Last time I was here, another teacher at ENI and I hiked to the top of Gwanaksan from Anyang. From that side, parts of it were steep, but most were not too bad (until we went down a different, and steeper, path!). From this face, though, the trail is quite steep. It reminded me of Hallasan in Jeju-do, where the trail was almost all stairs. Here is Hallasan:
And these are the stairs on Gwanaksan, going down on my way back. Most of it was stone stairs like these:
And part was wooden stairs like these:
but almost all of it was stairs of some kind! Koreans hikers are in good shape, believe me. I hiked for about 40 minutes, but then something was making me sneeze and making my nose run, so I turned around before it got worse and headed back down. Regardless of that, it was a nice hike and a lot of exercise.
On Friday I left work early and went into Seoul. First I went to the Kyobo bookstore to look for books for learning Korean. I wanted to look for English translations of Korean literature as well, but the frequent fate of foreigners in the English section of Kyobo befell me -- a Korean came up and wanted to practice his English with me. I don't mind that when I have time to spare, but this day I was planning to go to Changdeokgung, a palace which has English language tours, and I needed to get there before the last tour of the day started. So I didn't have enough time to find the books I wanted, and had to hurry off to the subway toward Changdeokgung.
Fortunately, I arrived with ten minutes to spare before the 3:30 tour started, so I bought a ticket and sat down for a bit. It was sunny when I left Gwacheon, but now it had clouded over, and was getting cooler, with a chilly wind. Unfortunately, I had not brought a warmer jacket than the blazer I wore to work, so I started to get kind of chilly. I was hoping the tour would warm me up, as it involved walking 2.7 kilometers altogether, but it moved too slowly to keep me warm, so I was rather cold the whole time. One other difficulty was that I had forgotten to change the battery on my camera, and now it was a bit low, so I had to be sparing with taking pictures. Those of you who have seen the full extent of my Korean pictures know how much I love the Korean ornamentation and decorative brickwork, so you know how disappointed I was to have to limit my picture taking. Still, I did get many lovely pictures of Changdeokgung and its "secret garden".
Here are a sample:
This is the main palace gate, taken from the side. Check out the little forked prongs standing up from the figures on top. I haven't seen those on any other palace.
This is the throne room:
Changdeokgung was the last palace in use in Korea, lived in by the Joseon monarchs into the 20th century. As such, it was modernized to include a driveway for the king's motorcars.
This one is my favorite building at the palace.
I have nothing special to say about this building, but I love this picture:
As you can see from the bare trees in the background, spring had not yet sprung, but the garden behind the palace was still lovely. This is a pond, symbolizing the earth, and the circular island symbolizes heaven.
There are a few more pictures of Changdeokgung at my Flickr page if you want to see them.
Things I love about Korea: heated floors
Please send: Western sheets