Saturday, 21 June 2014

종묘 와 낙원동 | Jongmyo and Nakwon Arcade

I'm torn between using amusing/weird titles for my blog posts, or the more sensible, descriptive option.

Anyway, this weekend we went to Jongno-gu, the "bell" district near Dondaemun, previously the eastern wall of old Seoul. We came here to get some guitars for Nick from the renowned Nakwon Music Arcade, but to make the most of our day out, we decided to go to one of the nearby palaces.

We kind of failed, in that we got a bit lost, but found Jongmyo Shrine, which was also on our list of "places to visit", so it wasn't the end of the world.

On our lost wanderings, we went through a small park area, and felt distinctly uncomfortable from all the rowdy elders just hanging around in large groups everywhere. It really felt like we'd entered some kind of gang territory and there'd be a clicking advance a la West Side Story at any moment.

Except this guy.

Too cute. But anyway, we found the shrine, which was enormous, and paid our paltry 1000₩ each before heading in. Because of all the trees, it was actually surprisingly cool inside the walls of the shrine, and many of the buildings were (I think) designed to make the most of passing breezes.

There aren't too many signs posted about, possibly because there's a guided tour that we opted out of, so I didn't find out too much about the place. But what I can say is that the main shrine is HUGE. It looks more like a fortress or a palace, with an enormous stone foundation and towering doors all the way along the building. Considering people have been getting taller over the years and this place is pretty old, it's really quite impressive and majestic to see.

Chelle for scale. I push about 6'1"/191cm so I'm not used to feeling short.
There's at least one more building of this size in the shrine, as well as administrative buildings, ceremonial rooms, and the King's quarters.

Although most of the rooms are made quite tall (presumably for ventilation), many of the doorways are, as expected, a bit too small for me.

"mind your head" indeed.
Next, we went to Nakwon (I've seen it romanised as 'Nagwon' in a lot of places, but the subway station next to it says "Nakwon", so I'm going local.) The music arcade here houses over 200 specialist music stores with some incredible deals.

Nick, having done his research, found the guitars he wanted for an amazing price, and a load of pretty decent extras thrown in for free. We were a bit concerned after reading some bad experiences online, but what do you expect from the Waygook forums? ;)

Epiphone and Crafter, kindly modelled by the lovely BMO
Overall I think we spent about the same for 1 okay guitar back home, but got TWO lovely ones. We headed home VERY happy and now the officetel is full of guitar covers of AKMU and EXO songs, haha. Maybe I'll go back at some point and grab a half-decent ukulele.

I'm working on making a better sign-off, and trying to convince Nick to actually write things, this space?

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