Monday, April 18, 2011

Gyeongbok Palace and the National Folk Museum

April 18th, 2011

The important thing was that we went to 경복궁 Gyeongbokgung. Because we had to take Karjam's computer to the service center I somehow convinced myself we could go to the palace at 1 instead of 12. That was silly, because we rushed a lot. At least it meant we spent less time outside in the on-off drizzling rain.

At 1:00 we took photos/video of the changing of the guards, which fortunately they decided to do despite the weather. I didn’t get anything earth-shattering as it was too wet to change my lens and I had the wrong one on the camera. Oh well. Next we cruised through most of Gyeongbok Palace, with a significant stop for me to take photos of Karjam that I hope will be good enough for the next CD. Yes, we're really hoping to record another CD soon, so keep your eyes peeled for it! He looked really handsome but he gets so self-conscious when I train the camera on him, it's so frustrating. Why can't someone as handsome as him be confident and flirtatious with the lens?  We went to the National Folk Museum which mom enjoyed but I know I didn't give her enough time there, which is stupid, because it's my favorite museum.

We had to leave after only 75 minutes because I had made us a reservation for the 4:00 opening of 경희루 Gyeongheenu. That is the giant open-walled building located in the pond at the palace. Since the beginning of April sometime for the first time in years they are opening it to guests, if you make reservations (the system ONLY works in Korean and you have to have a Korean gov't issued ID number so since I don't have one I had to call and make them work around the system). They have 3 times per day that you can go in, and each time they limit the number of guests. I was pretty confident that even if we were 20 minutes late it'd be okay, but it's good we were on time. It was only our group and another group of three that had reservations and as soon as we entered they locked the gate! The tour guide told us we had only 30 minutes and we had to follow her and listen to her for 20. She spoke in fast Korean on the geomantic positioning of the building, the philosophy behind the color choices on the roof, the mechanics of cooling the building on hot Korean summers, the activities that took place there and many other similar topics. Of course I couldn’t translate at her speed, esp. not into easy English for Karjam, not without losing track of what she was saying. Then she complained that I'd only come to take photos and wasn't listening! Uhhh… I can listen and take photos. So I explained that I certainly couldn’t translate into both English and Chinese in the tiny breaks between her sentences and that she was using advanced vocabulary that even if I understand it in Korean is hard for me to formulate into an English sentence while continuing to listen… and it turned out she could speak Chinese so she talked to Karjam during the free 10 minutes at the end when we were supposed to take photos. Unfortunately there was wire covering the upper story windows to keep birds from roosting and pooping everywhere. It was so awesome to be there, though. Wire or not I think I got some interesting shots. It was so cool, it felt very exclusive to be there with only 6 other people and the view across to the Blue House, across the palace, down on the pond, out towards 광화문 Gwanghwamun, etc. was awesome. Incidentally Gwanghwamun's sign board which infamously cracked right after the renovation was complete, is being repaired.
This is Gyeongheenu

Looking out from inside Gyeongheenu

The sad factor with the wire over the windows is that photos like this have obvious wire patterns...

Inside roof!

Mom and I took the bus and I ate Thai food with her at Buddha's Belly, then took the bus to class at KOUS, which Karjam went to pick up his computer (new fan, new DVD player something or other, less than 4 hours, about 100 USD at the HP service center—freaking LOVE Korea).

The final 진옥섭 Jin Okseop class was pretty good, the last thirty minutes anyway, but it ended earlier. Oh, I was given a CD for having perfect attendance. The CD is awesome, it's a collection of really old recordings curated by 배연형 Bae Yeonhyeong. It's amazing (listening as I type). Truly amazing to hear these voices off scratchy recordings from the 1920s and even before. I didn't take my computer to class as I would have had to carry it around all day, instead I just scribbled in my notebook. I got some fairly good quotes from him, but it's nearly impossible for me to hand-write and translate all but proper nouns and listen. That's why I really need to be typing my notes. Even with the extra key strokes to hit the toggle between Korean and English, I can still keep up with most of what he's saying. 


  1. Gah, I want to go to 경북궁, reminds me of my elementary school field trip

  2. Yep, it was pretty fun! I really should go more often than I do, and the weather now means all the trees are in bloom. Yay!