Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional Korean village of traditional homes from the Joseon Dynasty - so about 600 years old. The word Bukchon means "northern village" and "Hanok" is the word for traditional houses. We stopped here on our all day tour of Seoul and followed our guide up - and down - the steep streets of the village. The streets were crowded with pedestrians - and some in traditional Hanbok dress for photo shoots.( There was also a man carrying a sign asking the visitors for Quiet: People live here which we saw a few times in Seoul) Some of the homes are now tea houses, gifts shops, cultural centers and guesthouses but some are still residences. It's a very popular spot and for good reason - it's one of the rare examples one can see of where someone lived so long ago and is still a thriving community.
Insadong is a shopping street, or neighborhood if you will, known for artworks and antiques. It supposedly contains 40% of Korea's art and antique stores plus many of it's stationary and art supply stores. It's also known as a place for foreigners and tourists to buy souvenirs. The main street is pedestrian only so our tour bus brought us as far as we could go and then our guide led us down a twisty-turvy, out of the way alley where we had our lunch.I couldn't begin to tell you where it was or the name of it! Our fellow diners, and tourmates, were a food travel writer from New York and a State Department employee who was visiting a friend in Seoul. Our lunch was good - a bit rushed as our whole day was - and then we were given a set time to meet back so we could go shopping.(We had rice, kimchi and vegetables) I'm trying to purge my life of "stuff" so shopping didn't interest me much - we walked the street and did some window shopping.( And I enjoyed a doughnut for dessert) It was a pleasant experience and I"m glad we were able to enjoy it but I think my interests lie more in the history of Seoul than the shopping. Still I'm glad we were able to see this traditional area of the city.
On the other side of the coin from Insadong, is Myeongdong. A modern and young shopping area, with luxury brands and every Korean cosmetic brand represented, Myeondong is also a street food heaven. Lined with street carts selling everything from meat-on-a-stick to fresh squeezed juice, Myeondong is where you go if you're hungry. Unfortunately, this was our last stop of the day and we were limited to under 30 minutes (we were running behind from the start of the day due to some tour mates who arrived late) but we managed to do a swipe of the main street and peruse all the goodies. I grabbed a red bean fish toast and a mochi covered strawberry - which I enjoyed later - and Mr. UR purchased meat-on-a-stick. We could've tried a potato tornado, hot dogs, squid or octopus in a cup, fresh squeezed juice or a massive ice cream cone. As with so many things with travel, we'll just have to say Next Time!
|The Cathedral Church of the Virgin Mary or Myeondong Cathedral|
How about you? What are your must-do's in Seoul?
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