Visiting Gyeongbok Palace

I left Jung District with Seoul Metro Line 4 towars Hongik University Station which was ten kilometers away. I had to put a plastic bag at Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon. Doing exploration by carrying black plastic would only make my face look more tacky.

The beauty of Gyeongbok Palace (source: http://www.agoda.com)

In thirty minutes I arrived.

Without having time to sat down for a moment, I just left the inn. That time I was going to the biggest palace in Korea.

—***—

Now I was taken by Seoul Metro Line 2. I was standing again because the carriage was full of passengers, requiring my right hand to hold the hand strap above so as not to fall because the train often braked at every station which train stopped at.

It was just, the situation got weird. A girl was whispering with a friend next to her and occasionally looking at me. I didn’t look at her but at least I could glance at her faintly. “Oh, someone is watching me,” I thought.

I occasionally glanced at that girl who continued to softly laugh. That laugh made me introspect. “Is there something wrong with me?” I tried to pay attention to myself, but still didn’t immediately find the oddity.

Until finally, I felt in shame when I found the source of my problem. It turned out that there was a large thread stitch at the base of the right hand. “Oh, why didn’t I check this used jacket when I bought it at Pasar Baru (the name of market in Jakarta)”, I slowly lowered my right hand, then checked the base of my left hand. Knowing the stitches were in good condition, I took turn holding the hand strap with my left hand. I slowly turned to that two girls and shyly nodded. It turned out that the two girls responded in the same way.

“Damn, during ten days of traveling, I just found out that in the bottom of my used winter jacket’s right hand there was a large seam to cover the rip,” I grumbled while shaking my head.

This incident made me feel embarrassed until I got off at Euljiro 3(sam)-ga Station to change to Seoul Metro Line 3. Now I was back following the pace of Seoul Metro to Gyeongbokgung Station in the north of city. This time I sat down until I arrived at the station.

To reaching Gyeongbok Palace, it was only a three hundred meter walk from Gyeongbokgung Station. Entering the gate yard of Gyeongbok Palace, many tourists were wearing hanbok clothes. The clothes were indeed effective in creating an aura of nobility for anyone who weared them.

Meanwhile, in every corner of courtyard was closely guarded by local police. It was clear that Gyeongbok Palace was closed that afternoon, no tourists were allowed in. I didn’t know what the moment would be held that afternoon?. Practically I could only enjoy my visitation by entering National Palace Museum of Korea which was located in the same courtyard as Gyeongbok Palace.

National Palace Museum of Korea (source: http://www.theseoulguide.com)

Visiting it was free, I was required to understand the story and ins and outs of Gyeongbok Palace from various relics in display at the museum. The 113-year-old museum looked clean and well-maintained. Although I didn’t fully understand it, at least I could enjoy historical objects such as some traditional clothes, ancient records, stamps and some paintings from Joseon Dynasty.

With the completion of xploration in the historical repository of South Korea, nicknamed the Deoksugung Museum, my adventure that afternoon left only one more destination….Gangnam District

Mengunjungi Istana Gyeongbok

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Aku meninggalkan Distrik Jung menggunakan Seoul Metro Line 4 menuju Stasiun Hongik University yang berjarak sepuluh kilometer. Aku harus menaruh tentengan plastik di Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon. Melakukan eksplorasi dengan menenteng plastik hitam hanya akan membuat wajahku semakin kampungan saja.

Keindahan Istana Gyeongbok (sumber: http://www.agoda.com)

Dalam tiga puluh menit aku tiba.

Tanpa sempat duduk sejenak, aku langsung saja meninggalkan kembali penginapan. Kali ini aku akan menuju ke istana terbesar di Korea.

—***—

Kini aku dibawa Seoul Metro Line 2. Kembali berdiri karena gerbong penuh dengan penumpang, mengharuskan tangan kananku merengkuh hand strap di atas supaya tidak terjatuh karena kereta sering melakukan pengereman di setiap stasiun yang disinggahi.

Hanya saja, situasi menjadi aneh. Seorang gadis berbisik-bisik dengan teman di sebelahnya dan sesekali melihat ke arahku. Aku memang tak menatapnya tetapi setidaknya aku bisa meliriknya samar. “Duh, ada yang memperhatikanku”, aku membatin.

Aku sesekali melirik gadis itu yang terus tertawa pelan. Ketawaan itu membuatku melakukan instropeksi. “Apakah ada yang salah denganku?“. Aku mencoba memperhatikan diri sendiri, tetapi tetap saja tak segera menemukan kejanggalan itu.

Hingga akhirnya, aku terjungkal dalam rasa malu ketika menemukan sumber masalah itu. Ternyata terdapat jahitan benang besar di pangkal tangan sebelah kanan. “Aduh, kenapa pula aku tak memeriksa jaket bekas ini ketika membelinya di Pasar Baru”, Aku perlahan menurunkan tangan kanan, lalu memeriksa pangkal tangan sebelah kiri. Mengetahui jahitannya dalam kondisi bagus maka aku bergantian memegang hand strap dengan tangan kiri. Perlahan aku menoleh ke kedua gadis itu dan mengangguk penuh malu. Ternyata kedua gadis itu merespon dengan cara yang sama.

Damn, sepanjang sepuluh hari perjalanan, aku baru tahu bahwa di pangkal tangan kanan winter jacket bekasku terdapat jahitan besar penutup sobekan”, aku menggerutu sambil menggelengkan kepala.

Kejadian itu menyematkan rasa malu hingga aku turun di Stasiun Euljiro 3(sam)-ga untuk berpindah ke Seoul Metro Line 3. Kini aku kembali mengikuti laju Seoul Metro ke Stasiun Gyeongbokgung di utara kota. Kali ini aku terduduk hingga tiba di stasiun itu.

Untuk menggapai Istana Gyeongbok, hanya diperlukan berjalan kaki sejauh tiga ratus meter dari Stasiun Gyeongbokgung. Memasuki pelataran gerbang Istana Gyeongbok, banyak turis yang mengenakan pakaian hanbok. Pakaian itu memang efektif menciptakan aura bangsawan bagi siapapun yang mengenakannya.

Sementara itu, di setiap sudut pelataran dijaga ketat oleh aparat kepolisian setempat. Tampak jelas Istana Gyeongbok ditutup sore itu, tak ada seorang turis pun yang diperbolehkan masuk. Entah sedang ada momen apakah sore itu?. Praktis aku hanya bisa menikmati kunjungan dengan memasuki National Palace Museum of Korea yang terletak di pelataran yang sama dengan Istana Gyeongbok.

National Palace Museum of Korea (sumber: http://www.theseoulguide.com)

Mengunjunginya cuma-cuma, aku dituntut memahami kisah dan seluk beluk Istana Gyeongbok dari berbagai peninggalan yang dipamerkan di museum. Museum berusia 113 tahun tersebut tampak bersih dan terawat. Walaupun aku tak faham sepenuhnya, setidaknya aku bisa menikmati benda-benda bersejarah seperti beberapa helai pakaian adat, catatan kuno, stempel dan beberapa lukisan era Dinasti Joseon.

Dengan selesainya eksplorasi di tempat penyimpan sejarah Korea Selatan yang berjuluk Deoksugung Museum tersebut maka petualanganku sore itu hanya menyisakan satu destinasi lagi….Distrik Gangnam.

Kisah Selanjutnya—->