“It’s 10am when the drum beat starts. The heavy thud-thud-thud of anticipation. The crowd falls silent – even the breeze drops to a whisper – as the relief guards appear at the gate. Resplendent in uniforms of crimson and cornflower, holding colorful banners aloft and accompanied by a cacophony of bugles and conch shells, they slow-step in synchronicity across the palace courtyard towards the on-duty sentries.
The Changing of the Guard at Gyeongbokgung Palace is one of Seoul’s oldest traditions. This display of military might first took place in 1469 and today guards are changed six times a day, on the hour, in a festival of color where ceremonial costumes, instruments and weapons whirl past in all directions. A rare and welcome celebration of prestigious past in a city – and country – preoccupied with the future…”
This is the introduction of my latest article for Serendib, SriLankan Airways’ inflight mag. You can read the rest here.
CouchSurfing provides the perfect antidote to a restless night… another one.
“I’m very sorry” he says, with a deep bow, as the door swings open. “This is all is left.” I look down at my bed for the night – five-feet long, two-feet wide and three-feet deep – and smile. “It’s perfect” I reply, as I unfold my blanket on the tiled floor. “Just knock if you need the toilet.” Continue reading →