Seoul City Walking Tours
If you’re in Seoul and you want to see the sights, don’t look any further than Seoul City Walking Tours. The tours are 100% free, and you have a total of 21 tours to choose. Welcome to week 320 (09/03/2017) of Travel Photo Thursday. Come along as I immerse myself in the museums and traditional markets of the Traditional Market Course Walking Tour.
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On a nip-in-the-air Saturday afternoon, I met our Seoul City Walking Tours guide Hojoung Kang outside of Seoul’s Jegi-Dong Station, Exit 1. One of the nice things about these tours is that there is no minimum number of participants; perfect for solo travelers. However, on this day there would be three of us plus the guide. Our first stop was Seonnongdan Museum, a short walk from the station. We were treated to traditional tea before entering the museum. Our tea master spoke a bit of English and welcomed us warmly. The hot tea, which was from China, helped us to forget, momentarily, the cold nip in the air outside.
Seoul City Walking Tours
Then, it was down the hall to the small museum. The first thing I noticed is that all of the signage was in Korean. Quite often these days, museums will post in both English and Korean, but not this one. I was pleased that we had a guide to translate for us. The hallway area contained royal emblems from Joesan area, and each was a different color. Also, there was one wall entirely taken up with a sketch of the King’s Parade. Our guide explained that it was an annual ceremony where the king celebrated the harvest. Everything here was made of or covered in plexiglass so impossible to take glare-free photos.
Upon entering the main museum, we were greeted with a closet of traditional hanboks. We were invited to try them at no charge. I wasn’t a spoil sport, but I have done the hanbok before and once was great fun. A repeat performance was not in the cards. However, the young German woman in our group enjoyed wearing the traditional garb for a few minutes. I must admit I love the vibrant colors!
Then we moved into the main part of the museum, which is one large room. On the left, we have this exhibit of farm implements from the Joesan Dynasty. I have to tell you, by this point, I was wondering why anyone would build a museum to house a few hanbok and replicas of farm tools.
On the opposite wall, we have old harvest photographs and a religious ceremony. I’m still not “getting” this museum.
There were also a few interactive stations where kids could color and draw. We exited, and we found ourselves moving to the back of the building and walking up a few stairs to be greeted by this large square field. This isn’t a field. It’s an altar, Seonnongdan Altar, and there are four gate posts (north, south, east, west). According to our lovely guide, the space inside of the gate posts is sacred, and once a year they reenact an annual ceremony, which if I understood her correctly is related to agriculture and the harvest. The ceremony dates are based on the lunar calendar, but usually in April. I guess that’s the reason for all of the farm tools on exhibit in the museum. (I did research Seonnogdan Altar on-line and almost nothing, except that it is no longer listed in Lonely Planet!)
I was glad to be moving on to the Seoul Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Museum, a short 10-minute walk. Located in Dongdaemun, across the street from the Yangnyeongsi Herbal Market, the museum opened in 2006 with the intent to preserve and develop Korea’s traditional medicine culture. The museum is very English friendly, and you can browse hundreds of pieces of equipment and artifacts related to oriental/herbal medicine, plus an extensive collection of antique herbal remedy books. Located across the street from the Yangnyeongsi Herbal Market.
We got to sample some medicinal tea; fruity and sweet. I like the fruity flavor but could have done without the sweet.
The displays are very well done, a little mind boggling to see so many traditional herbs and medicines in one room.
I need to research the uses for seahorses in traditional medicine 🙂
Aren’t these mortars awesome? I would love to have in my kitchen. Maybe I’ll find one in the market!
We’ll be back next week with Part 2 of our Seoul City Walking Tour. Stay tuned!
I was very satisfied with Seoul City Walking Tours. Our guide was knowledgeable and friendly, and the tour is 100% free (no tipping). Have you ever taken a free walking tour in Seoul, or elsewhere in your travels? Let us know in the comments.
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