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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

South Korea: Touring Seoul‏

November 10th, 2010 · No Comments

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Now that I have seen downtown Seoul, I know what real traffic congestion is like. And this was on Saturday afternoon, when presumably I wasn’t witnessing rush hour conditions. The congestion was both automotive and pedestrian, often in the same place and time. Never again will I complain about congestion in Boulder!

Traffic Along the Han River

Traffic Along the Han River

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While automotive congestion is never pretty, I enjoyed the crowds of people. The afternoon tour today took me to three busy places where I was correspondingly busy taking pictures of the people and the surroundings.

I went with a tour led by a young Korean woman who spoke passable English. She took six of us westerners — including a couple from Denver — to a royal palace and two major markets.

In all three places the crowds were overwhelmingly Korean. The places where I went today may be tourist attractions, but they are mainly attractions for the Korean people.

The tour took us first to Changdeok Palace, one of the “Five Grand Palaces” built by the kings of the Joseon dynasty who ruled Korea from 1392 until 1910, when Japan annexed Korea. This was the world’s longest ruling Confucian dynasty. King Taejong began building Changdeok Palace in 1405, and today it is the best preserved of all of Seoul’s palaces. The large palace grounds were packed with people today, but not with vehicles.

To see the traffic congestion for which Seoul is famous all we had to do was to drive in our small tour bus to the next stop, the Insadong cultural art market of Seoul. Essentially a pedestrian mall, crowded to the extent that the merchants of Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall could only dream of, the shops and stalls of this market feature traditional and modern Korean artwork, such as paintings, sculptures, pottery, and calligraphy.

While automotive congestion is never pretty, I enjoyed the crowds of people. The afternoon tour today took me to three busy places where I was correspondingly busy taking pictures of the people and the surroundings.

I went with a tour led by a young Korean woman who spoke passable English. She took six of us westerners — including a couple from Denver — to a royal palace and two major markets.

In all three places the crowds were overwhelmingly Korean. The places where I went today may be tourist attractions, but they are mainly attractions for the Korean people.

The tour took us first to Changdeok Palace, one of the “Five Grand Palaces” built by the kings of the Joseon dynasty who ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910, when Japan annexed Korea. This is the longest ruling Confucian dynasty. King Taejong began building Changdeok Palace in 1405, and today it is the best preserved of all of Seoul’s palaces. The large palace grounds were packed with people today, but not with vehicles.

Part of Changdoek Palace

Part of Changdoek Palace

Click on the picture above to enlarge
Another Palace Building

Another Palace Building

Click on the picture above to enlarge

To see the traffic congestion for which Seoul is famous all we had to do was to drive in our small tour bus to the next stop, the Insadong cultural art market of Seoul. Essentially a pedestrian mall, crowded to the extent that the merchants of Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall could only dream of, the shops and stalls of this market feature traditional and modern Korean artwork, such as paintings, sculptures, pottery, and calligraphy.

Togetherness at the Insadong Market

Togetherness at the Insadong Market

Click on the picture above to enlarge
Insadong Market

Insadong Market

Click on the picture above to enlarge

The most crowded market of all, however, was our third and final stop, the Namdaemun market. This colorful traditional market covers many blocks full of people as well as vehicles trying their best to get through the crowds. It is the oldest continuously running market in Seoul, dating back almost 600 years to 1414.

Namdaemun Market

Namdaemun Market

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Rather Crowded

Rather Crowded

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With all the shopping opportunities at hand, I did not fail to participate. I bought two souvenirs of Seoul, including one for myself.

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