Seoul Searching: changing of the guards

11:30 PM

My first stop for the day was Gyeongbokgung (Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven) Palace where I was able to witness the changing of the guards. I was ignorant of the fact that it is held every hour from ten in the morning until three in the afternoon. But because of some stroke of luck or the almighty's perfect timing, I was able to see such a thing.

This morning proved to be the coldest so far since I’ve been here. It was so damn cold that after exploring the palace for roughly two hours, my hair had frost, my hands were on the verge of getting blisters, and my knees were literally shaking. I guess that's  what I get for going on holiday in the winter!

I ducked into the National Palace Museum next door to get my body temperature back to normal.  And I was just about to finally I was taking photos at the lobby when I heard drums. I glanced at the courtyard and saw these guards holding up several colorful flags. And just like in the movies, I raced down the front steps with my camera in hand and into the courtyard, while a John Williams soundtrack was playing in my head. My feet sunk into sand that was wet because of the snow but I didn't care. I just knew I had to see this!
The entire ceremony made the hair on my arms and on the back of my neck stand up.  I knew that such a ceremony is party for the tourists but I didn't care. I am such a sucker for pomp and ceremony! Is it because as I am writing this now, I could only think of only one same sort of thing back home - the changing of the guards in front of the Rizal Monument?

The "new" guards are now approaching the gate.

The "head" (?) royal guards pay respect to each other.
The guards move to their posts. 
The "outgoing" head guard inspects the "incoming" ones. 
The incoming guards take to their posts.
The outgoing royal guards exit and head back to their quarters. 
A few minutes later, I got dressed as a royal guard! It took three women to get me into this uniform. 
This is me, earlier that morning, at the palace gate. 

1. Take line 3 and alight at Gyeongbokgung Palace Station. Take exit 5.
2. OR hop on line 5 and alight at Gwanghwamun Station. Take exit 2. 

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