Discovering Insadong

Trip Start Sep 28, 2012
Trip End Oct 03, 2012

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Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Saturday, September 29, 2012

After staying out past 4 am we were moving slowly in the morning. We decided to meet up at Insadong for some shopping and to see the Gyeong Bok Gung Palace. It took a while for Nina and I to navigate the subway and find the rest of the group, but eventually we were all together.  We walked as a massive pack from the subway station and I realized just how big our group was. I met a few more members of our pack who wasn't with us last night and it felt good to meet new friends. 
We turned a corner and I was thrilled. Insadong is a street that reminds me of State Street in Madison. It is a long street that doesn't have traffic (except for the occasional delivery scooter) that is crowded with stalls and stands, and little shops and cafes tucked into the walls. We didn't stay long because most people were interested in getting to the palace for the Chuseok festivities, but it was long enough for me to know that this place was great
We walked a few more blocks to get from Insadong to the Gyeong Bok Gung Palace and it was pretty awesome.  There were a number of people dressed up in Hanbok, which is traditional Korean clothes, as well as uniformed guards that marched in formation through the square. We wound our way through the massive palatial compound, leaving time to return to go on the tour.
We joined the tour group, which was led by a woman in pink Hanbok, carrying a matching parasol, and speaking with the aid of a microphone. She took us through the compound, explaining the intimate details of the former royal families, the history of the buildings, and how they are made. She explained the politics and history behind many of the buildings and pointed out things that most people might not notice. We didn't go to most of the buildings, but the information that we got to hear about the buildings we visited made the tour well worth it. I have to say that it was pretty interesting to hear about all of the details of this beautiful place. 
After the tour we split off to wander about the palace for a while before moving on. The weather was beautiful and it was lovely to just roam through the gardens between the tall, vibrantly painted buildings.
After a while we rounded up the troops and realized that more than half of our pack was missing. We checked our phones and realized that most of the others had left to go to Itaewon across the city. Well, that wasn't in the plans. The small group that was left, myself, Braden andCourtney, and Adam and Cheryl, decided to go on with our original plans. We wandered back to Insadong and proceeded to poke into shops and finger the wares that were for sale. I bought a few trinkets for friends and family and was pleased with my purchases. As the sun went down a man set up a steel drum and gently beat out a haunting tune that floated on the sweet summer breeze. 
When our shopping was finished we hopped on the subway, making our way to Itaewon to meet up with the others. We decided that we were all pretty hungry so we found somewhere to eat. Amigos sounded appropriate so we filed in and sat ourselves down to eat. After a meal of enchiladas, guacamole, and more chips than I want to admit to, I was feeling pretty sluggish. Some of the others mentioned the possibility of going out again, but it was getting pretty late and I was still exhausted from the night before. I caught the subway back to my hotel and it wasn't long before I was fast asleep.
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Carlo on

The pictures of the palace are fantastic! Insadong sounds like a fantastic destination all by itself. Definitely worth exploring in the future.

Awesome factoid: "Gyeong Bok Gung Palace" tranlates to "0 Gyeongin clothing" in Google Translate. :lol:

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