Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 4 - Tidbits of Seoul, Drawing Show & BanPo Bridge

October 25 (Sunday)

This day was about Seoul and Korean Culture. It started with a “little” Kimchi-making session and Hanbok-wearing. It was fun dressing up for that short while. It was not fun just spreading the ready-made Kimchi sauce in a lettuce and calling it Kimchi. Nevertheless, the photographs for this tour ended up looking nice and authentic. The better ones, which were taken by a photographer, who was with us in the trip, dug a hole in our pockets and we bought them on the last day of the trip. The stereotype for tour packages started to come out on this day. Ironically, the best parts of my trip also happened on this day.


I didn’t understand a thing in the kimchi-making session. I wasn’t even sure if she was speaking in English or if the guide was translating. 


When it was our turn after the lecture, I think they just told us to spread the sauce into the lettuce and the neatest-looking one gets a prize. 


We just went trigger-happy with our aprons on and false kimchi-making. (I learned more about kimchi later in my trip.)



Hanbok-wearing was next and we were just told that these were traditional Korean clothes. A woman just strapped me in one of the oversized ones and we were off to a photoshoot area. 


Good thing I was with friends. We still had a great time taking pictures.



Our next stop was the National Folk Museum and the Cheongbuk Palace located just beside it. 




There were more than a hundred (almost freaky) dolls dressed in native costumes representing different countries on display at the National Folk Museum. We tried to look for the Philippines. 



Compared to Chinese imperial palaces, the Cheongbuk Palace was full of empty spaces and appeared simple and peaceful. I suggest you also take a look at my trip to the Deoksugung Palace and check out the Doldam-gil.




I loved these spots by the lake.



This was a very ingenious heating system located below the halls. It can also be seen in other structures around Korea. I actually forgot how it works...


There was a procession of royal guards in one part of the palace and, boy, did they look brutal in their outfits. 


We tried to mimic the old patriarchal palace life (too bad there were no beautiful hanbok cardboards for women). 


On the way to the exit, we saw a reenactment of the imperial examinations held in old Korea. 



I realized that the old writing language adopted by Korea was actually traditional Chinese. It was only until later that somebody invented the simplified Korean language for the masses (details on the latter part of my trip).


We only passed by the Presidential Blue House. I only saw beautiful blue roofs in a distance. This is Grandma and Grandpa by the way.


Lunch was going to be the highlight of our Korean food experience – the Tony Roma's Set Menu.

tony roma's chicken and ribs

I don’t know why but they chose an international franchise and a foreign food in Seoul. We all had internationally accepted chicken, coleslaw and ribs. I guess this could probably answer the why part.


I was thankful that it was located in an artsy place and the food was actually better than any of our meals so far.



We were dropped off at Myeongdong for shopping time after going to the Ginseng Center and Duty Free Shop (my Duty Free story later in the trip). My first Myeongdong experience was a dizzying sight of people and noisy crowded streets. What a good idea to go to Myeongdong on a Sunday! Needless to say, I did not like Myeongdong at all, even more so when I ended up buying nothing at a time when I really wanted to buy something and anything. The other ladies in the tour group had loads of The Face Shop items with them when the call time was up. They said it was way cheaper here than in the Philippines since the brand originated in Korea. I had fun sitting down near an old post office (which was a common tour meeting place) and just taking pictures of myself.



The dinner that followed was the least of my favorites – Ginseng Chicken Soup (or Samgyetang).


Fresh from the Ginseng Center (where they make you drink and buy stuff in the tour), I had already learned why Ginseng is called 人蔘 in Chinese (because it resembled humans with arms and legs). The more it resembled a human, the more expensive it was. I don’t get why it’s good for you because I don’t feel well every time I take it like the ginseng drink I tried earlier. Then there was a whole chicken in my soup (and full meal of the day), which did not look good too.


My only hope were the strands of noodles they put in there, which I fished out, and the camera.


This day was not turning out right and there was still one thing left to do in the itinerary – watch a Drawing Show. I was like, “a WHAT now?!” It turned out to be one of the best experiences I had in the tour and it was one of a kind.


I realized that I loved the arts, music and humor rolled into one performance, creatively made and done by young minds.


I learned that there was such a thing as sand art in this short performance. People from all countries can also understand the show because they don’t talk! It’s all about actions, drawings and masterpieces. The Hyehwa District was a discovery in itself too. I said I would definitely revisit this area and watch more entertaining and artistic shows in Seoul.

The other best experience came right after. We went to the BanPo Bridge.


The sight of the musical bridge captivated me and the colorful fountains reinforced the idea of beauty that I wanted to see. It was an experience of the senses – hearing music while staring at a beautiful and colorful sight in the stillness of a cold night. It almost seemed romantic.


I was in deep thoughts and hated leaving the place. I was content to sit amongst the other appreciative crowd in the wooden platforms near the riverbank made just for this spectacular performance.


I swore I would bring Jeff here next time just to see the lights and hear the music. It was hard to get here via subway though. People would literally stop when the show began and walk again only when a song had finished. Be Happy and Moonriver were played at around 9:20 p.m. =)

Read more about Seoul in Korea (you can find Busan in the labels):
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 1 - On The Way to Seoul, Incheon & Songdo City
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 2 - Nami Island & Mt. Seorak Near Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 3 - Mt. Seorak & Everland Near Seoul, Dongdaemun Market in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 4 - Seoul City Tour - Kimchi-making, Hanbok-wearing, National Folk Museum, Cheongbuk Palace, Myeongdong, Drawing Show at Hyehwa, Banpo Bridge
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 5 - Lotte World (tour ends here), Seoul Tower (start of our extra day), Teddy Bear Museum, Myeongdong in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 6 - Hyehwa, Gangnam, Insadong in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 7 - Sinchon, Korean Universities in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 8 - Namsangol Hanok Village, Namsan Stairs, Nanta in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 9 Part 1 - Deoksugung Palace, Doldam-Gil, Tteokbokki Street in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 9 Part 2 - Cheonggyecheon Stream, King Sejong Story, Samgyeupsal, Coffee Prince Cafe
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 10 Part 1 - Making Kimchi in a Korean Home, Korean Hospitality at its Best, Korean Grapes & Persimmon, Kimchi All-You-Can, The Peppero Story at the Supermarket, Ramen Eaten 3-Ways, Pojongmacha
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 10 Part 2 - My Best Foodie Experience in Seoul!
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 11 - Bossam Day, Incheon International Airport Activities