Moonlight Tour at Changdeokgung Palace

For several times in a year, Korean Palaces will open at night so visitor can enjoy the beauty of the palace under the starry night sky. Last year, I went to Changgyeonggung. And last week I had a chance to join Moonlight Tour in Changdeokgung. On my first 2 visits to Changdeokgung, I visited it on a daytime. So, I was curious when I heard about this Moonlight Tour.

For this year, Monlight Tour will be held from August to October.
Aug 27 (8-10pm)
Sep 25, 26 (7-9pm)
Oct 28 (7-9pm)
This tour only opens for foreigner and limited to 100 persons for each event.

I was there on the first event, August 27. It started at 8pm. The visitors are divided into 5 groups based on the guide language (English 2, Japanese 1, Chinese 2). I joined the first group! Every visitor was equipped with wireless headset so we can clearly listen to the guide. As the first group, we were also the first one to enter the palace. Our guide that night was the same guide I met on my previous visit. I was happy because I know she’s an awesome guide. Hehe.

Lantern

Lantern

Upon entering the gate, a traditional lantern was given to us. Because there was only limited number of the lantern, each 4 persons got 1 lantern. Night view of the palace gave different vibe from the day view. The quietness made me thinking more. What did the King do at this hour? Was there any royal guard standing in my place right now? Such thinking just came to my mind.

This is Injeongjeon, the royal main hall, view at night.

This is photos from around Nakseonjae, the study room and sarangchae (living quarters of the head of a household) of King Heonjong (24th king of Joseon, 1827-1849).

This time, I had a chance to visit Sangryangjeon. I’ve never visited this area before because it was closed. I’m not sure, but I didn’t see anyone enter this area during my previous visits. Well, I learn something new every time I visit Changdeokgung. This area is higher than other area, so I can see the view of its surrounding from above. Our guide ask us to have a moment of silence while looking at the moon and have our wish there.

After that, we enter the Secret Garden area. A performance of Gayageum in Yeonghwadang was already prepared for us. It was great! Just imagine this: in a quiet full moon night, a young woman wearing hanbok playing gayageum in an ancient pavilion with a lotus pond nearby…

After the performance, we moved to Yeongyeongdang Hall. Passing Bullomun gate which is believed to give you a long life. When entering the Yeongyeongdang area, we’re given snacks and drinks. There were grain tea and grape tea. I tried the grape tea and it’s refreshing.

We watched traditional music performances in this hall. With more performers and variety of instruments. It was such a great experience. Thank you KTO for giving me a chance to join this awesome tour!

If you’ll be in Seoul during the next Moonlight Tour, give it a try! You can book it through Interpark. The fee is 30000 KRW. And you’ll get amazing view of the palace at night, great guide, traditional performances, and have a taste on Korean traditional drink and snack! This will be a memory you can not forget. πŸ˜€

Sorry for bad quality picture, i only use my phone to take picture and it’s not good enough for night shot. You can check better pictures here. And book your ticket here (payment with credit card).

Changdeokgung & Secret Garden: Korean Music in Ancient Palace

Changdeokgung is one of 5 grand palaces in Seoul. It’s the only palace that listed as UNESCO World Heritage. And it’s also my favorite palace. I’ve been to this palace three times, but I just realized I haven’t posted anything about it here. ><

I went to this palace for the first time when KTO had an event called “Korean Music in Ancient Palace” last year. Through this event, I can learn more about Korean traditional music and saw the performance directly in the ancient palace. It was very amazing experience, I felt like a royal family member. Haha.

Changdeokgung was constructed in 1405 as secondary palace of Joseon Dinasty. Different from Gyeongbokgung where its building was arranged more symmetrically on single axis, Changdeokgung was built following the original topography. It placed the buildings in the bosom of the valleys along the foot of the mountain to represent the atypical architectural beauty of Korean palaces. Such nature-friendly construction is quite rare among the palaces in Northeast Asia. Hence, it’s considered as Korean style. Changdeokgung maintains its original form better than any other remaining palaces of the Joseon Dynasty and it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1997 for its excellent arrangement with nature.

Entrance of Secret Garden, Changdeokgung

Entrance of Secret Garden, Changdeokgung

Changdeokgung served as main palace for about 270 years, the longest time among other palaces of Joseon. It has a beautiful back garden, which is better known as the Secret Garden. It has beautiful pavilions, ponds, trees, and shaped stones inside. Why is it called as “Secret Garden”? Everytime I come here, I always hear someone ask this question. LOL. It was called Secret Garden because only King or higher royal officials are permitted to enter the garden. But heyy, now everyone can enter it! On Korean Music in Ancient Palace event, the main performance area is the Secret Garden. Professor Kim Heesun from Kookmin University acted as commentator and giving an explanation before each of performances.

The first performance was Pansori. It is a Korean genre of musical storytelling performed by a vocalist (μ†Œλ¦¬κΎΌ) and a gosu – a drummer playing a barrel drum called buk (뢁). That time, a passage from Chunhyangga was presented. It depicts the scene where Mongryong who left Chunhyang in his hometown and studied hard in Seoul writes the state examination held in Chundangdae inside Changdeokgung and wins the first place. The pansori was performed in Yeonghwadang Pavilion where Chundangdae located in front of it! There’s also a square lotus pond called Buyongji next to the pavilion. Here’s a short clip of the Pansori performance:

The second performance was Daegeum, a large bamboo flute with wide sound ranges.

This was performed in Seungjaejeong pavillion, which is located near Jeondokjong Pavilion. On the north site of Jeondokjong pavilion hangs a tablet with writings of King Jeongjo dating to 1798, late in his reign. It reads. “All streams of the world have moons reflected on them, but there is only one moon in the sky. The moon in the sky is me, the king, and the streams are you, my subjects. It is the principle of the universe that the streams follow the moon.” There’s also pond in these pavilion vicinity which is shaped in unusual gourd-shaped curvedness. This pond is called Bandoji Pond (Peninsula Pond) because at first glance it looks like Korean Peninsula turned upside down. By Korean Peninsula, it means the north is included.

The last performance was a dance performance called Jeongjae “Chunaengjeon”. It is known to have been created by Crown Prince Hyomyeong of the Joseon Dynasty, the son of King Sunjo, to congratulate the 40th birthday of his mother. It depicts a beautiful figure of a nightingtale singing on a branch of a tree on an early spring day. The performer was a middle-aged woman, but her elegant beauty fascinated me.

It is performed in Euiduhap area. And to reach this place, I need to pass a gate called Bullomun which literally means “never getting old gate”. It’s made from one big stone that carved into a gate. It’s believed to give blessing of eternal youth to anybody who passes through the gate. Interesting. Kkkk.

If you’re into history and architecture, you might find this book about Changdeokgung interesting. Try give it a read!

Well these areas mentioned here are only small part of the Secret Garden. I had a chance to visit more area, like Yeongyeongdang and Ongnyucheon, when I went to Changdeokgung through my university field trip. And I really like it. If you’re coming to Korea, I highly recommend you to visit Changdeokgung and its Secret Garden.

Here are more photos from the palace & secret garden.

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Changdeokgung Palace
99 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Phone +82 2-762-8261/9513
http://eng.cdg.go.kr/main/main.htm

– Opening Hours
Feb – May, Sep – Oct 09:00-18:00
Jun – Aug 09:00-18:30
Nov – Jan 09:00-17:30
* Closed on Mondays
* Tickets can be purchased prior to one hour before the palace closes

– Admission
– The Palace
Adults 3000 KRW / Group (10 persons or more) 2400 KRW
– The Secret Garden (Required to purchase a palace ticket)
Adults 5000 KRW / Children KRW 2500
* No group discounts available
* Only guided tours are available in the secret garden, so check the guided tours schedule
* There are only 100 tickets available per tour. 50 booked in advance by internet and the rest are sold on site the day of tour.
* Link to booking: http://eng.cdg.go.kr/reservation/reserv_01.htm

It’s better if you join free guided tours to get more information about the palace. There are Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese guide available. I joined the English guided tour, and the guide is very helpful. She is willing to answer any question and has a good sense of humor, too.

– Guided Tours
– The Palace tours
Korean 09:30, 11:30, 13:30, 15:30, 17:30
English 10:30, 14:30
Japanese 12:30
Chinese 10:00
– The Secret Garden Tours (~90 mins)
Korean 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 16:30
English 11:30, 13:30, 15:30 (Feb – Oct)
Japanese 10:30, 14:30
Chinese 12:30

– Transportation
– Subway
Jongno 3-ga Station (Line 1, 3, or 5, Exit 6)
Anguk Station (Line 3 Exit 3)
– Bus
Blue Bus: 109, 151, 162, 171, 172, 272
Green Bus: 7025

2/4 Seasons: First Fall & Winter

Hellooo, it’s been a long time!

I have a lot of things on my draft, but I can’t wait to post about this! Finally, after 24 years, I can see snow with my own eyes. Not on the movie, but real life. I can even touch it! Woohooo, that’s super amazing.

Indonesia is a tropical country, so we only have dry and rainy season. I had never seen snow before. I remember, last year I told my mom I wanted to go to 3 places in 2014: Bali, Kuala Lumpur, and Korea. Bali and Kuala Lumpur because I had bought the ticket when AirAsia had promo. You can read about my trip here and here. And Korea because I wanted to see the snow (and ehm, my bebeb xD). Hahaha. I was not really sure I could go to Korea that time. But hey, when there’s a will there’s a way! I’m in Korea now. And not only snow, I could also see the fall foliage! Awesome awesome!

When I first came here at the end of August, it was the beginning of fall. It was cold but not as cold as I expected. Just like Bandung at night around July or August. Not even as cold as Lembang. The tree leaves were still green.

But later, it was getting colder and colder. And the best part, the leaves were turning into different colors: mostly yellow, orange, and red. As this was my first fall, I was super excited to watch the color changes. Korean people loves hiking on this season because the fall view is the best. Seoraksan is one of the most beautiful and famous mountain. I had a plan to go there with my friends, but because we were busy we failed to go there before winter came. T.T Maybe next year? Aamiin.

Even though you can see the fall foliage everywhere, there are some places that famous for its fall foliage. One of them is Deoksugung Doldam-gil (Deoksugung Stone Wall Road), also known as Jeongdong-gil. It’s a road on the back of Deoksugung Palace. There’s a myth about this place: couples that walk through this road will eventually breakup. It’s because long time ago there’s domestic registration office (maybe something like KUA in Indonesia) where people register their marriage and divorce in this road. You can believe it, or not. πŸ˜› Here are some pictures I took when I went there.

Secret Garden of Changdeokgung is also best visited on fall season. But, I went there for two times before the peak of autumn and it’s too much to make it three times. Well, it’s pretty even before the peak of autumn. //comforting myself xD

secret garden

secret garden

Haneul Park and its silver eulalia grass is one place not to be missed. It’s usually closed at night, but I went there when there’s Eulalia Festival and the park opened at night. Colorful laser light shot through the eulalia grass. It’s pretty enough to pay my effort walking uphill to reach this place. :”) Not related to fall, but I could also saw the beautiful night city view, hangang river, and the bridges. I was thinking to go back to see the eulalia grass on the day, but because it’s too far… Yeah, you know, I didn’t go back. πŸ˜›

Another place that I think have a very beautiful fall foliage is Ewha University. I was curious about this place. I didn’t know what’s there, but because I had something to do around the university I decided to visit it. And, I was very impressed. Classical building and fall foliage is a really great combination. You should visit this place when you’re in Korea, especially on fall season.

And now, fall of this year has officially ended.

the end of fall

the end of fall

The first snow (in Korea, also in my life xD) was on December 1st. It was only flurries, so that time I just like “oh, this is what people called snow”. But, I sent the picture and videos to my family and friends anyway. LOL. On December 3rd, it was snowing heavily. I already slept. When I woke up and checked my kakao talk, my friend told me it was snowing heavily last night. I looked outside through my window. It’s all white because of the snow! It’s so pretty but I’m worried to go outside. I could imagine how cold it is. When I finally went outside, I took some snow because I wanted to know how does it feel to touch the snow. LOL.

It’s getting colder and colder, I need to buy more winter survival kit. This is not the essential one but it’s so cute that I can’t help buying it.

2014-12-04 18.41.43

cute korean winter socks

Wish me luck to survive in this super cold but pretty winter.;-)