In this latest “Anywhere But Here” episode, let’s travel back to 2018 when we strolled around the grounds of the Changdeokgung Palace and ooh’d and ahh’d at cherry blossoms & other lovely spring foliage.
We woke up early on a Saturday morning and set off for some palace-touring. As I mentioned previously, our hotel was in a great location and we were able to walk to several of the Five Grand Palaces of Seoul! Probably would have been a faster/easier walk if we weren’t following Henry’s lead, but….as Henry said, “WE GOT THERE, DIDN’T WE?!”
Wow, tough guy.
I wanted to start with Gyeongbokdung Palace first but Henry was all, “my way or the highway” or some other Dad-ism, so we went to Changdeokgung Palace first. I know, it’s hard to keep the names straight! But the one that starts with a G is like, the most popular one I guess.
In hindsight though, our crazy walks are something I look back on now and laugh about. I miss it! We saw a lot of crazy shit this way and it reaffirmed that we definitely were better suited sans itinerary. As much as I loved the European adventures I went on as a kid with my family, it was so much better not to be tied down to a group agenda and panicking everyday because you’re close to missing bus call. For this trip, we had a list of things we wanted to do and we played it by ear. Sometimes we didn’t know what we were doing until after we woke up that morning! It was slightly stressful for me at times because I’m an undercover control freak, but I quickly learned to just go with it and maybe that’s why we managed to make it through our Korea pilgrimage with minimal fighting.
Donhwamun Gate, the largest of all palace gates. Get on Donhwamun’s level, other gates.
According to Wiki, this Palace literally translates to “Prospering Virtue Palace.” It was the second palace to be established after Gyeongbokgung, which is the one I wanted to see first but that’s OK Henry, fuck up the chronological order!
The original palace was built between 1405-1412 but burnt down during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and again in 1623 but each time it was rebuilt, and the reconstruction remained true to its original form. It’s incredibly humbling and sobering to be walking around grounds filled with so much history and tragedy.
Chooch might have a future as a Walmart greeter, you guys.
We got there early enough that it wasn’t flooded with tourists yet. Look at the mountain peeking out back there! I believe that’s part of Mt. Bugaksan. One of the things I didn’t know about Korea until I started marinating in a KOREA 101 bath is that Korea is like, 70% mountains! And almost everywhere you go in Seoul, you can see them. It’s one of the things I loved so much about this city, that no matter how urban and cosmopolitan it feels in one direction, if you pivot another way, you’ve got a mountain looming over you, or a Palace’s ancient presence behind you. Seoul has everything. Seoul IS everything.
This is the throne hall, where all The Big Events took place back in the day, like coronations and poisonings probably.
This is the inside of Injeongjeon Hall. I bet lots of scary people have mingled under those chandeliers.
And now please enjoy some gratuitous spring flower shots:
The spring buds were like celebs, man. There were some cherry blossoms that you couldn’t get anywhere near because of the throng of older people with their tripods and huge lenses.
It was so deserted in this area that I was afraid we weren’t supposed to be there. Those trees though.
I was so glad that Chooch got to experience all this history! He was really into it.
This was before ancient Korean spirits possessed Chooch and me and gave us the ability to lacerate Henry’s feelings with our hunger-driven words.
Because, we would never normally be mean to Henry.
I had to go for my annual wellness test this morning at work, and when the lab tech was getting ready to take my blood pressure, he said, “Just think about things that make you happy.” And immediately, in my mind, I was walking the peaceful grounds of Changdeokgung again.