Ringing the Massive Bell of Bosingak

One of the beautiful highlights of my recent Seoul trip was something unplanned and unexpected.  Me and my colleagues were lucky enough to be at the right place and at the right time when we happen to experience one traditional South Korean ceremony.

bonsingak: a totally different belfry
bonsingak: a totally different belfry

During the Joseon Dynasty, the Bosingak Belfry was used to keep time.  In the very old days when Seoul was still enclosed by 4 main gates, the bell of Bosingak would ring 33 times at 4:00 AM so as to signify that people can be allowed to enter Seoul.  And by 10:00 PM, the bell again would ring 28 times to alert the public that the gates to the city are closing.

On our way to Insadong (one shopping capital in Seoul), just outside Jonggak subway station, we happen to pass by one oriental-looking structure.  Being first timers and tourists of South Korea, we of course were lured to take photos of the massive building.  When we were called to step in at the rather old compound and was informed that entrance for free, we temporarily suspended our shopping itinerary at Insadong and instead marveled at the beautiful structure in front of us.

i love the colors...
i love the colors…
ring my bell... hahaha!
ring my bell… hahaha!
high fashion!
high fashion!

While taking photos of ourselves, the buildings and the guards in traditional and colorful Korean clothing, we were told that we can participate in the day’s ringing of the bell ceremony.  But before we were allowed to hit the bell with a massive wooden log suspended from the ceiling, we were told to first change into Korean traditional costumes.  The changing into colorful Korean clothes even made this awesome experience more unforgettable.

And at 12 high noon, we were hitting the massive bell of Bosingak to alarm the whole Seoul, South Korea!  And after this awesome experience, we were so inspired, ended up buying lots of traditional South Korean goodies at Insadong.

Kampanerang kuba ang peg!

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Alone at Sungnyemun

It was our last day in Seoul.  Me and my colleagues decided that the whole morning will be spent burning our wallets out at all possible cheap buys at Namdaemun Market.  Right after breakfast we headed to the market and decided that we broke apart as a group so that we would be able to purchase what we want without wasting other’s precious time.  We decided that we would just meet up again at the hotel lobby at 11:30 AM for us to get ready for lunch together.

But an hour after searching and walking through the alleyways of this traditional Korean market, my head was suddenly spinning and everything seem to look the same.  That was the time I knew I was cloying from the sickening look of voluminous varieties of clothes, kitchenware, toys, fine arts, footware, ginseng, trinkets, Korean souvenir items, carpets and hats.

To ease this cloying feeling, I decided to walk away from Namdaemun Market.  And this was the time I reached and discovered a massive imposing structure just across the road.  I decided to go ahead and find my way to reach such a traditional Korean structure.

sungnyemun
sungnyemun
gate of exalted ceremonies
gate of exalted ceremonies

At a very small booth near the entrance manned by a very old man, I found a brochure and learned that the commanding edifice in front of me is called Sungnyemun.

According to Wikipedia, Sungnyemun is one of the eight gates in the Fortress Wall of Seoul during the Joseon dynasty.  It is also known as the Gate of Exalted Ceremonies (which I don’t know what means but it sounds very good).  Wikipedia also indicates that it was built in the 14th century and was once the oldest wooden structure in Seoul and was given the status of National Treasure No. 1 during the 60’s.  But in 2008 some loony 69-year old arsonist burned the wooden pagoda portion of the structure.  Restoration was done for the burnt portion amounting to whopping 14 million US dollars and was completed only in April 2013.

pikchur! pikchur!
pikchur! pikchur!

Since its National Treasure Number 1, I of course did not missed the opportunity to take some photos of this beautiful site.  After which, I headed back to Namdaemun market, buy me some ref magnets before heading back to the hotel.

Ininggit ko sila syempre sa pikchurs ko. Hahaha!

Seoul’s Autumn Soul

The beauty of autumn continues to fascinate me.  This is especially true this year because I got to spend some cool autumn time in Seoul, South Korea. My recent visit in Seoul can be summed up into three fascinating tenets:  the weather, the wardrobe and the verdure.  These I consider as the souls of my recent Seoul visit.

nice!
nice!

Autumn, is one strange type of season for an earthling like me.  The temperature, the climate and the cool breeze of the air is so atypical.  Growing up in a perennially clammy tropical country like the Philippines, autumn is such a wonderful novelty for me. I’m entranced every time some cloud would come out from my mouth each time I speak!

Aside from the cool weather, I also got to wear sweaters, scarves, gloves and leather jacket which I cannot wear in hot and humid Philippines.  I would be a laughing stock among the locals if I would don some leather jacket in Manila.

Lastly, aside from the weather and the clothes, you got to see some striking colors of bountiful vegetation during autumn.  Nature is so beautiful during this cool season, Koreans even have “Chasing the Autumn Foliage” as a past time.

red colored tree
red colored tree
cool colors
cool colors
bright!
bright!
selfie muna
selfie muna

 

And because it’s autumn, I enjoyed every bit of my stay in soulful Seoul, South Korea! Kamsahamnida!

Owtum! Wagas na tag-lagas!