For my third day in Seoul, I went to Jongno District to visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace. I arrived at the station with the help of a kind Korean lady who spoke only Korean but who went around asking for directions for me after I pointed out to her where I wanted to go on the map. On the trains, I noticed there were a lot of girls in traditional robes, and found out later that they were on their way to the palace to take pictures. It was noon when I arrived, and I had not yet had any breakfast, so I wandered around and entered a small alley where I came across a branch of the Baegje Samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup). Apparently it has been around for decades and is a popular franchise in Korea. I was fortunate that the menu was translated into other languages and had pictures, so I was able to point to the one I wanted. I thought it was going to be the only ginseng soup I would eat in Korea, so I opted for the more pricey, which was the wild ginseng chicken soup at 21000 won.
The soup came in stoneware boiling hot and had the usual daikon and cabbage kimchi side dishes. The kimchi was not very spicy and I was able to finish it quickly. I was also given a small cup of ginseng wine, a small dish of peeled garlic cloves, and chili paste. There was a whole spring chicken inside the bowl. The chicken itself was fall-off-the-bone tender. Inside the chicken, they stuffed an entire ginseng root, which I found a bit sweet, as if it had been previously soaked in honey. The broth itself was milky white and warming. The herbal taste itself was not that strong, and I think it would be a bit bland for people’s tastes but it was fine for little me~ I tried all different taste combinations: plain, garlic, chili paste, and kimchi. When I almost finished the soup, I gulped the ginseng wine. It was sharp and pungent, and knocked little me out a bit >.< It took me about half an hour to finish the meal, because it was so hot, but I felt rejuvenated afterward and ready to tackle the wind, so off to the palace I went~
The admission fee for the palace was 3000 won. It was not expensive, but I was still a bit tinged when I saw that students get in for free and wondered if they would have validated my foreign student ID if I had it on me… Anyway, I took the guided tour around the palace and then went around on my own to explore the rest before it closed at 4pm. I think my favourite must have been the pond where the emperor and empress had their “dates” 🙂
I went to Jogyesa temple after leaving the palace and stopped by Miss Lee Cafe at Insadong.
I actually was not paying attention to where I was going but simply walked up the stairs after I saw the signs and became piqued by the ads. Apparently, Miss Lee Cafe was a famous cafe known for its lunch box. I peeked at the contents and decided against spending the bucks to get one, but did try a rice-cake combo with ice cream.
The handcrafted dessert was alright, but nothing spectacular. I thought it was wise of me to save my money for other things 🙂
There was a street selling arts and crafts right next to the cafe. I did not really browse but went inside a gallery displaying ceramic arts instead 🙂
As recommended by the staff at the guesthouse, I hit Itaewon when it became dark, hoping to catch a glimpse of the famed nightlife; however, I think my idea of “nightlife” (night markets) was different from what the guy was thinking (clubs/dancing/mingling) and I found myself in a district full of night clubs, bars, and foreign (especially Turkish) restaurants. Fortunately, I found the LINE friends store and had a loooot of fun taking pictures with all the LINE friends ^o^
I finished the night with a seafood pancake at a BBQ restaurant I found while roaming the back alleys.
The seafood pancake was actually just squid, but the grease from frying still hit the spot after hours of walking~!