Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Very Nice Surprise

Posted in Foreign Service Life, Friends & Other Travelers, Korea at 6:26 pm by graceandpoise

This week I had an unexpected visit from one of my favorite people. KG called me on Monday and let me know he had bought tickets and would be in Seoul to visit me on Tuesday. It was really great to see him, and we had a fun time (though I guess I should speak only for myself). Still didn’t get out of Seoul, but we wandered into at least a few areas I hadn’t been before. One of the things we did was to pay a visit to the famous Changdeok Palace and its “Secret Garden” with some of my colleagues, and I managed to take some of the prettiest photos I’ve yet taken in Seoul.

One of the palace buildings, elaborately painted

One of the main palace buildings. All palaces and old city gates, etc. in Korea have the same elaborate paint job, and I’ve now learned that it’s based on Buddhist imagery with the lotus flower and something about clouds and water and earth and whatnot.

Pavilions in the Secret Garden

One of the most peaceful spots in all of Seoul (can it really be called part of Seoul – isn’t it a different place entirely?). This is where they used to take the infamous civil service examinations back in the day. The people administering the test would sit in this pavilion, and if you looked out the other side you would see a wide expanse of gravel, which is where the examinees were. The royals would also come here to sit and write poetry.

Changdeokgung roofs

This is what ordinary people might have seen. A jumble of roofs and a very old tree.

Coworkers at Changdeokgung

With coworkers in one of the palace courtyards. Of note: the bridge behind us (the thing that has a railing) is the oldest bridge in Seoul.

K and Me, Secret Garden

Thanks for coming, K. Wish you could’ve stayed longer. Guess you’ll just have to come back again sometime, eh?

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