The Blue House or Cheongwadae (青瓦台) is the executive office and official residence of the President of South Korea - currently Lee Myung-Bak. The Korean name literally translates to "pavilion of blue tiles", as the main building and its two annexes are covered with a total of 150,000 traditional Korean blue roof tiles. The exterior design was based on the architectural techniques used in the construction of traditional wooden royal palaces. The hipped and gabled roof of the building is regarded as one of the most refined and attractive styles of Korean traditional architecture.
Entrance to the Cheongwadae is by guided tour only, where you can book online via email 6 months - 10 days in advance. After visiting Gyeongbok Palace, we waited at the Gyeongbok East parking lot for passport check, then followed the tour bus to Cheongwadae. Upon entering the Cheongwadae, an audio headset featuring a few different languages was provided for a guided audio tour. We watched a video presentation and President's speech first in a room before proceeding for the tour. There were very "yeng" "bodyguards" tailing us around, clearly dictating us on where and when we were "allowed" to take photos... in spite of the President's speech earlier saying "사진 많이 찍어요！" (please take more photos!) =_='''
The Nokjiwon Garden, situated inside the Cheongwadae compound, is the most beautiful and serene garden I have ever seen. Inside the garden there are deer (梅花鹿) running free and grazing on the grass, a small stream full of exotic carps and more than 120 different types of trees. The garden was completed in 1968 and today there are commemorative trees planted by previous presidents to celebrate special occasions. In the middle of the garden, there is the most impressive and beautiful umbrella pine tree (bansong). The tree is 17 meters in height and is presumed to have been planted sometime around 1850. I also saw persimmon trees and I felt very excited seeing it cos persimmon is one of my favourite fruit and this was the first time I actually saw its tree!
|Bansong umbrella tree in the middle of Nokjiwon|
Lastly, we visited Yeongbingwan, the State Guest House. The interior was very nice and had these elegant chandeliers dangling from the ceiling. And we took pictures with a cardboard cutout of Lee Myung-Bak and his wife and saw a photo exhibition of the deers in Nokjiwon during the four seasons.