Thursday, 19 March 2015

덕수궁 | Deoksugung

Creepy, cold and deserted school rooms. My life for about a month.
After our return from Tokyo, it was straight back into school. School terms run at a different schedule to home, with the new school year coinciding more with the Lunar New Year (March) rather than harvest seasons (September). This meant that, although my contract required me to be in school, I didn't actually have any classes, especially as I'd already done all of my winter 'camps' (optional extra English classes that run for a week or so during the holiday period) before our trip to Japan.

This meant I was doing the dreaded "deskwarming" that you hear a lot of native English teachers here talking about, if not complaining. Most other teachers don't have to come in, as they run on a different contract, so usually the school is almost completely empty. A lot of schools used to let their teachers take the day off during this time, to save electricity and heating that's kind of wasteful for one person (if they have the central heating turned on at all, sometimes it's not. Hellish!). Unfortunately at orientation we were told that a few people had complained that their friend got time off and not the rules were changed and generally you now have to stay as deemed by your contract. Sigh. This is why we can't have nice things.

Anyway. It's not as mind-numbingly boring as people make it out to be. I wrapped myself in pyjama bottoms and blankets and caught up on some TV shows, drew some pictures, read books and comics, wrote blog posts, and studied my Korean in a nice, quiet room. As an introvert it wasn't really much different to how I spend my time at home, except the chair was a little bit less comfortable.

This was a little frustrating though, partly because I was thinking of all the travelling I could be doing in that time, but also because we'd brought a guest back from Japan that I felt like we should have been entertaining. Not that they were unable to explore on their own, but South Korea can be a bit intimidating for a first-timer, especially as we don't live that close to the main tourist attractions in Seoul, so the journey can be a little more difficult.

We ended up searching for things that can be done in the evening other than eating and drinking, because usually by the time we get to Seoul if we leave school bang on the ring of the bell, it's still about 6pm. One of the things we found was Deoksugung, a palace near Seoul City Hall.

It was really interesting to see a Korean palace in the night time, all lit up with bright lights. They really made the colours stand out, and any gold on the buildings was particularly glittery.

It's also nice for taking photos because it's a lot less busy than the big palaces in the daytime on a weekend, as obviously that's when most people go and you can't help but get in someone's way, sadly.

This palace was also really well-lit inside, so you could see lots more detail and dramatic shadows because of the low position of the harsh floodlights.

Dramatic panorama~
Also nearby were the aforementioned City Hall, which looked like an alien spaceship had descended on it. A lovely old, Western-style building, with a huge extra, curved and flowing glass structure rising up from the back of it. Strange. There was also a museum that I was tempted to pop into but I think by the time we spotted it, it was closing. Another day, maybe.

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