Day 3 – Thursday, October 13, 2022 - Gyeongbok Palace; Visit War Memorial of Korea
Good Morning or Annyeong haseyo is our new phrase for today. We woke up to a sunny morning and the temperature was 65 degrees with a light breeze.
With Seoul’s hotels and businesses just opening after their severe lock down from Covid, the restaurant and our hotel kitchen were still closed. Pam has arranged for us to have a light breakfast of juice, tea, and coffee along with cold cereals, breads, and fruit.
After breakfast we had a “Family Meeting” where we were given an overview of the trip as well as the opportunity to introduce ourselves in the group. There are 12 of us on this adventure, with most being seasoned OAT travelers and at least two newbies, a very cordial group.
We met our driver at 10:00 and Pam gave us a brief overview of the city of Seoul and the capital of The Republic of Korea, commonly referred to as South Korea. It is hard to believe that this city was decimated during World War 2 and the Korean Conflict. In the past 70 years Seoul has been rebuilt and is now a modern thriving metropolis.
With a population of 10 million people in the city and another 10 million in the suburbs, Seoul is situated on the Han River. The downtown area is extremely clean, we saw absolutely no trash and Seoul is known to be one of the safest cities in the world.
Our destination this morning was a 20-minute drive to Gyeongbok Palace, also known as the Northern Palace. Pam gave us a history of this 14th-century home of Korea’s longest ruling family, the Joseon Dynasty. We had an hour to explore the compound, which was exploding with school children today. Many of the groups were dressed in period costumes and these vibrant and colorful students made our visit to the palace so refreshing.
The palace was originally built in 1395, but because of fires and multiple wars, there had to be extensive restoration of the buildings. The grounds include multiple museums, ornamental gardens, and some of Seoul's most impressive architectural sights.
Around 12:15 pm, we walked to the Korean Chicken Ginseng Soup restaurant where we had a steaming bowl of chicken soup made with a small whole chicken stuffed with seasoned rice and veggies. This traditional meal is very tasty and noted to promote good health and vitality.
After lunch we walked through the Bukchon Hanok Village, famous for the 600-year-old homes made of logs and timbers constructed without nails or metal fasteners. The residents of this neighborhood have complained about the tourists invading their streets so Pam reminded us to walk in whispers so as not to bother the people living here.
Our next stop was the War Memorial, a somber reminder of the suffering of the Korean people. We focused our visit on the conflict of 1950 – 1953 when 2.5 million people lost their lives. Pam guided us through the two halls of that war and reminded us of the United States involvement helping the Korean people to maintain freedom and democracy.
It was about 4:00 when we returned to the hotel. Pam took several of us on a brief orientation walk that we missed yesterday. We were able to cash some US dollars at a fantastic rate and also find an ATM in a bank that would accept our debit card for Korean currency. The dollar is strong throughout the world now, a great thing for tourists.
We met our group at 5:45 for a short walk to a Korean BBQ restaurant for our Welcome Dinner. The able chefs cooked our meat on white hot charcoal grills in the center of each table. Salad, rice, and a spicey soup accompanied the meal.
It was 7:30 when we got back to our room to do a little laundry and then begin the journal. With so many photos of our learning and experiences, it was difficult to choose only five that were representative of our day. We hope that you can see the smiles on our faces and the joy in our hearts and we learn more about Korea and its people.
Accommodations: Pacific Hotel -- Meals included: B, L, & D
To receive $100 per person off your first reservation with OAT, mention the following information when reserving your Overseas Adventure Travel Trip: Mr. Victor Garcia Customer #673062
I love the Vic's photo with the students in Hanbok at the Palace :) It was a beautiful day.
Glad to see you traveling again I know you were looking forward to it. Your reports are always so interesting. As we have hung up our travel shoes we can enjoy your adventures vicariously!
Happy Birthday sister!!!
Sounds like the beginning of a good trip. Wish I was with you.
Hey Vic and Gennie, It looks like you had a great 1st day exploring South Korea! Loved the pics!
Glad you made it! Sounds like a good first stop. More pics of food please :)
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Wow, what a wonderful tour today. So glad to be back traveling with you.
Day 15 – Tuesday, October 25, 2022 – Return Flights to the USA
Our bags are unpacked, the laundry is done, and we are trying to get back on Colorado body clock time. Our trip home was long but basically uneventful, always a good thing!...