors the experience of ringing the bell 12 times. The program is run regularly and foreigners can also participate in the special program without the need to register. Foreign visitors can come before 11:40 a.m. and apply on-site at Bosingak Belfry, where participants will be able to experience a bit of Korean culture through the ceremony. The bell was named Bosingak Bell in 1895 during the 32nd year of King Gojong. The belfry was originally called Jongnu (bell pavilion). A special program called ‘Showing Love for Cultural Assets’ is held on the second and fourth Saturday of the every month. The program is available only to student volunteers. It involves cleaning the area around Bosingak Belfry and participating in a history lesson regarding Bosingak Bell and the bell-ringing program. Foreign visitors may participate in the program on Tuesdays but you may need to pre-register. If you want to see the new year's eve bell ringing ceremony then visit in December, bell ringing ceremony take place on December 31, 2014 – January 1, 2015 (23:30 – 00:30), It is recommended to take public transportation as there will be road closures during the event. the bell-ringing ceremony ushers in the New Year by ringing the bell 33 times at the stroke of midnight.
Sungnyemun Gate (Namdaemun Gate)
Any reference to Seoul would remain incomplete without the mention of its diversified cultural heritage and treasures. As you'd probably know, most original Korean artifacts were either destroyed or burned by the Japanese and the Chinese. Few that are left survive to tell the tale of Korea's long-lost and stark history. Sungnyemun or "the Gate of Exalted Ceremonies," which was built by the King Taejo during the Chosun dynasty, stood tall as the front gate of the capital. The locals still refer to it as the symbol of Seoul. Imagine how distressing it must've been for them to see the gate burn in front of their eyes.
This place was huge! I was just glad that I was in my sports shoes! From afar, it does look like a chinese temple. The signs on the boards are written in chinese characters because hangul actually derived from chinese characters. We wanted to explore the whole palace but it was really too big! I wonder if any of the King’s subjects got lost in the palace. Apparently, this palace has lasted hundreds of years and was once destroyed. To preserve the history and tradition, it was rebuild and now its a tourist attraction. We were scheduled to tour the ‘Secret Garden’ at 2 pm. This garden was sacred and only the king and selected people were allowed to enter it. Even visitors are not allowed to randomly walk around in the Secret Garden by themselves. We were informed that the Secret Garden tour would take up about 1.5 hours and 3 km walk! Since we were already there, I thought we might as well go all the way. I so loved the calmness of the Secret Garden. It was as if the Secret Garden was created to allow the king to rest and enjoy some private time.