Souvenirs of Insa-dong, Beautiful Hanok Village

Well, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home! It’s Thursday here, of course, though it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving at all, except for the fact that we’ll be having dinner with some fellow Americans tonight to celebrate the holiday. Looking forward to it. Plenty to be thankful for this year.

I’m a bit behind on blogs but let’s see if I can catch you up some.

After visiting the Jongmyo Shrine, I took a stroll through the adjacent Insa-dong neighborhood. On my way there I came across a small park, Tapgol Park, where I spotted numerous older Korean men hanging out (and a few of them arguing, it looked like), and zero women. Should I go in? Mmmm… I went in. I wanted to explore this cute park. It was alright, had some neat statues and whatnot, apparently the former site of a temple.

As I walked up Insa-dong Street, I immediately noticed a plethora of Korean souvenir shops. Most of them sell the same souvenirs, but it’s good to know that, when the time comes to get some items for friends and family back home, we’ll know where to go. Insa-dong Street also had a large cultural events center and a few other galleries and art spaces. I didn’t linger too long, I was mainly looking for a place to have lunch. A local vendor recommended a traditional bibimbap place across the street, so I decided to give it a try. Go Gung Restaurant has specialized in bibimbap for more than 40 years. I ordered the hot-stone traditional bibimbap, and let’s just say…. I’m never mixing in all of the red paste again! I don’t have a high tolerance for spicy foods, so, yeah. My mouth was on fire. Thankfully I had some salad and cold tea to get me through the meal. I’d say it was delicious, but I honestly couldn’t taste anything by the end of the meal. It also didn’t have any meat — I’d thought it might come with some beef, but nope. Just the rice, egg and veggies.

Tapgol Park

Tapgol Park, alt view

Gazebo in Tapgol Park

Tapgol Park pagoda

Arriving at Insa-dong Street

Korean souvenir gift shop

Walking along Insa-dong Street

Another souvenir shop in Insa-dong

Ssamziegil Market

Go Gung Restaurant

Hot-stone bibimbap

Paint brush sculpture in Insa-dong

I headed north into the Samcheong-dong neighborhood, on my way to see the traditional Korean homes of the Bukchon Hanok Village. Hanok are built solely out of wood, stone and earth, and have black-tile roofs. Some have central courtyards and elegant front gates. They were beautiful, as you can see in the pics below. The area itself has become touristy. It actually reminded me of Abbot Kinney Blvd in Los Angeles — trendy, hipster shops and boutiques. Some of the hanok are open as museums, while others are available for tourists who want to spend the night in one. Most of them, however, are still inhabited by Korean residents and there are signs urging visitors to be quiet and mindful of the residents. The small, narrow streets wind like a maze throughout the neighborhood, which is up on a hill providing some great views of Seoul. On a side note, after walking all over Bukchon, I trekked all the way to the beginning to get some shaved sorbet from Savoureux. Totally worth it. The most AMAZING shaved sorbet ever!

Trendy shops in Bukchon

More trendy shops

Stunning doors of the hanok

Hanok door 1

Hanok door 2

Hanok door 3

Beautiful hanok

Hanok door 4

Lovely little steps

Hanok roofs

Hanok door 5

Posing with a pretty mural on a hanok

Hanok-turned-Bukchon museum

Old and new

Stunning corner hanok

31 Gahoe-dong

IMG_7930

Selfie!

Hanok central courtyard

Hanok entrance decor

Hanok door 6

So many of them

Quaint streets

Sunflowers

Savoureux

Strawberry shaved sorbet

Ok sorry, have to run to our Thanksgiving dinner! Next up: the fun fashions of Dongdaemun.

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