South Korea has been the most scenic country I ever had the pleasure of visiting.
The streets markets here are warm from the glow of shop signs and busy food stands, hedges and trees line every street, and the palaces that date back to the Joseon Dynasty are absolutely beautiful.
So far, I have only seen two of the “Five Grand Palaces” built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty: Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace. Gyeongbokgung Palace is the main royal palace that has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is regarded as the most beautiful and magnificent palace.
Changdeokgung Palace was a favorite among princes during the time and features a breathtaking garden. Personally, my favorite was the garden, which is currently called the “Secret Garden” – and you’ll see why they wanted to keep it a secret!
I walked around for about four hours at each palace and still wasn’t able to see everything they had to offer. I actually got lost a couple times because the buildings all have the same style and color to them.
My friends and I also had a chance to try on hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) and make our own kimchi!
Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables and various seasonings. It is Korea’s national dish and you will find this in every single restaurant you go to. They even have annual kimchi-making competitions that have been included in UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage list.
At a traditional Korean restaurant called Seokparang, I was able to try Korean Royal Court Cuisine. They served set courses that emulate what the kings of Korea would have eaten. Overall, there served us over 16 dishes! Yeah, I was definitely full after that. My favorite dish was the very first dish called Gujulpan, which contains eight finely prepared vegetables that you wrap with a very thin pancake.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next post!
Jerry Cheng is earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting at San Diego State University. He is photo blogging from Seoul, Korea for the 2015-2016 academic year.