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  • Day3

    Day 2: Gyeongbokgung

    November 9, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ 🌙 10 °C

    Alice's mom took the day to lunch and chat with her friends from the bank. As 20-somethings they all worked in the same downtown Seoul bank and have been friends ever since. Alice and I took off on the metro to visit the largest of the Joseon palaces in Seoul, Gyeongbokgung.

    The Joseon Dynasty ruled from 1392 to 1897. It was the longest Confucian dynasty and the last Korean dynasty. Gyeongbokgung is the largest of the five grand palaces of Seoul and was built in 1395.

    Gyeongbokgung consists of a large palace comprised of many buildings spread over a wide area and sits directly next to the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea. The palace was full of hanbok clad tourists. Interestingly, the face of tourists in Korea has changed. These were not locals, and most of them were not Korean. The change in tourist reflects the growing affluence that is spreading across Asia and the diversity in culture and religions represented. You could tell the Koreans apart: they weren't wearing traditional, Korean dress.

    Beyond the main gate we heard the megaphoned voice of a woman growing more and more hoarse as the hours passed. It was a protest, but we couldn't quite figure out what the protest was against. And then we were told...it was against Trump. Trump had declared that the US was helping South Korea by occupying a military base in Seoul. The South Koreans needed to pay much more now for the pleasure of housing our troops. I think I agree with the hoarse lady. We saw some marching, but stayed pretty clear of the crowds of people. Apparently, Saturdays are for shopping and protesting in the city center.

    We made it a day by visiting both museums and every single one of the shops around the palace grounds. I have taught Alice the joy of travel souvenirs. Packing tiny trinkets in my suitcase and making it home with all of them is my gift. We are all superheroes in our own way.

    As we were trying to figure out the best way home around protests and crowded subways, an American looked up at me and said, "Are you going to the Lantern Festival?" Lantern Festival? Alice quickly texted locals who responded, "Lantern Festival? Isn't that in the summer?" Well, there IS a Lantern Festival...in November...thank you random American for letting us know. It will take us a few days to wind up there though.

    Next up: Bad noodles, Do this museum LAST, and dinner with the cousins.
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