Saturday, October 4, 2014

The {Wonder} of the Palaces and Temples

On my first trip to Korea, we weren't able to visit the Jogyesa Temple, and I was bummed that I had missed out on this landmark.

So, I was thrilled to visit not once, but twice with Justin this go around.  

I was amazed with the beauty and detail of the temple.  The history.  The reverence.  

The symbolism.  

And the extreme decoration.

But as amazed as I was with this beautiful, no-gorgeous, temple, as I walked around snapping photos, my heart was so heavy.  I think this is a lot of why I wanted to return for a second visit.  (Along with the fact that the first time we came upon it we were lost and I didn't have my Nikon with me.)  As a Christian, I believe that the only way to Heaven is through The Son of The Most High, Jesus.  To see hundreds...and yes I was tiptoeing around hundreds of worshipers...praying to these three golden statues, chanting, lighting candles, reciting, bowing, and clutching their intricate prayer beads, I was so so sorrowful.  All I could think of was Moses coming down from the mountain and seeing the people that God had just rescued out of slavery worshiping the golden calf.  I prayed for these people.  My son's people.  That their eyes and hearts would be open to The One True God, who hears their cries of prayer and longs for their worship.  

(If you are looking at Gyeongbokgung Palace, turn right on the main road.  Walk all the way to Insadong, but don't go down the mail street where the big paintbrush is.  Keep the paintbrush on your left and walk down that road.  The temple will be on your right.  Around that same area is also the first post office in Seoul.  As a side note for fellow visitors, I tried to be as respectful as possible while photographing the temple.  I really didn't think much about having my camera in the temple, as I have photographed several cathedrals on various other trips with no issue.  However, when I went back outside to slip my shoes on, I saw there was a sign with a 'no photos' picture.  Oops.)

We ended up seeing the changing of the guards at both the main palace, Gyeongbokgung, and the palace down the road, Deoksugung.

This hand painted dragon scene absolutely amazed me.  The craftsmanship in these palaces in truly breathtaking. 

Above the kings throne, there is always a dragon sculpture, both a symbol of status and protection.

The detail of the palaces is simply exquisite.  These little metal flowers were under many of the palace windows and on the doors as well.

At Deoksugung palace, I was able to get a quick snapshot with this guy during the changing of the guards.  He had on traditional guard dress with the most awesome black leather lace up 'combat' boots.  Seriously, this guy was SO COOL.  His long hair just added to the swooning.  Justin and I both agreed that there are many guards that probably just look the part, but this dude was most certainly a taekwondo master!

My handsome guide.  Seriously though, he was pretty awesome with navigating us through the palace grounds and educating me on what all was what.  

The Haechi statues are mythical creatures, part lion, part dragon, that were believed to protect the city and palace from evil, danger, and more specifically, fire.   

At Deoksugung Palace, I kinda hopped in the parade of the Changing of the Guards!! I got a few side-eye glances from a few of the guards, but didn't get fussed at.  Justin was to the side of me just a chuckling.  (What can I say?!  I wanted the full experience! Besides, I was helping bring in the band!  All the drummers were right behind me and that was awesomely cool.)  

This is the most modern palace, right beside the old Deoksugung palace.  Its amazing to see the old and new side by side.  

The palace heating system is really interesting.  The palace itself is built upon a labyrinth of rock.  As needed, fires are built underneath and the smoke is furnaced up through these chimneys that are well behind the palace in the forefront of the woods.  Our guide one day told us that many Korean buildings and apartments still use this heating system today.  

This was actually a little pergula at the bottom of the North Seoul Tower.  

Most of the palaces were rebuilt or restored approximately 300 years ago, but the ceiling above was from the 1500's, I believe, if I'm remembering correctly.  

More of the new, built right around the old.  I think this is a perfect example of why I fell so in love with Korea two years ago.  It's amazing to me that the history of the country wasn't lost in the feat to modernize it.  

These are two of my favorite places in Gyeongbokgung palace.  I REALLY can't wait to go back and get photographs of them with the beautiful fall foliage as the backdrop!

The outside palace wall.  

Justin was a wee bit disappointed to find out that he was born in the year of the rat.  Hehe!

Year of the Tiger for me!  (Ox for Mr. P and Dragon for Jack Cruz)

And this, my friends, is a statue right outside of the main palace of a popular Korean Children's game.  I tried my best to convince Justin to join in at the end for a photo op, but he would have no part of it.  

Party pooper.

{thankful for}
handsome guides
rich history
metal flowers
beautiful weather
Korean education
parades with ancient drums
the One True God

1 kind thoughts:

Helena said...

What a cool dragon! I love the fish lanterns, too. I was in Korea as a missionary way back in 92-93, and then went back and taught English with my husband after we got married. We happened across Jogyesa once when we were in Seoul for the Buddha's Birthday holiday, and it was sooooo crowded. Just wall-to-wall people. We're planning a trip with our two kids next fall. Maybe it will be slightly less crowded and we can find that dragon. :)

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