Monday was one of the very few days off that I have (my last time off until Lunar New Year in late January, in fact). It's a little unfortunate that both the extended Chuseok weekend and this three day weekend occurred before my first paycheck! :-( Ahh well. I decided to spend Monday continuing my tour of historical palaces in Seoul. This time I decided to go to Changdeok Palace (Changdeokgung, 창덕궁), which apparently means Palace of Prospering Virtue. (BTW, Changdeok Palace is normally closed on Mondays; it was open yesterday because of the holiday. Also, a good half of the palace complex is part of the "secret garden." You can only go into the secret garden as part of a group tour; I figured I'd put off the garden tour until the spring, when I suspect it would be much more worthwhile.)
I have to say that while beautiful, historic Korean palaces are all starting to look rather the same to me. The challenge now is taking photographs that are somehow different from the photographs I've taken at other Seoul palaces. It's getting pretty difficult. I'm not sure that I actually succeeded, but here are my favorite palace photos of the day:
I was nearly done exploring the temple buildings - in fact, I'd just turned the corner around the building to the very last building - when I saw something that made me grin ear to ear. There was what looked like a raccoon, sticking its head out from under the building. It turned out to be a 너구리, or a Raccoon Dog [wikipedia]. Despite its name, it's apparently a much closer relative of the fox than the raccoon. Anyway, South Korea is *not* a good place for wildlife watching. In all my trips here over the past decade I've seen a handful of chipmunks, one squirrel, and a bunch of pigeons and magpies. And that's it. Seeing a Raccoon Dog in the middle of Changdeok Palace in central Seoul was really amazing.