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Hey guys! Time for some palace-hopping on Happiness, etc.! Today’s travel diary covers the Gyeongbeokgung, the Changdokgung and the Secret Garden.

Before anything, I have a confession to make. Historical dramas are my least favorite of all Korean drama awesomeness. Please don’t hate me. I stereotyped them to having cliche heartbreaking plots. Like how the story would start with this good emperor, so good but ends up getting killed by either his evil son or a traitor in the palace – stuff like that. I passionately despise it. I know almost all Korean dramas have good endings, but I guess historical dramas are just too much for me. Lol! I’m so affected!

Despite all the hatred, I do have to break it that I love where they take place. I’m such a sucker for beautiful sceneries that I ‘d probably watch a whole historical drama but not really pay attention to the story line. Hehe! I started with this topic because I’m sure that the places below may look familiar. We can play a game of guess which drama this place appeared in. My sister who loves historical dramas geeked out upon seeing these.

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One of the most iconic landmarks in South Korea, the Gyeongbokgung is the main palace of the 5 grand palaces in the Joseon Dynasty.  It’s super easy to see why! But we’re not gonna talk about much of the history here. Let’s be real. I’m gonna save you from boredom for this one. Your tour guide will be 100x better at telling the story. Instead, let us take a moment to admire its beauty. You can find this in the drama, Moon Embracing the Sun! However, I will have to let you do the fangirl-ing alone since I didn’t watch it. Sorry for being useless. 🙁 (Kim Soo Hyun, though!) I can only advise you that this place is humungous. I missed some of the good parts so I suggest that you make sure that you see what’s really there to see (like the National Folk Museum and the National Palace Museum). If you’re planning to go on your own, the palace is easily accessible if you avail the hop on and hop off tour bus.

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Statue of the Great King Sejong, the fourth king of Joseon dynasty. You can find this in front of the Gyeongbokgung. Why does he have a statue? He’s only the creator of the Korean alphabet – well, that’s one of the many reasons, I’m sure).

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The main gate of Gyeongbokgung, Gwanghamun. If you saw the drama, Iris, then you have to remember! This place became a warzone!

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You know you’re in Gwanghamun when you see these tall guys in colorful costumes guarding it. They do ceremonies that might entertain you.

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Just WOW.

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Bugaksan Mountain on the background! It’s one of the major peaks in this city like Namsan!

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Heungnyemun, the gate after Gwanghamun.

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Korean tourists in their hanboks.

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Huge gong at the center of the palace courtyard.

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Geunjeongjeon. Imagine 1000 soldiers gathering up here.

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One of the good things about coming here while in winter and spring transition is less people.

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Geunjeongjeon up close.

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Gyeonghoeru Pavillion, the palace’s events place.

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I’m sure it’s prettier in spring, summer and fall.

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The princess is exploring the palace!

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This place is taking all my breath. Help me.

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The lounge-est area in the palace.

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Spongebob hair. 🙁

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I like how these seats are in theme.

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We took about 2 hours exploring the palace. If you’re thinking of visiting more than one palace in one day, I suggest that you purchase the integrated palace ticket at the Gyongbeokgung entrance. For 10,000won, you will already be admitted to four palaces: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace (& Secret Garden), Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace,  and Jongmyo Shrine.

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The hop on and off bus stop for Changdeokgung Palace is in Insadong. Both are in Jong-no. It’s a long walk to get to the palace, but you get to see parts of Insadong. I deeply regret that I didn’t get to explore this place. I heard that Samziegil is a must-see.

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Dainty porcelain figurines~

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Insadong is known for looking more traditional. They have a lot of art galleries, antique shops, and cafes, too.

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Random statues in the street.

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And finally, Changdeokgung. After about 15-20 minutes of walking! This palace is also considered as one of the grand palaces in the Joseon dynasty. The drama Jewel In The Palace took some shots here! I watched some of it but that was a long time ago. I can still remember how it was one of the most awaited Koreanovela on Filipino television.

The outside of Changdeokgung is not as grand as Gyeongbokgung but the inside is definitely a remarkable sight. You can find the entrance the Secret Garden and Changyonggung here, too.

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I don’t know why that guy is wearing a witch costume.

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Wuhoo! All to ourselves! *.*

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Feeling nasa k-drama.

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The throne hall of Changdeokgung, Injeongjeon, where they used to hold the coronation of the kings.

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Many of the visitors were foreign halabeoji and halmeonni. Kekeke~

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I have this thing with roofs? So picturesque!

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The Secret Garden is a really huge garden inside Changdeokgung for the leisure use of the royal family. The kings loved to seclude themselves here. It’s nothing but nature – pavillions, ponds, trees, and *insert all things pretty*. The experience was exceptional. Wish I came during autumn. Perfect autumn foliage everywhere. <3

The Secret Garden tour is free albeit scheduled. The tour is by batch and is strictly guided. Good thing, we made it to the last one! It was lean season that time so I’m not sure about the situation when it’s in peak. The reservation must be crazy.

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Let’s just imagine more colors.~

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There were many buildings in the garden with different purposes which are too many to mention. Hehe!

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Cute restroom windows. Lol!

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The gate of eternal youth. If I entered, will I become a baby? O.O

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Most of the buildings are for reading and studying. The one on the left is for the crown prince I think.

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Love of Lotus Pavillion since this pond is normally covered in lotus.

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South Korea-shaped pond.

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Hello from the other side~

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Make sure to wear sneakers, especially in the summer. It’s like a hike!

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Doesn’t this look like a bus stop? A beautiful one if I may add.

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Where the king hung out the most.

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There’s normally running water on these rocks. The king and his men would race bottles here and whoever loses will have to drink soju(?).

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Suddenly, a rice paddy. This helped the king understand the importance of rice and farming to his people.

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The noblemen’s house.

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#ihavethisthingwithdoors

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Lume-lens flare~ 

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Ahh~ The Secret Garden is a place not to be missed. If you’re a lover or nature, then you will more than enjoy this. It’s always nice to be in a harmonious far-away place every once in a while. It lets you relax and be away from any negativity. That’s my idea of a good vacation. 🙂

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The tour finished at 5pm so we weren’t able to go to one more palace unfortunately! On the bright side, Gyeongbok and Changdeok are supposedly the best ones. So that’s more than enough for me for now. The Secret Garden has to be my favorite. It’s just so alluring. *.*

Have a great weekend! <3