Today we will go to Cheong Wa Dae or known as Blue House (청와대). It’s called Blue House because it has blue roof. Simple right. Cheong wa dae is presidential residence, it’s like White House in USA, or Istana Negara in Indonesia. It’s open to public, so tourist can go there, with reservation before, tourist will be guided in groups and will be taken around the place. We were really curious about cheong wa dae, so we decided to take the tour. We reserved the tour via web. you can check it here. Foreigner must be reserved the tour at least 3 weeks before. We must enter our personal information like name and passport number correctly, because it will be checked and if we make a mistake, we can not enter the tour.
We took the first tour that day at 10.00 am. We are told to gather at East Gate of Gyeongbokgung. So, after we took our breakfast today, we walked there. Yesterday we already checked where is the East Gate when we were in Gyeongbokgung, so it’s easy for us to find it today. Well, we ate our breakfast at our apartment. We found a nice homey restaurant in our apartment. So we just entered and order some food. At first we just want to try, but the food is good there, so we become regular right away. We eat there every morning and if we feel hungry in the night, we usually go there to eat. The food is nice and the restaurant is comfy too.
First, the gave us banchan. We got kimchi, danmuji (yellow pickle radish), salad, and lotus root in soy sauce. In Korea, most restaurant provide free drink, they provide a drink water dispenser, and clean silver glass beside the dispenser. So the guest can take the water by their self. This is the great part of eat in Korea, free water, refill as you can. I always took my bottle empty and fill the water in restaurant where we eat. At least I save my money for drink. Hahahaha.
We ordered Mandu Ramyeon, Budae Ramyeon, and Sundubu jigae. The price is so cheap. Its just 5,000 KRW a portion. Mandu Ramyeon consist of mandu and ramyeon, it’s so delicious. Budae ramyeon has kimchi, spam, sausages, mandu, eomuk and of course ramyeon. it’s delicius too, but because it add kimchi inside, the soup taste more rich and i think little bit sour than the mandu ramyeon. We got a bowl of rice with sundubu jigae. Sundubu jigae is tofu stew with a little bit seafood inside and egg. It’s so tasy I think, it’s the best breakfast I had in Korea. The tofu is so nutty, the soup is so great, not so spicy and refreshing. Our first impression with this restaurant is really really extraordinary, that’s why we keep eat there for our breakfast. Wait for another story about our breakfast here ya.
Back, to Cheon Wa Dae story. We go to East Gate, and we walked into the park area, and found a little booth with Cheong Wa Dae in it’s wall. So we walked there and showed them our reservation and our passport. All the officer is in suit, I think they are like “Paspampres” in Indonesia, the presidential guard. They can speak English well and so friendly. When one of them know we are from Indonesia, He talked to us with Bahasa, just a simple one like “Apa Kabar”, “Terima Kasih”, and he said to us that he ever go to Indonesia, he guarded the Korea President when she visit Indonesia before.
After registrated our reservation, we waited for a while. There are a waiting room there. All visitor sit there while waiting for the right time to enter the Cheong Wa Dae. Not too long, the bus is come, the guard asked us to enter the bus. We enter one by one, show our ticket and our passport the the guard. We ride a bus from Gyeongbokgung to Cheong Wa Dae. Actually, it’s not too far. But I guess we can not go near the Cheong Wa Dae alone, it’s too secured. SO many guard with gun in hand. When we arrived, we queue to enter the cheongwadae. Our bag will be checked, and we will walked throught metal detector. It’s a protocol for safety reason I think. So many paspampres there. They gave us a visitor nametag, and for foreigner they gave us a player that contains description of the places we will be visited. The player has a number, so when we are in 1st place, we can press number 1, and the player will play an explanation about that place for us in English.
Before we started the tour officially. They gathered us in an small auditiorium. They played a video that explain the palace and the president in general. They gave us instruction how to follow the tour safely, the rules, and gave us a souvenirs. We got a Korean style wallet as souvenirs. We met a Korean ahjussi too in the auditorium, he is sat beside me, and asked me where I come from, and he curious with the player that we get as foreigner. He is Korean but so good in English, because he usually go to another country for business. He accompanied us during the tour.
From the auditorium, we were taken to a big yard. We follow a tour guide, and we are followed by some guard, maybe to make sure we don’t go anywhere that prohibited. The guide is talked in Korean, so maybe that’s why foreigner need the player. The first place is a big yard that has a big tree. The yard is called Nokjiwon and the tree is 310 years old. Then we were taken too the real Blue House, we didn’t entered the Blue House, we just see the Blue house afar, but we can took photo of the Blue house. At that time, I feel weird. I never took a photo with Istana Negara, never go inside there, but where I am now, in another country Istana Presiden. Hahaha.
I don’t know the name of this building. Our player is taken when we arrived this place, I didn’t know what the guard said, but some foreigner said that this is the last place, so we must return the player. So I returned it, but I forgot to play the explanation about this place, so I don’t know about this place. But, as I remember the interior inside is really glamorous with big lamp.
From this place, we go out form the Cheong Wa Dae, but in the exit gate, the tour guide asked the visitor. She asked with Korean, so we didn’t understand, but ahjussi told us the tour guide asked the visitor if they want to see the last building, it’s outside the Cheong Wa Dae, but it’s really close. If we want to see, we must follow the tour guide, but if we don’t want to see, the tour is overed. So we decided to follow, with some tourist too. So, we had to say good bye to ahjussi, because he choose left. The place actually, just beside Cheong Wa Dae, It’s a buiding with KOrean old Style. As I remember, it’s place for King Concubine, But I am not sure too, because the guide talk with Korean.
From this place, the tour is really over. So as we planned before we must go to Jongmyo Shrine. We were ushered here, but we must go by ourselves, so it’s confusing. We dont know how to find the way to subway station. So, for awhile, we sat in the park in frot of the Cheongwadae Exit Gate. The park is awesome i think, clean and nice. This is the park
We asked a guard here where is the nearest subway, but he can not talk in English, so we just follow his hand. We must walked for awhile until we found the subway entrance.
We went to Jongmyo Shrine. Jongmyo Shrine was a primary place of worship for kings throughout Joseon Dynasty. The memorial service, called Jongmyo Jaerye, is said to be the oldest complete ceremony in the world. The ceremony was designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Even today is not Joseon Dynasty anymore, the memorial service still be held. The memorial service is held annualy on the first Sunday of May. Visitors may enter Jongmyo Shrine only in a guided tour group at specific times. I think they want to keep the mystical aura, the function of this shrine, so thats why we can not enter and wandering by ourselves there. Admission Fee is 1000 KRW, but We bought integrated ticket for 4 palace and Jongmyo Shrine (10,000 KRW).
We arrived early to this place, the English tour star at 14:00 but, we arrived an hour early so, we decided to take a lunch first near this place. And then after see some restaurant, we choose the crowded one. It’s not a big restaurant, but the restaurant is packed with people and the menu also captivated our eyes, so we just park our body there. The owner is old couple, the wife busy to prepare the food, and the husband served the food to customer. When he saw us, he greet us and invited us to sit, but inside is full, so he quickly prepare a table outside, and let us sit there. He is really friendly, even he can not speak English, but he really tried to make us comfortable and enjoyed my food, when we said “ma-si-sseo-yo “, he smiled really bright. Thanks for your serving sir.
I ordered Sujebi and the other ordered Tteok Mandu guk. Sujebi is a Korean traditional soup consisting of dough flakes roughly torn by hand, with various vegetables and a little bit clams here. Tteok Mandu guk is soup with tteok (rice cake) that sliced thinly and mandu and they sprinkled nori on top. The portion for both dishes is huge. The taste is delicious and warm soup is great to autumn wether. But it’s hard to eat it all. We got Kimchi for banchan, and it refill. The ahjussi sometime come to us, asked us about the kimchi. The service is “Jjang” right. Hehehe.
Actually, we has a funny story with Jongmyo Shrine and the restaurant ahjussi. But because of that we know that the ahjussi is really kind. So the story is When we finished our tour in Jongmyo Shrine. For your information, the tour is in 1,5 hours. We found the ahjussi waiting dor us in the gate. He waved to us when he saw us from a far. He stood there with a some Jongmyo Shrine officer, and they wave to us too. We go to them, and the restaurant ahjussi gave us a Indonesian Passport. He openned it, and we found Mr. Damz face there. OMG How can he lost it. We guess that the passport fall in Ahjussi restaurant, and he found it when tidy up our table. Restaurant Ahjussi is really kind, he know that we went to Jongmyo Shrine, and He delivered us the passport. He waited for us in the gate. We sincerely feel gratefull to the ahjussi, but like nothing happened, he just smile, nod, and took his bike away. Really kind ahjussi.
The Jeongjeon had 7 rooms, and each room reserved for King and her queen. But as times goes by, the room is increased. And Jeongjeon become the longest building in Korean tranditional design. The room is added because the number of King is increased and it need anothe room the keep the king and queen tablet. We can not look what inside the room. The room only open when memorial service is held or when they clean the place.
I think, if you go to Korea, you must visited this places, Palaces and Jongmyo Shrine. Because we can learned a lot here. Take the tour too, so we can get proper explanation from them. They told us a lot about the history and what the place mean and what the function before. It’s great and fun to know and enjoy the tour. The place is beautiful with a lot of thing that we can see and we can get to know Korean better.
It’s already too long, so I will finshis here, ans continue my story in my next post.
Keep reading guys
By : Lil SIs