Seoul – Day 2 – Palace Quarter & Bukchon Hanok Village

RO: Auzi la ei coreenii acestia, si-asa deja enervanti cu obsesia lor pentru frumusete si piele neteda, fara urme sau imperfectiuni, de ti-e greu sa nimeresti vreodata varsta adevarata a unui om (cand toti par sa aiba pana-n cinsprezece ani, nici nu-i de mirare), cica de fapt si de drept suntem cu totii mai batrani cu un an decat am zice noi, europenii. Pai ce, anul din burta mamei nu-i tot viata si nu se trece la contor? Ba bine ca da, asa ca in Coreea, orice nou nascut are un an de viata 🙂 Usor de zis si acceptat intr-o natiune unde lifting-ul facial (sau orice alt tip de operatie estetica) e la fel de normal ca o sedinta de zumba, insa nu si pentru niste bieti est-europeni care de vreo cinci ani de zile implinesc mereu, mereu 25 de ani 🙂 Cat despre alte “de-ale coreenilor” care ne-au atras atentia, ei bine, pot lasa falsa impresie ca nu ar fi politicosi. Da, da, nu raspunde nimeni la “multumesc” si cand ti-e lumea mai draga te trezesti c-un cot in spate, c-un impins sau un impuns, un bombanit sau vreo privire ciudatica. Insa asa sunt ei si nici urma de nepolitete. In aceeasi masura daca ai nevoie de ajutor, sunt primii care sa-l ofere, chiar daca de multe ori abia reusesc sa se faca intelesi intr-o engleza stalcita. Regula de baza, nu supara niciodata un sud corean, pentru ca da, stim cu totii cat sunt de buni la taekwondo 😀

EN: Well just look at the Korean people, already annoyingly obsessed with beauty and smooth skin, without any kind of spot or imperfection, so that you can never ever distinguish the true age of a person (there’s no wonder that this happens, when all of them seem to have fifteen years), but they actually say that we are all one year older than we, the Europeans and the rest of the world, think. Well, that almost one year in our mother’s womb doesn’t count as life as well? Well yes it does, so in South Korea, each newborn has one year of life 🙂 Easy to say and to accept this in a nation where the facial lifting (or any other kind of plastic surgery) is as normal as a zumba dance session, but not for some poor Est-Europeans that continue to turn 25 each year, every year for the last five years 🙂 As for other “Korean style” facts that caught our eyes, oh well, they can seem rude sometimes. Yup, yup, nobody replies when you thank them, and when you least expect you get encroached, jostled or punched, muttering of giving a black look. But that’ show they are and there’s no trace of rudeness there. At the same time, if you need some help, they are the first to offer it, even though sometimes they can barely make themselves understood in a poor English. Base rule is to never grow angry on a south Korean, because yes, we all know how good they are at taekwondo 😀
South Korean People
RO: Si daca tot dezbatem obiceiuri coreene, n-avem cum sa nu spunem doua vorbe despre obsesia pentru ceaiul verde. N-am gasit noi pe toate drumurile salon de ceai ca-n Japonia, China sau Taiwan, insa obsesia e acolo, exista in fiecare casa coreeana 🙂 Si cum ne-a ramas gandul la un matcha latte delicios care ne-a umplut diminetile de buna dispozitie in Japonia, am cautat tot internetul un loc unde sa putem incerca ceva bunataturi verzi. Si l-am gasit! Ceainaria Osulloc din Myeng Dong e renumita in tot internetul pentru cheesecake-ul delicios si shake-ul decadent de ceai verde din insula Jeju. Coreenii sunt o natiune mare bautoare de ceai verde, insa rareori se aude pe piata mondiala de ceaiul coreean. Si asta pentru ca cererea populatiei depaseste de multe ori capacitatea de productie. Ceaiul verde se face predominant in zona de sud a Coreei (in Jeju, Hadong si Boseong), si-abia daca le ajunge coreenilor, la cat e de bun 🙂 Comparabil cu Sri Lanka, China, Japonia ori India – de altfel adevarate imperii ale ceaiului! Si cum sa nu fie ceaiul din Jeju delicios, cand solul insulei vulcanice asigura toti nutrientii necesari unui ceai de calitate 🙂

EN: And now that we’ve started this debate about the South Korean habits, we have to say a few words about the obsession for green tea. It is true that we did not find tea ceremonies at every corner of the street as in Japan, China or Taiwan, but the obsession is there, it truly exist in every Korean house 🙂 And as we actually kept our minds on the delicious matcha latte that filled our mornings with joy in Japan, we’ve searched all the internet to find the perfect place to try some green goodies. And we’ve found it! Osulloc tea house from Myeng Dong is renowned for its delicious cheesecake and the indulging milk shake made of green tea from Jeju island. Korean people are big fans of green tea, but we rarely hear about the Korean tea on the global market. And that’s because the demand of the population exceeds the supply. Green tea is made in the southern part of Korea (in Jeju, Hadong and Boseong) and it’s barely enough for the Koreans, that’s how good it is 🙂 Pretty much the same as the one from Sri Lanka, China, Japan or India – which are indeed tea empires! And of course Jeju tea is simply delicious as the soil of this volcanic island brings all the necessary nutrients for a quality tea 🙂
Green Tea Osulloc Tea House Seoul South Korea
RO: Bun, energizati de la atata supradoza de ceai verde o luam spre Seoul Plaza, piata centrala unde se afla primaria (cea veche si mai ales cea noua, in forma de val de sticla) si unde au loc tot felul de festivaluri pe parcursul anului. Pana si noi am dat de unul in plina desfasurare, Festivalul Hot, dedicat intru totul… ardeiului iute, bineinteles 🙂 Pai nu e de mirare, pentru o natiune unde ardeiul iute si picanteriile excesive sunt cel putin la fel de importante (si nelipsite) ca sarea si piperul, iar un fel de mancare nu e suficient de iute daca nu simti usturaturi acute in varful limbii si daca nu-ti curge nasul in siroaie dupa fiecare lingura inghitita 🙂 Aaa, sa nu uitam, sacii aceia din poze, aruncati la voia intamplarii, nu sunt saci de gunoi, ci saci intregi de ardei iuti. Cam asa se face shopping de picanterii in Coreea, cu sacul! 🙂

EN: Ok, energized by all that overdose of green tea, we head it to Seoul Plaza, the central market where the city hall is (the old one but especially the new one, in the shape of a glassy wave) and where several festivals are held throughout the year. We also bumped into one, Hot Festival, entirely dedicated to… hot peppers, of course 🙂 Well there’s no wonder they have such a festival, as this is a nation where hot pepper and excessive spicy foods are at least as important (and always present) as salt and pepper, and a dish is never spicy enough if you can’t feel intense burning on the tip of the tongue and if your nose is not running in streams after every single bite 🙂 Aaaah and let’s not forget, those sacks from the pictures, thrown adrift, are not garbage sacks but sacks full of hot peppers. That’s how Korean buy the spicy stuff, by sack! 🙂
New City Hall_Seoul Plaza_South Korea_1
Seoul Plaza_South Korea_1
Seoul Plaza_South Korea_2
Seoul Plaza_Hot Festival_South Korea_2
Seoul Plaza_Hot Festival_South Korea_1
RO: Si-acum in sfarsit ajungem la palatele faimoase din Seul! O fi avut dinastia Joseon n palate construite de-a lungul domniei (din 1392 si taman pana la 1910!) insa in prezent cinci dintre ele sunt deschise publicului in Seul, iar cel mai grozav dintre toate pare sa fie Gyeongbokgung, Palatul Binecuvantat de Rai in traducere, o minunatie aflata in inima Seulului, cu muntele Baegaksan mereu de garda in spate si poarta principala Gwanghwamun in fata, dand catre strada cu ambasade. Din pacate insa palatul a avut o istorie tare tumultoasa si aproape tot ce se vede in momentul de fata in curtea palatului Gyeongbokgung este reconstruit, pentru ca “multumita” vecinilor japonezi care au distrus complet palatul (de doua ori!), nu a mai ramas mai nimic din palatul original. A, si apropo, cica daca inchiriezi hanbok, costumul traditional coreean, si vizitezi palatele gatit in straie nationale, toate intrarile la cele cinci palate sunt gratuite 🙂

EN: And we finally arrive to the famous palaces in Seoul! Joseon dynasty might have had n palaces built throughout their regency (from 1392 and until 1910!) but in the present, only five of them are open to the public in Seoul, and the coolest of them all seems to be Gyeongbokgung, the Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven in translation, a gorgeous palace in the heart of Seoul, having mount Baegaksan always on guard there in the background and the main Gwanghwamun gate in the front, facing the street with all the embassies. Unfortunately, the palace has quite a hectic history and almost everything that can be found at this moment in the palace’s courtyard is rebuilt, because “thanks” to the Japanese neighbors that have destroyed the palace completely (twice!) there’s nothing left from the original palace. Aaaah and by the way, we’ve heard that if you rent a hanbok, the  traditional Korean costume, and visit the palaces dresses in it, all five entrances to the palaces are for free 🙂
Gyeongbokgung Palace_Seoul_South Korea_3
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RO: In aceeasi zona se afla si restul palatelor (de aceea tot spuneam ca indicata ar fi o cazare in zona Myeong-dong sau Seoul Station, si nu Gangnam, care este la o ora de mers cu metroul de cartierul palatelor). Palatul Changdeokgung si Changgyeonggung sunt chiar unul langa altul, iar celelalte, palatul Gyeonghuigung si Deoksugung in apropiere. Si tot in zona aceasta se afla si Cheonggyecheon Stream, un loc foarte dragut, amenajat modern, unde au loc tot felul de evenimente mondene – noi spre exemplu am prins un fashion show 🙂

EN: The rest of the palaces are in the same area (that’s why we were saying that it’s worth booking a hotel in Myeong-dong or Seoul Station areas and not Gangnam, which is one hour away by metro from the palace district). Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces are next to each other, and the other two, Gyeonghuigung and Deoksugung close by. And in the same area there is Cheonggyecheon Stream as well, a really nice place, quite fashionable, where there are organized lots of social events – for instance, when we’ve been there we’ve seen a fashion show 🙂
Cheonggyecheon Stream_Seoul_South Korea_1
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Cheonggyecheon Stream_Seoul_South Korea_2
Cheonggyecheon Stream_Seoul_South Korea_3
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Cheonggyecheon Stream_Seoul_South Korea_5
RO: Si la doar o aruncatura de bat de palatul Gyeongbokgung se afla celebrul cartier Bukchon, cu casele traditionale coreene, asa numitele hanok-uri. Si ce e cu adevarat genial aici este faptul ca Bukchon este inca un cartier locuit si totul este cat se poate de autentic. Nu mai spunem ca printre acoperisurile de tigla (atat de tipice!) se vad cladirile inalte si moderne din cartierele din apropiere. E un contrast tare placut si inca o dovada ca seulitilor le place mixul acesta de traditional si modern, pe care il gasim la orice pas in capitala.

EN: And just within a stone’s throw away from Gyeongbokgung palace, we’ve found the famous neighborhood Bukchon, with traditional Korean houses, the so called hanoks. And what is really ingenious about this place is the fact that Bukchon is still an inhabited neighborhood and everything is as authentic as possible. Not the mention that between the tile rooftops (so typical!) one can see the tall buildings from the neighborhoods around. It’s a pleasant contrast and one more proof that Seoulistas love this mix of traditional and modern that we find everywhere in the capital.
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RO: Si cum nu-i zi completa fara un bibimbap, un kilogram de kimchi si niste bulgogi fript pe gratar (ca doar e renumit poporul coreean pentru fripturi de porc, mai ceva ca romanii :p), mai dam o fuga prin Myeong-dong pentru o imbuibare traditionala. Si-apoi o sesiune de cumparaturi impulsive in piata Naumdaemun, renumita pentru suveniruri ieftine si produse cosmetice din abundenta. Adevarul e ca e o nebunie totala cu tot ce inseamna creme, masti de fata si ingrijirea pielii in general. Si spre deosebire de popoarele vestice, care alearga dupa o piele bronzata si un look exotic, coreenii sunt innebuniti dupa pielea complet alba (soarele-i doar pentru cei care muncesc campul). Atat de multe optiuni de creme si masti, ca-i aproape imposibil sa alegi ceva! Insa coreenilor le place inovatia cand vine vorba de produse cosmetice, sunt renumiti pentru asa zisul “K-beauty” (la fel ca toata isteria cu K-pop), iar preturile sunt decente (traiasca Olive Young!). Fereasca Sfantul sa vezi vreun coreean cu cearcane, cosuri, puncte negre, iritatii ori sebum pe nas si obraji! Iar daca esti nefericitul posesor al unor riduri de expresie in coltul gurii, nu esti parte din peisaj pana nu vii cu programarea la un medic estetician in dinti. De altfel, Seul e Mecca-ul operatiilor estetice, aici se fac mai multe modelari de corp (in special faciale) decat oriunde altundeva in lume. Unele statistici spun ca una din cinci persoane in Korea au apelat la chirurgie plastica, iar perfectiunea pare sa fie principala grija a coreenilor. In loc de reclame la burgeri si Coca Cola pe strazi, afisele promoveaza liposuctii si rinoplastii, tinerii primesc operatii estetice drept cadou de la parinti dupa absolvire, in loc de “Koreans Got Talent” lumea devoreaza reality show-uri de transformari fizice iar in final toata nebunia cu frumusetea este un adevarat ritual, parte din cultura coreeana. Si haina, dar mai ales fata il face pe om in Coreea de Sud 🙂

EN: And there’s no complete day without a bibimbap, a kilo of kimchi and some bulgogi on the grill (we all know that the Korean people are famous for pork steaks, even more than the Romanians :D), so we go through Myeong-dong once again, for a traditional feast. And then some impulsive shopping in Naumdaemun market, renowned for cheap souvenirs and lots and lots of cosmetics. Truth is that it is a total madness with anything related to creams, face masks and skin care in general. And unlike the western people, that are so tempted to get a tanned skin and an exotic look, Koreans are crazy about the completely white skin (sun is only for the ones that work on the field). But there are so many creams and masks options that there is almost impossible to choose something! But Koreans love innovation when it comes to cosmetics, they are renowned for the so called “K-beauty” (as well as the entire madness with K-pop) and the prices are decent (long love Olive Young!). And God forbid to see a Korean person with dark circles around the eyes, pimples, dark spots, soreness or sebum on the nose or cheeks! And if you’re the happiest owner of some expression wrinkles on the corners of the mouth, you’re definitely not part of the movie if you don’t make an appointment to a plastic surgeon! Besides, Seoul is like the Mecca of plastic surgery, here are made the most of the body reshapes (especially facial ones) in the world! Some statistics say that one from five persons have used plastic surgery and physical perfection seems to be the main concerns of the Koreans. Instead of burgers and Coca Cola on the streets, commercials on the streets promote liposuction and rhinoplasty, young people receive plastic surgeries as a gift after graduation, instead of “Koreans Got Talent” the world is simply mad about reality shows for physical transformations and in the end all this beauty obsession is an entire ritual, part of the Korean culture. In Korea it’s not the coat that makes the man, but the face 🙂
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2 thoughts on “Seoul – Day 2 – Palace Quarter & Bukchon Hanok Village

  1. Ma bucur ca ai reusit sa vizitezi Coreea. Sincer, este locul meu preferat si ar fii un vis implinit sa ajung pana acolo. Am aflat datorita tie lucruri despre care nu stiam, acum vreau sa ma duc in Coreea pentru a-mi face rinoplastie, acolo sigur voi avea un nas reusit :))) Good job!

    1. Multumim tare mult pentru cuvintele frumoase! Si noua ne-a placut enorm, mult mai mult decat ne asteptam! Si daaaa, chiar sunt nebuni cu operatiile estetice, au o nisa de turism specializata fix pe partea asta 🙂 In special americanii vin pentru operatii estetice, e o nebunie completa 🙂 Si e chiar amuzant sa ii vezi pe strada, toti perfecti si aranjati si operati :)))

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