Playing Seoul Tour Guide for a Day

CONTRIBUTED BY CHRISTINE BRUNS

“It’s a small world after all….” (you’re welcome, for that ear worm. Ha ha!)

I got to play “Seoul Tour Guide” for a day when a friend came to town for a business trip. My initial reaction (after the “Yay!”) was, “How on Earth can I show her all of the awesomeness that is Seoul in one day?!”. Well, here is how I attempted to do it.

Our first stop was Gwanghwamun Square and Gyeongbokgung Palace for some history and traditional architecture. I had her throw the peace sign, as that is a requirement for a true Korean photo op.

Tour Guide peace-001

And then we had to do the obligatory selfie – say “Kimchee!”

Tour Guide selfie-001

We timed it just right (this was pure dumb luck) and the palace guards were performing the changing of the guard ceremony.

Tour Guide guards-001

This was also my first time catching the whole ceremony, so here’s a quick video clip of the music portion:

Tour Guide ceremony-001

You are able to pose for pics with the palace guards, just like at Buckingham Palace, so we paused before heading inside.

Tour Guide kimchee-001

I took some different pictures of the various statues and adornments on this trip:

Tour Guide horse-001

ceiling of the entry gate

Tour Guide palace-001                         Tour Guide throne-001

the throne and royal screen with five mountains

Tour Guide heachi-001

We headed over to the National Palace Museum for a quick tour through Korea’s royal history and to grab a quick cup of coffee.

Tour Guide waterclock-001

We headed back to the subway, where I snapped this lovely guardian on the tunnel wall, and rode over to Insadong for some shopping and lunch at Gogung, a Korean restaurant.

Tour Guide wall-001                                  Tour Guide Insadong-001

We were fortunate that there was a free performance scheduled at the Seoul Global Cultural Center that afternoon, so we hopped back on the subway and headed to Myeongdong. The show was traditional samulnori, with five musicians on various percussion instruments.

Tour Guide samulnori-001

The instruments are the Kwaengwari (small, handheld gong), Jing (large gong), Buk (large round drum), and the Janggu (two-sided drum). The program moved through four different stages:

–Binari: a Korean song sung to introduce the Samul performance and bring blessings

–Andaemi Machum: a group performance on the janggu, to drive away evil spirits

–Samulnori: playing the sounds of nature and symbolizing Korean’s joyousness and harmony

–Samulpangoot: playing while dancing and giving movement to their headwear (Sangmo)

Tour Guide dance-001

I was able to catch a few decent videos of the Binari and the Samulpangoot – enjoy!

At this point, we had had a pretty full day, but she was game for more, so we walked over towards Namsan Tunnel #3 and took the free Ohreumi Elevator to the cable car station.

Tour Guide elevator-001

Still smiling!

Tour Guide smiling-001

This was another first for me that day – instead of the normal sweat inducing hike, we had a nice, easy climb to the top!

Tour Guide car-001

The cable car comes out by a cafe with a section of the locks of love, right behind the former signal station.

Tour Guide locks-001                          Tour Guide smoke-001

I think this is my favorite shot of N Seoul Tower!

Tour Guide tower-001

And the view was great!

Tour Guide view

We ended our day with a harrowing ride in a taxi (I was giving her the true Korean experience, after all!) down to Itaewon for some dinner before heading home on the subway.

My Fitbit hit 19,000+ steps that day – whew – a full day, indeed!

There are a TON of other places to add to the list of “Must See”if you have visitors in town and more time than we had – here are a just few suggestions:

Dongdaemun

The 63 Building

Cheonggyecheon Stream

Namdaemun Market

And because I’m just slightly evil, remember: “It’s a small word after all…”   🙂

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