18 September 2013

CutiCuti: South Korea Day 7 - Tteok Cafe & Changdeok Palace

Assalamualaikum. 안녕! 

Jongmyo Shrine

We walked out from Jongmyo Shrine after nearly an hour there. Made our move to Tteok Museum; which is situated at the same building row of Apple Backpackers; sister hostel of Banana Backpackers. 

We took the opportunity to quenched our thirst at Tteok Cafe. Since it was already approaching noon. & the energy we got from our early breakfast at the hostel; drained out in Jongmyo. 
Some cute cafe we passed by on our way to Tteok Museum.
Talk about going all out in decorating their shops. Korean & their creativity/cute stuffs...no words could describe it better than seeing it before ur own eyes. Gitu!
The museum is located on the second floor of the building; above the Tteok Cafe. It is consists of 2 floors dedicated to only tteok / rice cake. Entrance fee is 1,000 KRW. No photograph taking is allowed in the museum; too bad because the tteok presentation are super daebak. Far too beautiful to be eaten. 
Varieties of tteok are for sale at the cafe downstairs. They aren't just prettily displayed, they do taste yummy. Tteok is a Korean rice cakes made with glutinous rice flour by steaming. In Korea, tteok soup is customary eaten during the New Year while the sweet tteok at weddings & birthdays. 
Literally I was spoiled with choices. Too many cute designs, too many attractive tteok! I can't decide wisely. I was about to purchase one of each type & bring back home but the Ahjumma told me tteok can only last for two days; max. Unless I want to eat them all before they expired; I was advised to only buy what I really want. Problem was I want them all; cried my heart from within. 

Every different versions has their own taste. Some are elaborate with nuts & fruits. While some have red bean, mung bean & sesame seeds stuffed in. I specially love the Korean mugwort tteok. That is the second tteok from the left picture. Vegetables with flavors or herbs can be used to flavor the tteok. Honey & sugars are used as sweeteners. No artificial flavors involved in making them.
Apart from what I had at the cafe, I also bought tteoks to be eaten at the hostel later. I spent 15,000 KRW for the drink & tteoks. The takeaway tteoks included. That's roughly RM 45.00! *pejam mata buat ndak nampak* Well, we thought why not giving it a try since we're in Seoul & it surely is a slim chance to find any of these back home. Tteok sold at the subway underground or street food stalls won't be this expensive. 
Tteok for gift is wrapped in a box. The cheapest I saw was around 60,000 KRW. Price range according to size of box & amount of tteoks inside. I just love how the Korean wrapped their gift.

For Muslims who hesitated about the halal or permissibility status of tteok can refer here. Kak Zarina; a Malaysian 'guru' of anything Korean did a great job in 'investigating' about tteok & share the informations to us. 
We spent quite some quality time at the cafe. Enjoying our tea-time with tteok. And later we made our move to Changdeok Palace. The first palace we visited in Seoul. The visit in front of Gyeongbuk doens't count as we didn't get to enter the palace.
Changdeok Palace or Changdeokgung is situated just opposite Jongmyo Shrine. It is one of the Five Grandest Palaces in South Korea built during the great Joseon Dynasty. Along with Changgyeong Palace; it is referred to as the East Palace. 

The fact that buildings of Changdeokgung were built to blend with its topography made it the most favored among many Joseon princes. Many elements dating from the Three Kingdoms of Korea were retained by this palace; unlike the more contemporary Gyeongbuk Palace. 
Seems too common in Korean history, Changdeokgung was heavily destroyed during the Japanese occupation. And only 30% of the pre-Japanese structures are still in existent. This palace has undergone several reconstructions & repair; but despite that it remained faithful to its original design. It was the site of royal court & seat of government until Gyeongbukgung was rebuilt in 1868. 
Intricate design of rooftop. 
Those figures called Japsang; traditionally found on many rooftops in the palace are meant to protect the building(s) from evil spirits. The more creatures on each corner, the more important the building is. They are located on the sloping roof hip & arranged in line. 
Admission to this palace is 3,000 KRW. But because we already bought the ticket combination package, we proceeded directly to the entrance gate upon arriving. No need to queue at the ticket booth anymore.
Entering the area of Gwolnaekgaksa. An area within the palace where government buildings were located. 
Although most government buildings built outside of the palace, those closely involved with royal affairs were build within the palace. This area was destroyed & paved over the road during the Japanese occupation but has been rebuilt after the invasion.

Apart from the ones in Namsangol Village, here's another proof of the height of people back then. Just imagine how they would look at me if I were to be transported to their era. They might certainly appoint me an important rank in the government; in defence department I supposed. I shall look pretty spunky in their eyes.

Bright colours buildings fill the palace but some which were built after the invasion; remained dull. Paints were quite expensive at that time. 
Two tourists tripping super tourist. Words!

Daejojeon Hall; the Queen's official residence. It was used as a residence by the last empress of Joseon. This hall was once destroyed by fire in 1917 & was rebuilt using materials taken from Gyeongbokgung. 
Gate to the Queen's residence. 

Injeongjeon outer courtyard. 

Passed through the main palace gate; Donhwamun to get to the King's throne hall.

Standing before the Injeongjeon; the throne hall of Changdeokgung. Used for major state affairs including the coronation of a new king & receiving foreign envoys. Built in 1405, it was burnt down in 1592 during the Japanese invasion & was rebuilt in 1610. For the third time, it was rebuilt in 1804 after it was destroyed by fire. 
View of the main palace gate from the main hall. Literally the view the king had back then. 
Where the King sat on his throne; hence its name the Throne Hall. The blue blinds behind the throne can be seen at every place where the king's throne is. Even in Kdramas these days, this still apply. 
Chandeliers; some Western influence was seen after the second reconstruction. 
We had the chance to enter the throne hall; didn't expect we could step onto the hall as we didn't know there's session for that. A lady guide explained to us about the hall in brief. How it was destroyed by fire; how it was rebuilt. Also informations about the king's throne. 

Those two carved dragons recessed on the ceiling are called Haet'ae; mythical fire eating beast that was believed will guard the palace from fire. They are presence not only on the ceiling but also decorated the centre stairs & other portions of the building. But why did the palace still caught by fire then? 

Huijeongdang is originally the king's bed chamber. After Seonjeongjon was claimed too small to conduct routine state affairs, this therefore turned into the king's workplace. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1917. The present building however resembles nothing from the original due to massive Western influences at the time of reconstruction. 
Entrance to Secret Garden @ Huwon. U have to purchase a different ticket in order to enter here. But with the ticket combination package; Huwon is already included in the booklet. We just have to show the booklet to the guard at the entrance; whom will tear the ticket for Huwon. 

Visitor isn't allowed to wander freely in here. Guided tour is compulsory. Initially we wanted to join the tour but we have to wait for like two hours for the next tour to start. And the tour itself is two hours long! Since we have another places to go, we decided to pass on this garden *sob*. I have always wanted to witness the most-talked garden in Changdeokgung. Secret Garden would be super beautiful during the cherry blossom or autumn; I was told...therefore skipping the garden during the last visit was somehow of no regret for me. I will come back for sure...I just don't know when.
We stopped by at a cafe inside the palace; it was scorching hot. Touring only half the palace ground was enough to fagged us out. We didn't tour the whole palace as we planned to go to Gyeongbukgung later in the evening. Little did we know that plan has to be cancelled as we did not have enough time.

We went to Bukchon Hanok Village right after Changdeokgung. Spent sometime strolling there...and it was already late evening by the time we made our way out from the village. We could have proceed to enter Gyeongbokgung but we figured it would be a waste of time since the palace is closing soon. Having toured Changdeokgung taught us that an hour is NOT enough to see the must-see things in the Grandest Palace of all five palaces in Seoul. Let alone to enter the Folk Museum which is located within the palace ground.

There will always be next time. Considering I have inserted Gyeongbukgung in my upcoming itinerary *insha Allah* the cancelled visit is of nullity.



zila said...

tteok tu cantiknya...rasa mcm mochi ke?? nak makan pun syg..haha

BibiErr Karim said...

Aah lebih kurang mochi. Ke sama je cuma nama berbeza. Ala kuih koci kita pun ada. Sayang sangat2 nak makan Zila. Saya duk tenung tteok tu, pastu gigit sikit2.

Kalau tau awak gi Sabah, boleh jumpa kan.

SuRayA^i. said...

I see some familiar corners at changdeokgung! baru je pegi ctu ls wk. hehe~

Malicious Mind said...

cantiknya. banyak betultempat di korea you melawat ya. but seriously korea ni cantik


Waiting for ur entry! Kitorang gi time summer, memang lenjun peluh tawaf hal palace ni.


Tulah cantik habis. Misi sebenar, mau round South Korea every year. Balik kampung kah? Hahaha. Mau merasa autumn bah knun.